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Best practices for installing and maintaining a Webtrends 7 installation

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Best practices for installing and maintaining a Webtrends 7 installation
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For products:
Webtrends Enterprise 7.x
Webtrends Professional 7.x
Webtrends Small Business 7.x

Last modified: 6/1/2011

Introduction:
Web traffic analysis is a very complicated process. Understanding who needs the reports, what they expect to see, and what it takes to successfully deliver on these needs is something for which every Webtrends customer should have a solid understanding of before committing to the task.

Prior to Installation
Prior to installation it is recommended the following items be ready so that the installation and implementation proceeds quickly and smoothly:
  • A dedicated representative from your organization should be identified to be the Webtrends administrator. This individual will be dedicated to the implementation and will maintain the system after such implementation.
  • A current copy of Webtrends software and Activation Key should be obtained.
  • Licenses for the page-view add-ons should also be obtained, if applicable.
  • Determine how log files are to be accessed from the machine upon which Webtrends is installed (i.e. via local, FTP, or network access).
  • If log files are to be accessed via FTP, ensure that the FTP server name, as well as user name and password are known.
  • If log files are to be accessed through a UNC path, a dedicated Windows service account for Webtrends should be created for this purpose. The account must have access to the log files if stored on the network and the account must also be part of the local machine's Administrator group. The following user rights are also needed:
    • Log on as a service
    • Act as part of the operating system
    • Log on locally
  • The account must be a domain user account and not a group.
  • Log files should be configured to capture data in an extended format if search engine, keywords, browsers, platforms and referring site information is required.
  • Log files should contain persistent cookies when ever possible.
  • Have access to any needed passwords so that if the Webtrends administrator is unavailable other users can access the server and perform similar tasks.

System Configuration
It is highly recommended that the Webtrends software be installed on a dedicated reporting machine. Log analysis is very resource intensive. If Webtrends is installed on the web server the performance of the web server could be seriously impeded. Webtrends analysis tools are designed to fully utilize all system resources. Fast processors and lots of memory are recommended.

By default, Windows NT/2000 will automatically adjust the machines virtual memory settings to only 11 MB above what the physical RAM is set. This is done so that the operating system will load faster, not having to cache on the disk. This will work for Windows, but is not efficient for most other memory intensive software. The following formula works very well for most applications: RAM x 2 for Minimum Paging File Size RAM x 3 for Maximum Paging File Size Exceeding the formula indicated above does not seem to have much effect. In fact, it tends to slow processes down as any more than three times the physical RAM seems to only increase the amount of time required to run reports. Having said this, please note that it does not matter to what the virtual memory is set if there is not at least as much space available on the hard drive where the operating system is being asked to swap.


Log Files:
Webtrends can access log files through a number of different methods.

UNC - Universal Naming Convention or Uniform Naming Convention, a PC format for specifying the location of resources on a local area network (LAN).  UNC uses the following format:

\\server_name\shared_resource_pathname

UNC access is always the best choice. When using UNC file access, log files in an ASCII format can be read directly from the location of the logs. There is no need to transfer the entire log to the Webtrends machine.

Note:
If the log files are in a compressed format (.zip, .gz) the log file will be transferred to the Webtrends machine where the file will be uncompressed and then processed.

FTP - Webtrends products have a built-in FTP client. This allows Webtrends to access log files that are from a hosted environment. One downside to accessing log files using FTP is that the entire log file must be transferred to the Webtrends machine before analysis can be begin.

Note: Webtrends does not recommend that log files be accessed using an administrative share (example, \\server-name\c$) or through a mapped drive.

Note: When using wildcards in a log file path, Webtrends will open every log file to determine whether or not the log file has already been analyzed. When using compressed logs this will cause longer processing times and will require much more disk space. After all historical data has been collected, it is recommended that the log path be modified to use date macros.

Log File Management
There are a few things to consider when developing a log file management procedure.

Log File Rotation
Webtrends recommends that customers rotate their log files on a daily basis. All web servers that comprise a web site should be rotated at the same time.

Log File Storage
The length of time that log files are stored is something that needs to be determined by each hosting company. The main aspect to consider is disk space.

Webtrends recommends the following structure:
\logfiles\OneWeek Stores logs for the current week unzipped.
\logfiles\OneMonth Stores logs for the current month unzipped.
\logfiles\SixMonths Stores logs for the last six months zipped.
\logfiles\Year Stores logs for the current year zipped.

All compressed log files will be uncompressed within the directory in which Webtrends is installed. Make sure that there is plenty of hard disk space available to handle the uncompressed log files.

Simultaneous Analysis
Webtrends recommends that one profile per processor be run. If the Webtrends system is a 4 or 8 processor machine, then Webtrends recommends reserving one process for the GUI. For example, if the system has 8 processors, set the simultaneous analysis to 7. This will reserve one processor for the interface. Memory (RAM) is also a factor. The Webtrends product has a 2 gigabytes of RAM per-process requirement for Webtrends 7.x products and newer.
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