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The term 'watchdog' is a bit of a Drupal anachronism, as it refers to a deprecated module for monitoring a Drupal site and recording system events for review and debugging. However, the name persists in both function and table names individual triggered by the word 'watchdog' tends to get the message across. Starting in Drupal 6, Drupal defaults to using the dblog module for logging to the watchdog database table and these logs are visible in the site. From the browser, go to Reports, then Recent log messages.
There are a number of filters that can be applied in a single button to clear all log messages. It's functional, but it's a bit cumbersome. Switching back to the commands line, I will use Drush to retrieve and search for log messages. There are three commands relating to watchdog, the first, "watchdog list" aliased as wd-list shows a list of available message types and severity levels in a very similar way to the select list from the browser interface.
And it will prompt the user for a choice to show messages, drush wd-list. Type "1" to see a list of access denied messages. Next, the proverbial firehose, watchdog show, drush ws. It's a much more powerful tool for displaying messages and it has a number of useful options, drush ws --help. A single argument allows the operator to specify a particular watchdog log id for additional details.
If emitted, watchdog show will default to the last 10 messages. This option can be combined to provide strict controls over what is shown. For example, drush ws --count =5 --type=system. This will show five messages which in this case are just info. Combine the type and severities shown from the watchdog list with the options in watchdog show and the potential power of this tool can be realized. One of the options, tail, is an easily overlooked, but extremely useful utility that will continuously show watchdog messages as they are generated in real-time until interrupted.
For example, I will launch it for failed logins, drush ws --type="access denied" --tail. Keeping the council window open, I will open a browser, log out, and attempt to access a page that I do not have access to, such as /admin. Notice the new log entry shown in watchdog show with a type access denied and the message containing the URL that was attempted to be accessed.
To break out of this view, press Ctrl+C.Reviewing logs can turn up important items that may have gone unnoticed such as the need to update Drupal or a module.
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