A Survey on Preprocessing of Web Log File in Web Usage Mining to Improve the Quality of Data

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International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459,ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 8, August 2014)


A Survey on Preprocessing of Web Log File in Web Usage

Mining to Improve the Quality of Data

R. Lokeshkumar


, R. Sindhuja


, Dr. P. Sengottuvelan


1Assistant Professor - (Sr.G), 2PG Scholar, 3Associate Professor, Department of Information Technology, Bannari Amman

Institute of Technology, Tamilnadu.

Abstract—Web mining is to discover and extract useful information. In the internet era web applications are increasing at enormous speed and the web users are increasing at exponential speed. As number of users grows, web site publishers are having increasing their information for attracting and satisfying users. it is possible to trace the users’ essence and interactions with web applications through web server log file and Web log file contains only (.txt) file. The data stored in the web log file consist of large amount of eroded, incomplete, and unnecessary information. Because of large amount of irrelevant data’s available in the web log file, an original log file can not be directly used in the web usage mining. So prepeocessing technique is applied to improve the quality and efficiency of a web log file. Different techniques are applied in preprocessing that is data cleaning, data fusion, data integration. In this paper we will survey different preprocessing technique to identify the issues in web log file and to improve web usage mining preprocessing for pattern mining and analysis.

Keywordsdata cleaning, data fusion, data integration, Preprocessing technique, Web usage mining, web log file.


Web mining is one of the important fields of data mining. To achieve performance, web personalization and schema modification of web site they applied technique called data mining on content, structure and log files.

Web log file is located in three different locations they are web server logs, Web proxy server and client browser. Web log file provides most complete and accurate usage of data to web server but the log file do not record cached pages visited. Web proxy server takes http request from user, gives them to web server, result passed to web server and return to web server.

In Client browser, log files can reside in client browser window itself, http cookies are used for client browsers, http cookies are piece of information gathered by a web server and stored in user’s computer, ready for further access. Web mining is divided into three types, they are web content mining, web structure mining, web usage mining. In web structure mining based on hyperlinks and intra links inside/outside the web pages we mine the structure of websites. In web content mining user getting useful information from the content of web site which may include text, images, video, audio, hyperlinks. To gather data for content mining they used search engines and web spiders like Web robots. Content server log file are of different types that is access log, agent log, error log and refer log.

Referrer log is used to recording the referrer enter, that a user came from the particular web site by using the user’s page link. In this google has implemented the page-rank algorithm for assigning the weight to referrer sites.

Error log file is used to record the error found on web sites especially when user clicks on particular link and the browser does not display the particular page or web site and the user receives error 404 not found.

Agent log file is used to record the information about user’s browser, browsers version and operating system. Different versions of different user’s browsing history are very helpful for designer and web site changes are made accordingly.


International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459,ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 8, August 2014)




Attributes Description

Client IP Client machine IP Address

Client name Client Name if required by

server otherwise hyphen(-)

Date Date is recorded when User

Made access and transfer.

Time Time of transformation is


Server site name Internet service name as

appeared on client machine

Server Computer name Server name

Server IP Server IP provided by

internet service provider

Server port Server port configured for

data transformation Client server URL

stream Targeted default web page of web site

Client server URL

Query Client query which starts after “?”

Server client status Status code returned by

server link

Server client Bytes Number of bytes sent by

server to client

Client server Bytes Number of bytes received by


Client server methods Client method or model of

request can be Get, POST or HEAD

Time taken How much spent by client to

perform an action

Client server version Protocol version like HTTP

Client server host Host header name

User agent Browser type that client used

Cookies Contents of cookies

Referrer Link from where client jump

to this site Server client win32

status Windows status code

There are three main types of web server log file formats to capture the activities of user on web site. All the three log files should be in ASCII text format.

Log file act as health monitor for the web sites and are the main source of user access data and user feedback.

Web log file is a simple plain text file which records information about each user, display of log files data in three different forms namely, web server log formats namely Common log file format (NCSA), Extended log format (W3C), IIS log format.

W3C log format is default log file format on ASCII server. Field are separated by space, time is recorded as GMT (Green which Mean Time). It can be customized that is administrator can add or remove fields depending on the web server manager.

#software: Version of ASCII that is running #Version: The log file format

#Date: To record the date and time of first log entry #Fields: This is not standard format because the fields may change based on server.

#software: Microsoft Internet Information Server 7.5


#Date:2014-01-22 09:55:33

#Fields: date time cs-method cs-uri-stem c-ip sc-version sc-status example:

2014-01-13 5:34:11 GET/website/::1HTTP/1.1301 Fig 1 Example for W3C log file format

In fig 1. Field formats are date, time, client Ip address, Method, URL stream, protocol status, version

NCSA (National Centre for Supercomputing Application Format) is to record basic information about the user request such as user name, record host name, date, time, request type, HTTP status code and numbers of bytes send by server showed in Fig 2. NCSA is a fixed format, it cannot be changed.

::1—[20/feb/2014:11:02:44+05300 ”GET/website/HTTP/1.1”200 1107

Fig 2 Example for NCSA log file format


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::1, -, 1/25/2012, 9:57:42, W3SVC1, JAY-PC, ::1, 3,

965, 1153, 200, 0, POST, /Web Site/default.aspx, -, Fig 3 Example for ASCII log file format


Preprocessing is the essential step fro web usade mining. Preprocessing phase will occus after creating a web log file. A web log file is an input of preprocessing phase of web usage mining. Web log file is large in large, contains number of raw datas, images, audio / video files. The main aim of preprocessing is to make an unstructures/ semistructured web log file data into a structured form by eliminating the unwanted datas from log. We came to a conclusion that preprocessing is very important in web usage mining. Preprocessing steps increases the quality of dada and improves the effictivenrss and efficiency of the othwr steps in web usage mining like pattern discovery and pattern analyais.


According to Murata and Saito (2006) user’s interests can be revealed through graph based on their web surfing. In this research, first authors collected the users’ accesses from the user search keyword and graph is generated from it. By applying PageRank algorithm mined from graph to assign importance to accessed pages. In next step, unwanted nodes and weak edges were removed from graph. At last, graph is decomposed into further sub graphs, which depict the behaviour of users surfing. The usage of client log file in WUM has become ineffective so it is important to mention that some sort of cleaning was performed to remove the inconsistent and noisy data. User’s interests can be mined in better way by grouping the interests based on page visited in a particular time interval.

According to Pabarskaite (2002) that preprocessing of web log file plays an important role in WUM. To remove the irrelevant links from log file, cleaning technique was used. A filtered web log is obtained by comparing the both raw web log and link table.

To obtain source code is sometimes difficult and web site designers usually have reservations on source code. Only for specific and limited analysis within a particular domain, this technique can be implemented. The authors performed data cleaning; but no other preprocessing technique was applied such as path completion, filtering, data integration and data grouping. Users and user sessions were not identified which play vital role in up coming steps of WUM.

According to Wahab, et al., (2008) proper analysis of log file is used for proper management of bandwidth and server capacity. Preprocessing step is complex and laborious task. Authors also discussed the various types of log file in detail based on 19 attributes. In this paper authors proposed algorithm two algorithms, first algorithm is to read the log file from any of the three given log file formats and convert the log file data into a database. Second algorithm is to filter out the all the un-interested attributes of web log file.

Only “URL” attributes was declared interested. Date,

Time, IP Address,and User Agentare some other useful

attributes were also dropped. By dropping out such important attributes, the reliability of later phases of Web usage mining cannot be secured. We come to the conclusion that proposed algorithms for data cleaning and data filtering techniques are very weak and needs to be modified.

According to Suneetha and Krishnamoorthi (2004) discussed various sources of web log files such as web server log, proxy log and client log. And, authors discussed the structure of web log file in detail. Authors performed two preprocessing techniques data cleaning and user identification. For their experiment, they took the server web log file as example. In data cleaning step, image pages were removed and in user identification step, authors used three attributes from log file. These attributes are IP Address, Operating System, and User Agent. Data Integration technique was also mentioned but not incorporated. By performing just one or two steps cannot guarantee the reliable results for other two phase of WUM. Sessions identification is another very important technique at preprocessing level, which authors did apply in this paper.

According to Huiying and Wei, 2004 First the data cleaning process on web log file is carries out.

1. Removing records with graphics and videos format such gif, JPEG.

2. Removing records by checking the status code. 3. Removing records applying robot cleaning process. Now came to the conclusion that, if we done the above three steps in web log files then the unwanted data’s are removed and size of web log file will also become less. When compared to other approaches, novel technique reduces the cleaning time even the steps in more.

According to Varunakshi Bhojane, Preprocessing converts the captured log data in to the valuable information which can be given for further pattern discovery. Preprocessing steps includes

1. Extraction the attributes from the web log which is located in web server


International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459,ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 8, August 2014)


3. Manage the data and put it in relational database or data warehouse.

Now came to a conclusion that, the information after Data Preprocessing can be given to pattern discovery process which includes three different steps in data mining techniques that is clustering, classification and association rules, since irreverent information is removed, so that it speeds up the execution time and provides with valuable information to the users.

From the analysis of web log file and Meta data of page contents user profile were derived In this paper server log file was taken with some mandatory fields such as User-ID, Requested pages and Content-related meta-data. After initial preprocessing, graph of log file is obtained and file is converted into adjacency matrix. Adjacency matrix gives information about user interest viewed pages. By using formula given in Equ 1. Significant pages for user profile can be taken.

s = 1 +2* log (n) --- (Equ. 1)

Here author applied three preprocessing techniques they are, data cleaning, user identification and session identification. Now conclude that it can be said that to extract user profiles, session classification can be more helpful at preprocessing level, which authors completely missed.

According to Yuan, et al., (2003) describes preprocessing on log file as basic activity of Web usage mining. To remove irrelevant entries from log file Author applied two approaches, First authors applied the data cleaning technique, second is path completion technique at preprocessing level User identification technique was also performed based on IP Address, operating system and browsing software. Session identification step was performed based on log file attributes such as IP addresses, referrer null pages, and certain timeout limit of 30 minutes. All the steps of preprocessing were well supported by the proposed algorithms. If authors’ research were able to give some more leverage to WUM users at this level, such as grouping the similar sessions, that could be much better approach.

According to Khasawneh & Chan (2006) log files are designed for not for data mining techniques. It is also designed for debugging purposes; User identification and session identification are also very important and essential step. In this research user’s sessions were identified by applying website ontology based on the structure of web site and features extracted from the pages. Users are identified based on IP Address and user stay for long time in inactive mode. A user was represented as triplet of IP Address, date, and time of visit and set of records visited by user in that period of time as showed in Equ 2.

U ∈ <cip, lastdate, time,{rs.re}>--(Equ. 2)

The authors used maximal forward reference algorithm MF, to convert the user access transactions into database. MF algorithm has its own draw back such as we can miss the number of important log transactions as well. Sessions were not grouped further to help in reducing the complexities of other WUM steps.

According to Castellano, et al., (2007), author develops a tool LODAP for the preprocessing of web log file. The developed Tool provides report summary at each step. It has there preprocessing steps.

Step 1: In Data cleaning was performed based on access method, status code, multimedia objects, and request generated through robots.

Step 2: In Data structuration, user sessions were identified based on IP Address, maximum timeout and set of resources within corresponding access time as given in Equ 3.

S (i) = u (i), t (i), r (i) --- (Equ.3)

Step 3: In Data filtering, least requested pages were removed after defining threshold value.

For each resource r, total numbers of sessions NSi

were calculated. Moreover, user defined threshold value

ε, removes the each request NSi < ε. LODAP tool supports the preprocessing steps along with reports facility at each level of preprocessing in the form of data summarization. We come to the conclusion that it is a good effort by authors to support their work by proper MS Access based tool. In summing up it can be said that if authors were able to perform some sort of classification through LODAP, it would be an effective tool for preprocessing of Web usage mining.


In the above session we have discussed the literature survey on web log pre-processing of web usage mining. we found that data cleaning, data filtering, path completion, user identification, session identification, page view identification, visit identification, episode identification, data summarization are commonly used techniques in pre-processing level of web usage mining. We also observe that in each and every log they used different attributes in different preprocessing techniques. Most commonly used attributes are ip address, date, time, URL, and User agent.

Table 2 summarizes the Preprocessing techniques based on attributes such as source of log file, log file format, preprocessing technique, algorithm applied and tool support to the preprocessing phase.


International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459,ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 8, August 2014)


Only the Author: Murata and Saito (2006) performed their experiment on client log. In data cleaning technique, irrelevant entries from web log are removed. This is widely used preprocessing technique and it has been performed as mandatory preprocessing technique.

In filtering technique Author: Pabarskaite, (2002) and Wahab, et al.,(2008) use the structure of web site and source code and considered data filtering as sub step of data cleaning and further cleaning was performed.And In filtering technique author: Castellano, et al, (2007) filtered out the least visited pages.

To identify the individual users Suneetha, et al., (2009), Khasawneh, (2006) and Yuan, et al., (2003) used IP Address, browsing software and operating system attributes from web log. And Stermsek, et al., (2007) [7] consist of only used IP Address to identify the users.


Preprocessing of web log file is first necessary and important process for web usage mining.

Cleaned data after preprocessing is solid base for pattern mining and pattern analysis. Quality of pattern mining and pattern analysis is fully dependent on preprocessing process. In this survey, we summarized the existing web log preprocessing techniques and concluded some results. Most authentic source for web usage mining considers Server log file. So it must be standardized and needs to be updated to capture user access data. Some of preprocessing techniques are applied but we can use less or even ignored preprocessing techniques to improve the quality of preprocessed data. For future work we should explore preprocessing techniques and use them with the combination of existing techniques to make the whole process more robust. New techniques can provide the user to analyze the log file at different level of abstraction such as user sessions. To gain better understanding of log file we need hierarchical clustering by using proposed clustering technique.

Table 2

Summary Of Preprocessing Technique.

Author Parameters

Source of Log File

Preprocessing Technique Algorithm Applied Automated

Murata and

Saito Client log file Data cleaning Page rank Yes

Pabarskite Server log Advanced data cleaning ,

filtering, data visualization


Wahab, et al Server log File recording data cleaning, data

filtering Proposed Semi automatic

Suneetha and

Krishnamoorthi Server log Data cleaning, user identification NA NA

Huiying and

Wei Server log Data cleaning NA NA


Bhojane Server log Data cleaning, user identification, path completion Proposed Yes

Stermsek, et al Server log Data cleaning, user identification,

session identification NA NA

Yuan, et al Server log path completion, Data cleaning,

user identification, session identification

Proposed NA

Khasawneh &

Chan Server log User identification, session identification Proposed LODAP

Castellano, et al Server log Advanced data cleaning , data

filtering, data structuration


International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459,ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 8, August 2014)



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Table 2  Summary Of Preprocessing Technique.

Table 2

Summary Of Preprocessing Technique. p.5