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Monitoring WordPress Apps with the ELK Stack

WordPress is an amazing piece of engineering. There’s little wonder that more than a quarter of all CMS-based websites are using it. In reality, though, WordPress sites crash just like any other site. Bad plugins or themes causing the “WordPress screen of death”, or WordPress updates going south, are an all too frequent occurrence.

Stock photo of man angry at computer

When something does go wrong, one of the first things you’re going to want to look at are the log files. Not because you enjoy it — log files are not easy to decipher — but because they contain valuable information that can shed light on what exactly occurred.

In modern environments however, this task is a challenge. While WordPress admins might not ever need to hear the word “log”, the web developers and DevOps crews running the site will often need to go through lines after lines of log files to understand what went wrong.

“So, what’s new?” you might ask. After all, there are plenty of WordPress plugins such as WP Log Viewer that enable you to view these logs easily from the WordPress admin panel.

While this is true, analyzing WordPress and PHP logs is simply not enough. There are also web server and database logs to sift through. To successfully query huge volumes of log messages coming in from various sources and identify correlations, a more solid solution is required.

Enter the ELK Stack. The most popular and fastest-growing open source log analytics platform, ELK allows you to build a centralized logging system that can pull logs from as many sources as you define and then analyze and visualize this data.

To show an example of using ELK, this article will go through the steps of establishing a pipeline of logs from your WordPress application into the ELK Stack. You can, if you like, use any instance of the stack to perform the exact same procedures.

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