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How to Create an Activity Log for WordPress Sites (And Why You Should)


One of the most critical aspects of web security is being able to monitor what happens on your site. To do this effectively, you could implement an activity log to help track all changes on your WordPress site. Not only can this help you spot potential vulnerabilities and notice suspicious behavior, but it could even help you troubleshoot WordPress technical issues and errors.

In this article, we will dig into how using an activity log can help you better run and manage your WordPress site. We’ll also show you the basics of setting one up using the WP Security Audit Log plugin.

What an Activity Log Is

An activity log refers to a list of events or updates, usually pertaining to a website. Sometimes, such a list is referred to as an ‘audit trail’, or ‘audit log’, but the concept remains the same.

The most common usage for activity logs is to track every ‘action’ that happens on a site. When it comes to WordPress, this usually includes events in the admin dashboard such as creating and editing content, installing plugins, configuring the site’s settings, changing user profiles and much more. However, a log can also track activities from a site’s users, such as login attempts and comments.

You can probably already imagine how having a complete trail of all activity on your site can be useful. Let’s dig a little deeper into the specific benefits.

Why Having a WordPress Activity Log Is Helpful

The advantages of using an activity log are manifold. For such a simple concept, it has a large array of uses, so let’s look at some of the most prominent ones.

For a start, having an activity log helps ensure accountability when it comes to making changes on your site. Since it lets you see exactly who make a certain alteration and when they did it, you make it impossible for malicious users to avoid being found out.

In a similar way, an activity log can also be used to improve security. For example, since you can track login attempts, you can quickly see if somebody is trying to gain access to your site via a ’brute force’ attack.

Arguably the greatest benefit is how much easier it makes troubleshooting errors and WordPress technical issues. If a problem with the site occurs, you can simply refer to your log to see what happened at that time. This makes it significantly faster to diagnose errors and find their source, because otherwise it is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Finally, using an activity log is invaluable when it comes to meeting specific regulatory standards. One of the most prominent is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires you to document and process all activities that happen on your WordPress site.

How to Create an Activity Log for Your WordPress Sites & Multisite Network

One of the benefits of using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress is you can add almost any type of functionality to your site by installing a plugin. The same applies to activity logs. While there are several plugins for this specific purpose, none are as comprehensive or easy to use as the WP Security Audit Log plugin:



This plugin makes it easy to keep an activity log on your WordPress site. You can even decide how detailed you want the log to be, whether that’s including every minor event, or focusing on the more substantial updates.

To get started with the plugin you can begin with the free version. You can also jump straight into using the premium edition if you need features such as email notifications, WordPress reports and activity log integration tools.

Once you’ve activated the plugin, you’ll be greeted by a configuration wizard:



This will let you configure the plugin by taking you through a series of steps. For example, the first option lets you select the level of detail you want your log to include:



You’ll also be asked to select how long you want to keep the log data saved:



It asks you who you want to be able to access the activity log. By default, the only users that can see the log are administrators, but you can provide access to specific users or set one or more user roles as well:



Finally, you’ll be given the option to exclude certain information from the log. For instance, you could specify users, roles, or even IP addresses, which will not include any of their actions in the final activity log:



Once you’ve completed the wizard, the activity log will start to track your site. You can view it yourself by navigating to Audit Log > Audit Log Viewer:



This screen displays when a user has logged in successfully, as well as changes made to tags, posts, user profiles, WordPress site settings and more. The log reports the exact time and date, the IP address the change was logged from, and additional information that spells out what the change entailed in clear English.

The activity log events are also labeled by Severity. This essentially reflects how major the change was and how much it affects your site. These stretch from simple Notice events, such as adding a tag or posting a comment, to Warning and High level events, which cover changes made to themes, plugins, posts, and more.

This makes it easy to quickly scan the log for important events, while providing you with clear descriptions of how each one has affected the site. With this at your disposal, you’ll have more control and insight into what happens on your site than ever before!

Conclusion

No human could possibly follow every action on a site, which is why an activity log can be so crucial. This activity log plugin lists all events on a WordPress site in a way that can help you find potential security issues, troubleshoot errors and stop the blame game.

In this article, we’ve discussed the benefits of using an activity log. We’ve also shown you how to add on to your WordPress site using the WP Security Audit Log plugin. This makes keeping an eye on your site significantly easier, and it could also be a crucial aspect of keeping your WordPress site GDPR-compliant.

Do you have any questions about using an activity log on your website? Let us know in the comments section below!

How to Create an Activity Log for WordPress Sites (And Why You Should) Reviewed by Irfan Shakeel on 4:37 AM Rating: 5

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