You Don't Have to be a Computer Genius to...
Put a Counter on Your Website!!!
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Have you ever wondered how many people have visited your website? If you'd like to keep track, you can put a counter on the front page or any other page you want to guage. I decided to start simply and keep track of how many of my friends had visited my website. Do you know what I discovered?...YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A COMPUTER GENIUS TO...Put a Counter on Your Website!!!

Here's a step-by-step guide. ONE DISCLAIMER, I WILL BE DESCRIBING THE STEPS I TOOK USING THE WEBHOSTING AND SOFTWARE SERVICES I HAVE CHOSEN. IF YOU HAVE DIFFERENT BACK-END SUPPORT, YOU WILL HAVE TO ADJUST ACCORDINGLY.

My Tools:

Summary:

Whenever someone types in the address of your website, your web server checks for a file named .htaccess. (.htaccess has many functions other than triggering a counter, such as enabling password protection) before displaying the page. If the .htaccess file is present on your root directory AND contains the right code, your server will count the number of people that visit your website. The page logs are tracked in a ".counter" file.

Here's what I needed to do:

a) Create a new file called ".counter" (note: the "." before counter) and place it in my root directory (i.e., the directory that shows up when I first connect to my web hosting service, Web2010.)
b) Edit the existing ".htaccess" file in that same root directory
c) Edit the html code of my "index.html" file

Step-by-Step:

  1. Run TELNET Program to Create and Modify Files Directly to the Server. Windows 98 comes with a basic TELENT Program. I went to START, then clicked on RUN and typed telnet mydomain.com. (Hit ENTER) What popped up was a white screen in the DOS style. At the LOGIN prompt, I typed in my Web2010 username and at the PASSWORD prompt, I typed in my Web2010 password. (Hit ENTER). IF You use SSH instead then do the following:

  2. Download Free version of SSH and connect to server. If you don't already have SSH, you can either go to www.ssh.com to purchase the protocol or go to www.tucows.com to download a basic version of SSH as freeware; it's called PUTTY. Once SSH is downloaded in your "my download files" on your "c" drive (or to whatever location you chose to download), create a shortcut a put the SSH Putty icon (of two computers and a lightening bolt) on your desktop. Click on the icon and in the Putty configuration box that pops up, you'll see "seesion" under category on the left column. Click that and on the right where it says "Basic Options for your Putty Session" specify your connection by typing in your domain name (including the ".com", but no "www") and under protocol click "SSH." Then under "Saved Sessions" type your domain name again in the white blank line and click "save" to save the session. Now you can click "open" and a black screen comes up. You are connected! If the black screen does not pop up or is "inactive", go back to your Putty Configuration Box and in the lower left column under "Connection", highlight SSH. Then, in the right column under "Preferred SSH Protocol" click Version 2 and hit "Open." Then reinput the domain.

  3. Create .Counter File. The screen displayed the path to my domain (or root directory) on Web2010's servers... www26:/mnt/web/guide/yourdomain#. On the same line I typed touch .counter (note the space before ".counter). This created a ".counter" file on my root directory. (hit ENTER.) The new ".counter" file I created was empty. It acts as the count log and records the current count in binary form as web daemon writes to it with each hit.

  4. Owenership and Permissions. The new ".counter" file needed to be owned by my username with permissions set at 666 to work properly. To change the permissions on the ".counter" file with TELNET, I typed the following chmod 666 .counter (hit ENTER). To change ownership at the command line, I typed the following chown username .counter (Note: substitute your actual Web2010 username and don't forget the spaces!) (hit ENTER)

  5. Create or Edit .htaccess File. Then I had to edit the existing ".htacess" file on my root directory. At the path directory prompt (i.e., www26:/mnt/web/guide/yourdomain#) I typed pico .htaccess (note: the space before ".htaccess"). This either creates a ".htaccess" file on your root directory if you don't already have one or, in my case, it opened the already existing ".htaccess" file on my root directory. On the blank white PICO screen I typed the following: Counterfile /mnt/web/guide/yourdomain/.counter (Note: space after "Counterfile", but no space before .counter. It will look like this Counterfile /mnt/web/guide/mhwebcreations/.counter). If you already have code inside your ".htaccess" file then you'll have to scroll down to find room or hit the return key to make room. My ".htacess" file was empty. IMPORTANT: there are other ways to accomplish putting code in your ".htaccess" file. For example, you could have used Notepad and saved the document as text and FTP'ed it to your server. I just think the TELNET-PICO combo is the easiest. Next, I saved the new ".htaccess" file in PICO by hitting CTRL X and responding yes or y to the "save modified buffer prompt." Remember, when you use TELNET, you automatically have saved directly to the server.

  6. Check. At this point, I wanted to check my root directory to make sure I had created a ".counter" file that was empty and a ".htaccess" file that had the above-described one line of code. To check my work, I opened my FTP program by going to START, then PROGRAMS and clicking on WS_FTP. Once I connected to my FTP program by connecting with my Web2010 username and password, my root directory popped up. The screen was split showing the contents of my computer on the left and the contents of my domain on the right. I refreshed the screen by clicking the REFRESH button and saw both the ".counter" and ".htaccess" files. I was halfway there!

  7. Edit index.html page. Now, I had to add the actual counter code to my front page or "index.html" file. I opened DREAMWEAVER, my web design software and opened the file called "index." I added the following code to bottom of the page where I wanted the counter to appear: <img src="/server-cntr?face=default"> (Note: the space after "img"). In fact, you can add this code to any web page in any subdirectory and it will count hits on that page for you.

  8. Check. Before modifying the counter's graphical look, I first tested what I'd done. I saved the "index.html" file in Dreamweaver and then FTP'ed the "index.html" to the "www" directory of my domain. I opened mydomain.com and pulled up the first page a few times to make sure the counter was counting--it was! IMPORTANT: If the counter does not work, you should check the ownership and permissions of the new ".counter" file. Or check the line of script you added to the ".htaccess" file to see that you substituted yourdomainname prefix in the line of text.

  9. Establishing or Resetting Account. If you ever want to set the number on your counter to something different from what appears (you know...to add a few hundred hits to make yourself look popular!), you must TELNET your domain's root directory again, telnet yourdomain.com. At the command line...www26:/mnt/web/guide/yourdomain#, type: countctl.pl -s/index.html (Note: space before "-s") (or the name of the homepage if not index.html) (hit ENTER.). You will be prompted for a count number, enter up to 10 digits and hit ENTER. Refresh you homepage and the new count should be displayed.

  10. Modifying the Counter Display. Web2010 provides cgi script on each server that displays html code with examples of different fonts etc. that I could use to cut and paste on my page. I had to know the server where my website is located. For example, www26.hostcentric.com. To see the counter choices displayed in a browser, I used the URL http://www26.hostcentric.com/cgi-bin/show-digits.cgi. I picked a style I liked and substituted the available html code on my index.html page.

  11. Checking Usage Logs. Web2010 provides the ability to check usage logs by opening a browser and typing in http://yourdomain.com/logs/usage.html.

Copyright 2000-2001 Marlene Hollander. All rights reserved.