If you manage a WordPress site with multiple authors, then being able to easily see what your contributors have been doing can be a very useful resource to have at your disposal. While monitoring the activities of the registered users of your site might seem a little invasive, it can be put to more benevolent uses. This includes tasks such as solving user support issues and keeping track of the latest items to be posted to the site.
The number of events that these free plugins can track is pretty comprehensive. Actions such as creating new content, editing widgets, failed login attempts and changes to site options, to name but a few, can be easily viewed. If you want a better overview of what is going on with your WordPress site, these plugins provide an effective solution.
WP Changes Tracker
This free plugin displays a log of all the changes made to plugins, the WordPress core and the site options. If your site suddenly starts displaying error messages or not functioning correctly, then this plugin allows you to review all the changes made to your site in the recent past.
From the data, you should be able to establish which changes were made to your site around the time the problems first started occurring. Also, it allows site managers to see if their registered users have been adding or removing any plugins on the site.
The WordPress site changes tracked by WP Changes Tracker include:
- Plugin installations and updates
- WordPress core updates
- Changes to site options
- Theme changes
The log information is displayed in your WordPress admin dashboard, on the settings page for the plugin. It is possible to search the log, and export the data as a CSV file. As the plugin tracks a many events, there is a lot of data to sift through and the more familiar you are with log files, the more useful you will find this tool.
Some of the changes that were logged provided less information than I would’ve hoped for, but overall, this should be a useful tool for anyone who wants an easy way to see what changes have been made to the plugins, themes and options of their WordPress site, although it appears little effort has been made to make the logs user friendly. One for the purists perhaps.
This is another free plugin that allows you to view a log of the changes made to your site. Audit Trail also tracks data related to users and what they are doing. Some of the activities that are tracked with this plugin include:
- User logins
- File attachments
- Category management
- Comment management
- Link management
- Post and page management
- Theme switching
- User page visits
- User profile edits
All of the above are optional and are turned off by default; so they will need to be activated to start the audit trail of your WordPress site. It is also possible to exclude users from the tracking, by entering their username. Once installed, the plugin and its options can be accessed from the WordPress tools menu on the site dashboard.
Audit Trail allows you to export the log as a CSV file for viewing in other applications or for easy distribution. This user activity tracking plugin provides an easy way to monitor and understand the changes made to your site.
WP Security Audit Log
The free plugin is another option for anyone who wants an easy to read log of everything that happens on your WordPress site. Once installed the plugin begins tracking the activity of logged in users for a number of site features. The data logged includes:
- Logins and logouts
- Failed logins
- File uploads
- Page and post creations, modifications and deletions
- User profile creation and editing
- Changes to widgets
- Changes to plugin
- Site settings and system activities
All of the data that can be tracked is optional allowing you only to see the activities you deem important. The logs are very easy to read making this perhaps one of the most user friendly tracking plugins out there.
The plugin doesn’t track changes to themes so it’s worth bearing that in mind if that is important to you, but it appears to track pretty much everything else that goes on in a WordPress site.
As the name suggest, this plugin tracks more high level changes to your site. A nice feature is the ability to add a widget to the dashboard so you can quickly view any changes as soon as you login. The history can also be viewed on its own page should you prefer.
Some of the activities and events Simple History tracks include:
- Posts and page changes
- Changes to file attachments
- Comment management
- Widget changes
- User profile changes
- User logins
- Support for tracking bbPress and Gravity Form plugins
Simple History comes with an Extender System which allows developers to add settings and options of their choice to be tracked. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed outputted from this plugin. This allows you to easily view any changes made to your site from your favourite feed reader or elsewhere.
If you manage a multi-author blog, then installing one of these plugins is a very good idea. They make it very easy to see which new posts and other types of content have been added to your site, in order to help you keep up-to-date with how your site is growing, and who has done what.
Even if you are the only user on your WordPress site, these plugins can be useful. This is due to the assistance they can provide when troubleshooting support issues. Being able to look back and see which plugins have been installed and activated, and in what order, as well as changes made to site options and settings, makes it easier to isolate alterations made on a particular date to resolve a problem.
The WP Security Audit Log plugin has the easiest to read logging and reporting information. This makes it a great choice for anyone looking for a user-initiated activity and event tracking plugin for WordPress. However, it’s worth checking out the specifications of the other plugins to determine which ones track the specific data you are most interested in.
Do you track the activity and actions carried out on your site? If so which tools do you use and what events do you monitor?
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