6 Web App Issues You Can Uncover With Crash Logs

By on February 9, 2021

Web app issues are inevitable and often time-sensitive. If not managed appropriately, web app issues can hamper customer experience and revenue generation. Sometimes, web apps may crash no matter how well you manage them, disrupting business transactions and the end-user experience. The key is to diagnose the crash’s root cause quickly and expedite remediation.

In general, mobile apps generate crash logs to help you identify the problem. For web apps, you can instrument crash log generation based on your application stack and environment. For example, you can enable diagnostic logging for web apps deployed on Azure App Service. Alternatively, analyzing log data of a web app and components in its environment can help find anomalies or patterns that led to the crash.

This article discusses how crash logs and other log data can help find root causes of crashes.

How Do Crash Logs Help?

Web app log data contains rich information about events and application activity. If you haven’t instrumented your web app to generate crash or diagnostic logs, you can still use the app’s log data and correlate it with other relevant logs to identify issues.

Six types of web app issues you can identify from the log may cause crashes:

Application Stability Issues

An application can stop responding correctly due to inefficiently written code or sync issues. You can examine crash logs to identify the cause of instabilities. For example, a rare scenario might have triggered an infinite recursive loop in a function and eventually crashed the app. The log data contains events related to this recursive loop execution, which helps you fix this issue and quickly redeploy the application to mitigate downtime.

Multithreading Issues

Multithreading issues are among the most challenging bugs to diagnose as various threads execute similar code during the incident. A single bug may be present in many crash points, leading to memory corruption. To resolve such issues, you should test applications on different devices and try to reproduce crashes. Then you can use bug-finding tools to reproduce hard-to-reproduce crashes.

Memory Errors

Crash logs help in identifying memory inefficiencies. When a web app inefficiently uses memory, it can cause memory unavailability over a period of time, eventually crashing the web app.

Crash logs provide information about the conditions under which the application crashed, the time of the crash, memory use patterns, and much more. You can use this information to fix the causes of memory leaks and prevent such issues from crashing the web app in the future.

Traffic Spikes

Traffic spikes can happen when an application isn’t prepared for more traffic than normal, mostly during promotions or when content served by the web app goes viral. Traffic spikes usually overwhelm the web app and lead to poor performance and crashes.

You create alert rules to monitor log data and generate alerts when unusual or undesired patterns emerge. This helps you proactively understand the traffic impact on performance and increase resource capacity to handle spikes.

Malicious File Execution

When a web app isn’t correctly validated, a malicious script executed at the server side can compromise the web app’s security. In such cases, log data shows unexpected events or traces of abnormal behavior, indicating a compromise in the application environment.

Using audit trails from the logs, you can evaluate the pattern of malicious incidents to implement a configuration for an early warning system and foresee certain malicious activities.

Plugin Issues

Usually, third-party developers provide and maintain plugins. When depending on several plugins to run web apps, it can be challenging to track updates, issues, and fixes in each plugin. Unfortunately, an un-updated or partially incompatible plugin can crash a web app.

Web app error logs may also log events related to plugin activity, which can help eliminate the problem-causing plugin or update it to fix the issue.

Manage and Monitor Logs With SolarWinds Papertrail

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Application environments typically contain multiple components generating log data in different formats. Accordingly, it’s crucial to analyze all this log data instead of just investigating crash or diagnostic logs. Sometimes, information available only from crash logs might not be sufficient, and you may need to analyze other relevant logs generated in the application environment.

SolarWinds® Papertrail is a cloud-based log management solution designed to collect logs from sources throughout your application environment. It parses and indexes log data to make it searchable and provides lightning-fast search results. You can proactively monitor logs by performing automated searches on log data and set alerts based on specific log events. Papertrail integrates with popular notification tools, so you can alert appropriate technical staff.

Moreover, Papertrail provides log data analytics to visualize log event volumes and spot unusual spikes indicating abnormal behavior in your application. It also uses ANSI color coding to highlight log messages and help you skim log data faster and spot anomalies. Give Papertrail a try and sign up for a free account.

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