How to parse nginx logs

Better Stack Team
Updated on November 23, 2023

Parsing Nginx logs is a common task for administrators and developers who want to analyze web server activity, monitor traffic, and troubleshoot issues. Nginx logs can provide valuable insights into server performance and user behavior. In this tutorial, we'll explore various methods to parse Nginx logs, including using command-line tools, log analyzers, and programming languages.


Before we begin, make sure you have the following prerequisites:

  1. Nginx installed and configured.
  2. Access to the Nginx log files, typically located in /var/log/nginx/ or a custom location.

Using Command-Line Tools

grep and awk

You can use basic command-line tools like grep and awk to extract information from Nginx log files. Here's an example of how to count the number of requests for a specific URL:

grep "/your-url" /var/log/nginx/access.log | wc -l

To extract and display specific fields, you can use awk:

awk '{print $1, $4, $7}' /var/log/nginx/access.log


You can also use sed to manipulate log data. For example, to extract IP addresses from the logs:

sed -nE 's/([^ ]+).+ - .+ \\[.+]\\s"GET \\/your-url.+/\\1/p' /var/log/nginx/access.log

Log Analyzers

Several log analyzers can parse and present Nginx logs in a user-friendly way, providing various insights and statistics.


GoAccess is a real-time web log analyzer that offers a terminal-based interface. To get started, install GoAccess and analyze your logs:

sudo apt-get install goaccess  # On Debian/Ubuntu
sudo yum install goaccess     # On CentOS/RHEL
goaccess -f /var/log/nginx/access.log

GoAccess provides interactive and HTML-based reports.


AWStats is another popular log analyzer that generates detailed web server statistics. Install it and configure it to parse Nginx logs:

sudo apt-get install awstats  # On Debian/Ubuntu
sudo yum install awstats     # On CentOS/RHEL
sudo vi /etc/awstats/awstats.conf  # Configure log path and other settings
/usr/lib/cgi-bin/ -config=your-config -update

Then access the statistics via a web browser.

Using Programming Languages

You can parse Nginx logs using programming languages like Python, Ruby, or Perl, which offers more flexibility and customization.


Here's a simple Python script to parse Nginx logs and count unique IP addresses:

with open('/var/log/nginx/access.log', 'r') as file:
    unique_ips = set()
    for line in file:
        ip = line.split()[0]

print(f"Unique IP addresses: {len(unique_ips)}")


You can achieve similar results in Ruby:

unique_ips ='/var/log/nginx/access.log', 'r') do |file|
  file.each_line do |line|
    ip = line.split[0]

puts "Unique IP addresses: #{unique_ips.size}"

These are just a few methods for parsing Nginx logs. Depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose the most suitable approach. Log parsing is essential for monitoring and maintaining your web server, and it can help you gain insights into your web traffic and server performance.

Log management solutions

Better Stack Logs

Better Stack is a log management solution based on ClickHouse, which allows it to be fast without compromising security or reliability. Better Stack collects data from the majority of the most popular languages, frameworks, and hosts.

It also offers advanced collaboration features, one-click filtering by context, and presence & absence monitoring, all together in a developer-centric Dark UI.

Better Stack offers one-click integration with Better Stack Uptime, an uptime monitoring and incident management tool from Better Stack. With this integration, developers can join metrics and logs, collaborate on incidents, manage on-call schedules, and create status pages from one place.

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