As we’ve often discussed on this blog, Google Analytics has an abundance of features to offer any web company, allowing them to effectively monitor the traffic to their site. This in turn allows them to best tailor their site to the needs of their users. However, one thing which we have never yet draw attention to but really should have is Urchin. Urchin was a software company which Google acquired in 2006 and went on to become Google Analytics. However in the process there was also another variation of the web analysis software created which became known as Urchin. While both offer in-depth web analysis there are obviously many differences between the two services, so how do you know which is right for your business?
The most notable difference between Analytics and Urchin is that while Analytics as we know is accessed via the web from a Google server, Urchin is downloaded to and run from your own server. By installing the Urchin software you are allowing it to create and store all of your websites traffic information remotely as opposed to having it hosted by Google. This minor change can make a variety of major differences.
One thing to note is that Urchin is a licensed product and as such is purchased by the user – Analytics is of course free. However by purchasing Urchin you assume complete control of your data and are not dependant on Google to provide it for you. In doing so you create a variety of differences that can have both a positive and negative result. First and foremost, the IT overheads are obviously far greater for those using urchin meaning more maintenance and costs. You also must consider the space that you will need to set aside for the storage of data, log files, etc. You are also responsible for any upgrades that the software may require as well as the security of the data that you gather from users.
Analytics seems far easier as it allows you access to the data without the issues that come from maintenance and storage. This is the prime advantage of Analytics, its ease of use. However, if there weren’t advantages to using Urchin there would be no point in it. Fortunately there are several reasons why Urchin is useful.
The fact is that there are several very good reasons for storing your web traffic information yourself. The data you can read from Analytics is finite in that they can only store so much backlogged data for a user. With your own storage you can potentially store data for years and build a far more comprehensive overview of your sites traffic over time. You can also reprocess data and run a more sophisticated array of your own queries through Urchin as the data is readily available and you have full access to all of it. Furthermore for some businesses Urchin is essential. For those that require the participation of a third party in their data (such as an auditor) Analytics is simply not an option. Another reason to opt into Urchin is if you want to gather data on an intranet. Urchin can be positioned behind your firewall making it ideal if you want to restrict internet data from your logs.
Fortunately both of these services provide in-depth analysis making them both good choices for the data you will receive. This put’s your choice down to your company’s personal requirements. Ideally, running both of the services together would give a business the best of both worlds and prove the most comprehensive web data available.