How to Create Custom Log File in Apache
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Last Updated on July 27, 2023 by Vikash Ekka

Apache is a widely used open-source web server that allows you to create and manage websites. One of the essential features of Apache is its logging capability, which records valuable information about server requests and activities.

In this article, we will explore the process of creating a custom log file in Apache and understand the format of Apache logs.


When running a website, it is crucial to have a detailed understanding of server activities, visitor traffic, and potential errors. Apache log files provide valuable insights into these aspects, enabling you to monitor and analyze server performance effectively.

What are Apache Logs?

Apache logs are files that record various events and transactions that occur on a web server. These logs contain important information such as client IP addresses, requested URLs, response codes, user agents, and more. Analyzing Apache logs can help identify potential security threats, troubleshoot issues, and optimize server performance.

Importance of Apache Logs

Apache logs play a crucial role in web server administration and maintenance. They provide administrators with a wealth of information to monitor server health, track user behavior, detect unauthorized access attempts, and identify performance bottlenecks. By analyzing Apache logs, you can gain valuable insights to improve website security, enhance user experience, and optimize server resources.

Default Apache Log Format

By default, Apache uses the “Common Log Format” for logging server activities. This format includes specific fields such as the client IP address, user identity, timestamp, requested URL, HTTP response code, and the number of bytes transferred. While the default format is useful, it may not always provide all the information you require for your specific needs.

Customizing the Log Format

Apache allows you to customize the log format according to your requirements. You can configure the server to log additional fields, exclude certain fields, or even create a completely new format. Customizing the log format gives you the flexibility to capture the precise data you need for analysis and reporting.

Configuring Log Format in Apache

To create a custom log file in Apache, you need to modify the server’s configuration file, typically named “httpd.conf” or “apache2.conf.” Locate the “LogFormat” directive in the configuration file, which defines the log format used by Apache.

Apache Log Format Directives

Apache log formats consist of various directives that represent different fields of information. Some commonly used directives include:

  • %h: The client IP address.
  • %t: The timestamp of the request.
  • %r: The first line of the request.
  • %>s: The HTTP response code.
  • %b: The number of bytes sent.

By combining these directives and adding additional text or formatting, you can create a customized log format that suits your needs.

Common Log Format Example

Let’s consider an example of a customized log format using the Common Log Format:

LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b" common
CustomLog "/var/log/apache/access.log" common

In this example, the log format includes the client IP address, user identity, timestamp, requested URL, HTTP response code, and the number of bytes transferred. The log entries are written to the “/var/log/apache/access.log” file.

Combined Log Format Example

The Combined Log Format is another commonly used format that includes additional information, such as the user agent and the referrer URL. Here’s an example:

LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-agent}i\"" combined
CustomLog "/var/log/apache/access.log" combined

In this example, the log format includes the same fields as the Common Log Format but also includes the referrer URL and the user agent.


Customizing log files in Apache is a powerful way to gather specific information about your web server’s activities. By understanding the format of Apache logs and configuring them to suit your needs, you can gain valuable insights into server performance, user behavior, and potential security threats. Take advantage of Apache’s flexibility and start leveraging the power of customized log files for your website today.


How can I access Apache log files?

To access Apache log files, navigate to the directory specified in the Apache configuration file for log storage. Typically, the log files are stored in the “/var/log/apache” or “/var/log/httpd” directory.

Can I rotate Apache log files automatically?

Yes, Apache provides utilities like “rotatelogs” that allow you to rotate log files automatically based on predefined criteria such as file size, time interval, or date.

Are Apache logs useful for SEO analysis?

Yes, Apache logs can provide valuable data for SEO analysis. By analyzing the logs, you can gain insights into user behavior, popular pages, referrer URLs, and search engine bot activities.

How long should I retain Apache log files?

The retention period for Apache log files depends on your specific needs and compliance requirements. However, it is recommended to retain logs for a reasonable duration to ensure sufficient data availability for analysis and troubleshooting.

Can I parse Apache logs with log analysis tools?

Yes, there are several log analysis tools available that can parse and analyze Apache log files. These tools provide visualizations, reports, and insights to help you understand server performance, user behavior, and potential security issues.

By Vikash Ekka

Hi All, My name is Vikash Ekka from India. I’m the founder and tech editor of I have completed my Graduation in BCA. I love to write technical articles like Windows, Linux & MAC Tutorials, Tips, Tricks, How To fix, Tutorials About Ethical Hacking & Cyber Security Guide, and Software Review. Currently, I have been working as an IT professional since 2018.

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