Farewell Fathom Lite, Hello Fathom Analytics

I’m a big fan of open source. That is what initially attracted me to Fathom Analytics. You can hack it to your will, extend it, and embed it within your own product or service offering. I’ve been using Fathom since pretty much day one of it’s release and it has served me well. It’s how I track basic web stats across all of my own web hosting customers. At the beginning of June I unexpectedly said goodbye to my Fathom Lite instance and have transitioned over to using the paid version, Fathom Analytics. In short, my self-hosted instance got spammed. The stats were totally inaccurate and not usable. Here’s a comparison of a single customer.

Stats from self-hosted Fathom Lite
Stats from Jetpack

This similar bad data exists for the majority of my customers. I do not have any desire to attempt to recover the bad data, nor come up with ways to protect my Fathom instance. I’d rather just pay someone else to handle such things. Ironically Fathom Analytics themselves have recently experienced similar Spam/DDoS attacks so I felt in good hands to trust them moving forward.

Hosting plans are tied to pageviews so a swift fix was necessary.

My hosting customers are billed based on usage of storage, traffic and the number of sites. Having inaccurate web analytics would also mess up hosting renewals. Luckily this burst of web analytics spammers happened in early June and did not adversely affect anyone’s renewal. All of my renewals are scheduled for the first of the month. That meant I had until July 1st to resolve the issue.

I put a patch in place by tweaking how stats are calculated. I configured a cut off date of June 1st to pull from my Fathom Lite instance and patched in new analytics from Fathom Analytics. This does mean that many customers will receive a gap of missing stats from early June. Considering these stats are used for billing purposes, I’m okay if some folks aren’t charged as much as they should be. What I’m not OK with is an overcharge due to a failure in tracking methods. The cut off seems to be working out nicely as I’m transitioning everyone over to Fathom Analytics.

Fathom v3 is close but not quite launched.

One of the main reasons I’ve been holding off from moving to the paid version sooner was due to the lack of an API. Technically Fathom never had an API, however Fathom Lite’s internal API worked good enough for my own needs. With a little Googling I found a similar unofficial Fathom Analytics API and was able to write enough custom code for my own needs. As soon as Fathom v3 with API is released I will look to replace my crude code integration with something supported and feature rich.