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i need a good service so i can see how many visitors are online on my website. I need a good, reliable service that can handle high-traffic. (My hand-written script failed in the high-traffic peak hours!)

Thank you!

p.s. i need a good reliable service, i dont care if it is free or paid. i just need to have reliable data! thank you!

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3 Answers

The stateless nature of HTTP is going to make it difficult for you to get an accurate picture of how many users are viewing your site's content at a given time - a user may have downloaded content from your site and be in the process of reading that content even if the content were downloaded minutes or hours ago.

One way to track how many users are actively browsing your site would be to create a server-side session for every hit - this method would not be ideal for high traffic situations if your server is already short on resources, given that each session stored on your server will require additional resources. The session timeout would also inevitably exclude users who are still viewing a piece of content beyond the window of the session timeout.

The most effective way to see how many users have your content in an open window at a given time would be to add a Javascript timer to your content and, with that timer, make a small request - preferably to a secondary tracking server - every few seconds to indicate that the user is still viewing content from your site.

I am not aware of any commercial services which implement real-time tracking in this manner, however, it would not be too difficult to put together your own if you are comfortable with asynchronous Javascript and a server-side scripting language.

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There are quite a few commercial real-time analytics services (for varying values of "real-time"). Chartbeat comes to mind as one of the more established services: chartbeat.com/demo/# –  Lèse majesté Nov 15 '10 at 4:17
    
thank you for your answer danlefree, your answer is very interesting, i am a programmer myself but at the moment i dont have time for coding. i just need a ready, tested, reliable working service. :) thank you also Lese for your comment! I just checked chartbeat, in the first sight i didnt like the layout, it looks childish and cheap (maybe it looks very good and appealing for the most webmasters but not for me) but i cannot say anything for the service itself if i dont test it, and i will test it. lets hope its good. thank you again danlefree and Lese for your answers. –  kari_kari Nov 15 '10 at 13:33
    
@kari_kari: I personally think chartbeat has a cleaner/more professional design than clicky, but that's just my opinion. However, regardless of aesthetics, it does have what you want (that big number in the top-left corner) and packs a lot of other useful info in its simple UI. Also, there is an API you can use if you prefer not to use their dashboard at all. –  Lèse majesté Nov 15 '10 at 14:08
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I like Cliky, who is pretty interesting.

Clicky is a real time web analytics service. This means that when you login and view your stats, you are seeing up to the minute data on the traffic to your web site. Most services don't let you see what's happening "today" until the day after.

But, there is maybe a problem for the traffic, here what they say when you register:

Please note, we cannot currently accept any sites that receive more than 500,000 daily page views.

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Clicky looks promising. I will sure give it a try and see if the results are good. Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for me, i dont have 500,000 daily page views... but someday i will :P :P :P hehe thank you for your answer Qyy –  kari_kari Nov 15 '10 at 13:35
    
Seems to load pretty slowly. –  UpTheCreek Apr 11 '11 at 8:49
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Have you tried Google Analytics? It's free and very reliable. If you have a HUGE amount of traffic you may have problems, but I doubt you are anywhere near that level yet.

EDIT: okay I guess I misunderstood your question. I don't know exactly what your script was doing, but it should be pretty easy to display the number of visitors online. On every page request, log the IP address and date in a database table. Then to display who's online, select all unique IP addresses that visited in the last 15 minutes or so (or up to 30 minutes if you like).

That should be pretty lightweight, but if what you have is failing at peak times, then perhaps you could optimize it. Try asking over on Stack Overflow for help.

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Im using GA right now but i want a "visitors online" reliable solution. GA doesnt provide such a service :( ---------- an out of topic question: you said "HUGE traffic - problems for GA" HUGE=??? i didnt know GA has a limit...? –  kari_kari Nov 15 '10 at 13:38
    
@kari_kari: See this question: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/2141/… - this is just for MILLIONS of page views/day which only applies to the upper echelon of sites, maybe top 500 in the world. –  DisgruntledGoat Nov 15 '10 at 13:47
    
that was an interesting topic. thank you for bringing my attention to that (for educational purposes of course... my sites are far less from these stats!!!) :) :) oh, and should i say that i actually tried one of the services the other posters suggested. im not saying which because i dont want to "advertise" :) –  kari_kari Nov 17 '10 at 17:01
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