A Comprehensive Guide to Logging the right way

by Solomon Eseme


Updated Sun Jun 18 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to Logging the right way

To keep an application or software running smoothly, it's crucial to monitor and document system activities regularly.

This helps identify and troubleshoot system issues and respond to security threats effectively.

While most systems have some form of logs or records, often, the information provided is insufficient for comprehensive analysis and troubleshooting.

This article will cover various aspects of logging, including the significance and advantages of logging, an essential checklist for logging best practices, the minimum data required for logs, and a comprehensive overview of different types of logs, along with their formats.

What is Logging?

Logging is the process of recording events, messages, and other information about the operation of a system or application over time. In software engineering, logging is a key component of application monitoring and debugging and is used to capture information about system events, user actions, error messages, and other data that can be used to diagnose issues and improve the performance and reliability of the system.

Importance of Logging

importance of logging.png

Troubleshooting: Logging can help identify and diagnose issues with the system, application, or network. By reviewing the logs, system administrators can identify patterns or errors that may indicate an underlying problem.

Performance monitoring: Logging can help monitor the performance of a system, application, or network by tracking metrics such as response time, resource usage, and data throughput. This information can be used to optimize the system and improve performance.

Security: Logging can help detect and respond to security threats by tracking activities such as failed login attempts, unauthorized access attempts, and other suspicious activity. This information can help identify and mitigate security breaches and protect sensitive data.

Compliance: Logging can help meet regulatory compliance requirements by recording activities such as data access, modifications, and other system changes. This information can provide an audit trail for legal or investigative purposes and help maintain compliance with industry regulations.

Historical records: Logging provides a historical record of activities and changes made to the system or application, which can be useful for future reference or analysis. These records can help identify trends or patterns and inform decisions about future changes to the system.

Logging Best Practices

Here is a logging best-practices checklist that can be used to ensure effective and efficient logging in computer systems:

Define logging requirements: Identify the specific types of information that need to be logged, such as system events, errors, performance metrics, security-related activities, or audit trail information.

Use standardized log formats: Use a standardized format for logging that includes relevant information such as timestamps, log levels, source of the log event, and the message.

Use unique identifiers: Use unique identifiers for each log event to make it easier to track and analyze log data.

Implement log rotation: If you are logging into a file, implement a log rotation strategy to ensure that log files don't grow too large and consume excessive disk space.

Implement log aggregation: Use log aggregation tools to collect and store logs from multiple sources, making it easier to search, analyze, and correlate log data.

Implement automated log monitoring and alerting: Use automated tools to monitor logs in real time and generate alerts when specific events or conditions are detected.

Minimum Data Requirements for Logs

Logs need to be very informative, so we need to capture all relevant information. For a log to be complete, it needs to answer the following question:

"Who is performing a particular action or a request on your system?"

Make sure you have a record of the user or unique identifier representing a user on your log. What is the action or request being carried out by the user?
Where did this action or request come from? You need to take a record of the user IP, user agents, and device type. When did this action or request happen? Record the timestamp alongside other relevant log information.

Here's a JSON sample of structured logging:

    user_id: 2,
    action: "Checkout",
    level: "info",
    message: "New Checkout Created",
    timeStamp: "2021-07-29 14:52:55.1623",
    useragent: { 
        browser: "Chrome"
        ip: "",
        device: "Linux"

Different Types of Logs and their formats

Request and Response Logs:

Request and response logs are a type of logging that captures information about the interactions between a client and a server. When a client sends a request to a server, the server generates a response that is sent back to the client. Request and response logs capture information about these interactions, including the contents of the request and response, as well as metadata such as timestamps, IP addresses, and user agents.

Request and Response Basic Format:

[UserIp]- [User] - [SessionId/Jwt] - [DateTime] - [HTTP Verb + Path] - [Response Code] - [Http BaseUrl/Referer] - [User-Agent]

Event Logs:

Event logs are a type of logging that captures information about important events or actions that occur within a system. logs can be used as a reliable source of information to confirm the occurrence of events in a system and their associative payload. Event logs typically contain information about the event, such as the time it occurred, the source of the event, the actor in the event, and a description of the event.

Event Log Basic Format

[Event Name] - [Timestamp] - [Source] - [Tags/Category] - [User] - [Description]

Database Logs

Database logs are a type of logging that captures information about database queries and results. These logs can be used to track changes to the database, including inserts, updates, and deletions, as well as to monitor the performance and health of the database.

Database logs typically include a timestamp, the user who performed the action, the type of action performed (such as insert, update, or delete), the table and row affected by the action, and any associated data or error messages.

Database logs can be useful for various purposes, including troubleshooting, auditing, and recovery. By analyzing database logs, administrators can identify issues with the database and take corrective action. They can also use database logs to maintain compliance with regulations that require audit trails or other types of record-keeping.

Database Log Format

[Action] - [Table] - [Query] - [Response]- [User]

Error Logs

Error logs are a type of logging that capture information about errors and exceptions that occur within an application or system. These logs are used to track errors that occur during runtime, including stack traces, error messages, and associated data. Error logs can be used to identify and diagnose issues within an application or system, and to monitor the performance and health of the system.

Error logs typically include a timestamp, the severity level of the error (such as error, warning, or information), the source of the error, and a description of the error, including any relevant error messages or stack traces. In addition to application errors, error logs may also capture system errors, such as memory allocation failures or disk space errors.

In the context of error logging, it is crucial to implement an alerting system that notifies the team of any errors based on their severity. This enables the team to quickly respond to errors and take appropriate actions to resolve them before they lead to more serious issues.


Logging is a critical practice in software development that enables effective monitoring and maintenance of applications. Without logging, software developers may lack important information needed for debugging and maintenance, leaving them in the dark.

As you work to incorporate logging into your systems, it's important to ensure that your logs are rich in data and provide the necessary information. As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing well. I hope you found this article informative and helpful. Thank you for reading!

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