Send your logs to the cloud; Loggly vs. Papertrail

N.B. This post is from 2011 – the landscape has changed since then…


Centralised cloud-based logging.  It sounds tasty – and it is – but who should you go with?  Well, Loggly and Papertrail are the only games in town when it comes to the aforementioned service; the only other competitor in this space is Splunk Storm, but their offering – well-pedigreed though it may be – is strictly in private beta at this time, and therefore cannot really be considered a valid option.

The fact of the matter is that Loggly and Papertrail are, at a high level, functionally identical. They offer more or less the same bouquet of functionality, including alert triggers, aggregate visualisation, and even map reduce tools for data mining and reporting. Loggly has been around longer, and has a better track record for open-source involvement, meaning that the eco-system around their service is more mature; however, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily superior to Papertrail in terms of the actual service.

My suggestion: If you’re in a hurry, flip a coin and go with one or the other. If you have the time, you should go ahead and try both out for a bit; Papertrail has a 7-day free trial programme, and Loggly is free (in perpetuity) for sufficiently small amounts of data and retention (which is no problem if you’re just poking around).

I’m very interested in hearing about actual user experiences with either or both, so please don’t hesitate to add a comment or drop me a line directly via the contact form.

Edit: From @pyr : « you  can also consider @datadoghq which has a different take on the issue but might fit the bill. »

Edit 2: From the comments, there’s also Logentries, which I don’t personally have any experience with, but which appears to offer a reasonably comprehensive offering as well.

Author: phrawzty

I have a computer.

14 thoughts on “Send your logs to the cloud; Loggly vs. Papertrail”

  1. Hey Dan,

    FWIW we use papertrail and we like it. Nice CLI, simple and well-executed.

    As for our own app we indeed have a different take: we’ll happily consume “meaningful” events from papertrail/loggly so that they can be discussed, explained and correlated to other quantitative performance metrics. Something like: there’s a dip in my throughput, did I have any errors picked up by loggly/papertrail?

    We’re in private beta, but I’m happy to dive deeper. Find us on freenode (#datadog) or hit me on googletalk (same as email).


  2. Hi Dan,

    we used loggly and papertrail together.
    From our perspective, Loggly has huge limitation for us – alerting. We need to share our save searches inside our company and run more than 5 pieces of searches in AlertBirds. This is “must have” feature which leads that we are rolling on Papertrail.

    Papertrail has different limitation – hasn’t inputs and HTTP API, which leads to situations where you can not segregate your data (imagine two parallel scripts which generates same type of debug output, which you can not prefixed). Secondly, you can not search through syslog levels and facility in Papertrail.

    So, we are playing with Papertrail these days and waiting on some improvements on Loggly/AlertBirds or Papertrail search engine.



  3. We used Loggly and found its search a bit restrictive/non-deterministic at times; certain characters are ignored, and so it can be difficult to hone searches at time. We’re now on Papertrail and it’s been fine to us so far, particularly with Heroku.


  4. I’d check out SumoLogic. Sumo launched in Jan 2012 & already migrated Netflix over. Sumo’s more functional than Loggly & Papertrail and less costly than all Storm, Loggly, & Papertrail.


  5. Dan,

    I’ve spent my last few years building a startup to tackle log management, and I’d love to pick your brain on your experiences. I don’t want to spam your blog, so I won’t say much here, but if you can spare a few minutes to help a startup then please drop me a line, steve at Thanks!


  6. I suggest to check Stackify, it gives you not only the log management piece but also very interesting management for error tracking combined together. So you can monitor error rates and see all logs that happened when an error was recorded. Plus it is a lot cheaper than to buy each tool seperatly


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