Free Google Analytics Alternative

Google Analytics Alternative
Google Analytics Alternative

A few weeks ago I talked about the issues I had with giving away all of my traffic data to Google, by using their free traffic stat software Analytics.  Since then I have tried about 3 different stat tracking software and sites.  So far I’ve tried using Piwik, W3Coutner, and now HiStats.  I think I may have found the best Google Analytics alternative in HiStats, if only for a few negatives, but let me explain why the others didn’t work out first.

Piwik

Piwik was great, provided minimal stats, but the ones necessary to properly develop and form a website.  I got keywords, graphs, time on site, and visitor data.  Of the information provided with Piwik, my complaint lied with no IP tracking, clumsy reports, and no direct links from keywords to the search engine results page.

The absolute nail in the coffin reason why Piwik is not a good alternative to Google Analytics is that you have to host the tracking software yourself.  This means that if you have high traffic websites that you are tracking then it has the potential to bog down your system.  There is no question in my mind that Piwik was hurting the response time and up time of my dedicated server.

W3Counter

I tried out the free version of W3Counter and really thought I had found the stat program I would stick with.  The free version only allows the tracking of one site, but provides ample time to test out before upgrading to paid version which allows tracking for up to 10 sites.  The tracking was spot on and it allows for real time reporting, so you don’t have to wait 24 hours for information like you do with Google Analytics.

Unlike Piwik, W3Counter is hosted on it’s own servers, so it’s not taxing on your system.  Unfortunately the servers W3Counter is hosted on is not sufficient to handle the load.  Regularly I was faced with timing out errors or worse, sealing the deal with W3Counter being marked off my list of potential Analytic tracking alternatives.  Hopefully in the future the creator of W3Counter will create more efficient code or break down and buy top notch servers.

HiStats

I think I have decided to start using HiStats.com as my Google Analytics alternative.  It provides all the information I need, complete with keyword, day reports, real time stats, and even exporting for record keeping.  Furthermore, HiStats.com is a free service, but laced with a ton of annoying ads.  I’m not against someone earning a buck for their hard work, so I can look past the ads.

Also, the free version allows for unlimited site tracking, as far as I can tell.  It seems that HiStats is also accurate with it’s visitor tracking, keyword lists, and can even provide future traffic potential.  I’ve been using it for a few days and have never ran into downtime like I did with W3Counter and unlike Piwik the code is hosted on their servers.

I’d recommend anyone looking to have an alternative to Google Analytics to try out Histats.com.  If you are worried about putting ugly counters on your site, don’t, they offer plenty of tasteful buttons and promise no hidden link code.  For now, that’s where I’ll be tracking, until a less Ad laden paid service shows up.

Another Piwik Update

It seems like to me Piwik has been updating a lot more frequently, which admittedly only causes minor frustration.  The latest version is 0.2.34 and includes only one fix, but a pretty big one.  Apparently there was an error with the Piwik cache generating files that did not count all visitors.  That’s kind of important to a stat tracking script. 😉

Piwik Piwik 0.2.34April 14, 2009

– FIXED #648 Generating cache files fails resulting in no visits recorded for a few users, due to wrong order in includes in piwik.php

The new download is available on Piwik.org or if you are using at least version 0.2.31 you can upgrade automatically via your Piwik dashboard.  I’ve updated and upgraded my database using this method in the past, with no issues.