WordPress Activity Log: What, Why, and How to use it in WordPress?

To walk fast, you walk alone. But to walk longer, you need a team.

Managing WordPress when you are the only admin is pretty simple & straightforward. You know the changes you make to your website and can reverse them when needed. You are the only person responsible for performance and security.

Once the business scales and the website becomes more prominent and complex, you add users to help run it. More users means more chances of something going wrong. That’s why knowing all the changes within your website is essential. So you can quickly learn and fix when something goes wrong.

In this blog post, we will cover the importance of WordPress activity log, what to monitor on your website, and how to set it up. Let’s dive in.

What is a WordPress Activity Log?

WordPress activity log is a compiled list of all the activities within your WordPress website. Suppose a user changes the content, like changing a word in the title from ‘beautiful’ to ‘pretty’; the log will capture the change and save it with all the crucial information, including time, date, users, and IP address. The activity log enables the website administrator to monitor the changes in theme, design, and plugins so they can quickly notice any unwanted action and track down the source to fix it.

Why log WordPress Activities?

With multiple contributors to the website, like developers, editors, designers, and third-party agencies – there could be many changes happening at any moment. You would face many surprises and wonder who deleted the images, who updated the plugins, or which user has added the shady external link.

The WordPress log lets you quickly track the cause of problems so you can have more control over security & quality. Let’s see several reasons why you must log WordPress activities.

#1 User accountability

Imagine what if someone uninstalled the security plugin or turned off the firewall? It could lead to a hacking attack. You cannot pinpoint the account used to perform this action, so you cannot hold anyone accountable.

An activity log will keep this information at your fingertips so you can track down the person involved in malicious activities and take the correct action.

#2 Easy to pinpoint the errors

If the website goes down, you can read the logs to uncover the action that caused this crash. Reversing that, you will have your WordPress website back and live.

Without a log, you must compare the entire WordPress website with the clean WordPress core to find the reason behind the error. You have to ask other admins and moderators for their changes. As the website is down, they might avoid the blame by misleading you. Activity log would be your one source of truth for what happened at your WordPress site.

#3 Better website security

Tracking all the changes gives you better insight and control over your website. You can quickly discover suspicious actions like any user disabling a security plugin or turning off essential security features.

Not only users but also sometimes a hacked plugin can start misbehaving with other plugins installed on your website. With proper monitoring, you can quickly identify the corrupted plugin and remove it to protect your WordPress website.

#4 Post-hack investigation

If your website gets hacked by any unfortunate event, you would like to learn how that happened to avoid it in the future. But to do that, you must know what makes your WordPress prone to attack, you would also like to know what changes these hackers made when they were on your website.

You can go over the logs to see the detailed journey of hackers. Analyzing it, you will find how and when they entered, the changes they made, and how it affected your website.

What WordPress Activities Should You Log?

There are so many changes happening within your WordPress. You would prefer to keep your storage private by recording every change. Here, we will tell you the most crucial changes that can affect your website security, and you should monitor them.

#1 Change in content

Though WordPress has a built-in content revision checker, having a log of content changes gives you more detailed insights. You do not have to go from one draft to another to preview the changes. From one page, you can overview all the changes made to the content and perform a quality analysis if required. Not only content, you can monitor if there is any unapproved external link insertion or a change made to the affiliate links.

#2 Setting and code changes

Changes in the WordPress theme & plugin can modify your website’s design and functionality. But some changes need to be reflected more visibly. For example, you might not notice if a user or a plugin added a PHP script to share the user information with an external service. It will run in the background without you ever knowing.

So tracking the changes in code and setting is crucial for proper insight into your WordPress website. Here are several changes you should be monitoring:

#3 Changes in user account and settings

User accounts are also needed to track; human errors are responsible for 82% of data breaches. You must be aware of all the new charges made and the ones deleted.

Plus more things to look for:

  • User profile changing the image and name frequently
  • Email address has been changed (which can mean the author might have sold their access)
  • Log in from multiple locations at the same time might indicate the user is sharing the password
  • User access changes (from moderator to admin, or vice versa)

#4 Failed login attempts

Log of the failed login attempts lets you know the frequency of the attack. You can learn what IP or place you get the most login attempts, and then you can block that IP. If there is an above-average failed login attempt, it could mean a planned attack is happening. You can tighten your WordPress security and ensure all the users have 2FA configured.

#5 Changes to website in case of WordPress multi-site setup

Super administrators should know every admin-level action happening within their multi-website network. In case of a breach or vulnerability due to a user, super admin must be the first to learn.

Crucial things to monitor:

  • WordPress installation and deletions
  • Creating and deleting user accounts with an admin role
  • Admin-level changes to the website
  • Getting emails about WordPress updates
  • Changing primary email for the users

How to Implement WordPress Activity Log?

Once you decide what activities you will log, the next step is to configure them. It is not possible to do it manually. Setting up website versioning and monitoring is usually complex, but WordPress makes it much more manageable.

There are two popular ways to implement WordPress activity log:

Using the Hosting Dashboard: Popular WordPress hosting companies like Kinsta, Hostinger, Siteground, and GoDaddy have dashboards with many unique features like backup, cache, and even logging. However, the way they log would be very different as they will track server-level changes. It would help to have the setup within your WordPress for the site’s details. For that, you have to install a WordPress plugin.

Use a WordPress Plugin: One can use various WordPress plugins to store activity logs. Many of them are free and have enough features to help you out. However, if you have extensive needs, it is OK to have premium ones as they are worth it.

What to look for in a WordPress Activity Log plugin?

With so many plugins, picking one would be a challenge. So, we have made a list of must-have features when selecting a plugin.

#1 Ability to turn on/off the features

As mentioned above, you can track only some changes. Keep it minimal and relevant so you can audit them later easily. So, there must be an option for you to select the things you want to track and log.

#2 Compliance with data retention rules

The plugins perform data collection of the changes made by the users. In a way, you store users’ data under compliance laws. So, the plugin must have all the compliance needed so it does not backfire legally.

#3 Integration with other plugins

The plugin would not only be tracking the changes in the WordPress website but also in the plugins. It must have an integration with other plugins, too. If other plugins installed on your website do not allow the activity log plugin to save the changes, then it will be pointless to pick that monitoring plugin.

#4 Search and filters to view the logs

The search and filter option lets you quickly review what you want to check. There should be a way to categorize the various types of logs per the time, date, and users.

#5 Exporting the logs

Keeping the logs at the hosting server would eat up all the space. You would like to keep them offsite, like on your computer or free Google Drive. To do that, there must be a way to export the logs safely and transparently.

#6 Support for multiple networks

If you have a multi-site network, the plugin should support the multi-site. It should be able to compile the data from all the websites and show it on a single page so you don’t have to go through each website.

Best WordPress Activity Logs Plugins

Simple History

WordPress Activity Log

Simple History is a free, lightweight, and straightforward Activity Log plugin. It seamlessly integrates within the WordPress setting and shows the logs at the WordPress admin dashboard.

WordPress Activity Log

You do not have to be logged in to see the log. It also offers a RSS feed feature enabling you to view the changelog directly from an RSS reader application.

WordPress Activity Log

You can export all the logs in JSON & CSV format. There is no filter, but under the Debug page, the record categorizes the logs by different loggers like Post logger and Plugin logger.

Simple History is a minimal activity log with enough features – however, UI does not make it easier to analyze the logs. If you are tech-savvy, you can export the records to an external database and connect it to your favorite log visualize(r) for better monitoring. For beginner WordPress users, Simple History might not be that useful.

Activity Log

WordPress Activity Log

Activity Log is another simple plugin with a fantastic dashboard to view all the logs easily.

WordPress Activity Log

You can filter the logs by time, topic, roles, and action. This dashboard is the USP of this nifty plugin, as the plugin does not offer any more customization than the time to keep the logs.

WordPress Activity Log

We have been using the Activity Log plugin for one year; the plugin provides a clean and comprehensive monitoring dashboard. Only a few plugins offer search and filter options for logs within the WordPress dashboard. It is typically a premium feature.

WP Activity Log

WordPress Activity Log

WP Activity Log is a freemium comprehensive WordPress activity log with many advanced features. Even the free plan has excellent features for WordPress beginners. For example, you can turn on and off the events you wish to keep a log of. Plus, integration can be installed to monitor what’s happening on your WordPress site more intricately, such as file changes, form changes, and SEO changes.

WordPress Activity Log

The plugin’s UI is as simple as possible, but the plethora of features could be too much. For the free version, most of these features are unlocked but visible.

Features of WP Activity Log:

  • Exclude users, posts, pages, and IP addresses from the log
  • Select what you wish to see (events, time, user, IP address) in the WordPress activity log
  • Log for background activities (automatically running WordPress processes)
  • Email notification, log search via filter and keywords, and export are paid features

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does WordPress have a log of changes?

WordPress does not have a native change log. There is a way to see the version history of blog posts and content. But about the changes occurring within the setting and plugin, there is only so much you can do besides implementing an activity log using a plugin.

How do I find my WordPress Activity Log?

WordPress doesn’t collect activity logs by default, so you cannot find them on your dashboard. If you use a plugin to track suspicious activities, the log page will be visible per the plugin setting. Some plugins show it on the admin dashboard, while others have a separate section under the left toolbar.

Can you see the login history on WordPress?

No, you cannot see the login history on WordPress. You must add this security feature via WordPress plugins like WordFence and Sucuri. You can also add a plugin that records explicitly the login attempts. Login history will also be visible under the security audit log if you have logs enabled on your website.

Can you track user activity in WordPress?

You can track user activity in WordPress by adding the user activity log feature using any Activity Log plugins for WordPress.

Final Words

Small or big, if your WordPress website has multiple authors, admins, and editors, you must consider having an activity log to monitor all the activities. It will make the website more secure, enabling you to make the workflow transparent and keep users accountable for their actions.

This article helped you understand the importance of Activity logs and implementing the solution to streamline website management. If you have any questions, feel free to leave your comments or contact us for more information on WordPress maintenance, errors, and performance.

Author Bio

Faizan Fahim is a B2B content marketer who likes to write about WordPress, Cloud Native technologies and SaaS products. Besides professional writing, he likes reading and runs a book blog. You can connect with him through LinkedIn.

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