Getting started

note

This section is for self-hosting our analytics on your server and managing your infrastructure (installation, maintenance, upgrades, server capacity, uptime, backup and so on). This is different from Plausible Analytics Cloud where we manage everything for your ease and convenience.

Plausible Analytics is designed to be self-hosted via Docker. You don't have to be a Docker expert to launch your own instance of Plausible Analytics. You should have a basic understanding of the command-line and networking to succesfully set up your own instance of Plausible Analytics.

NB: If you hit a snag with the setup, you can reach out to us on the forum. If you think something could be better explained in the docs, please open a PR on Github so the next person has a nicer experience. Happy hosting!

Version management

Plausible follows semantic versioning: MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH

You can find available Plausible versions on DockerHub. The default latest tag refers to the latest stable release tag. You can also pin your version:

  • plausible/analytics:v1 pins the major version to 1 but allows minor and patch version upgrades
  • plausible/analytics:v1.2 pins the minor version to 1.2 but allows only patch upgrades

None of the functionality is backported to older versions. If you wish to get the latest bug fixes and security updates you need to upgrade to a newer version.

Version changes are documented in our Changelog. Please note that database schema changes require running migrations when you're upgrading. However, we consider the schema as an internal API and therefore schema changes are not considered a breaking change.

Requirements

The only thing you need to install Plausible Analytics is a server with Docker installed. For the Plausible Cloud instance we use Digital Ocean (affiliate link) but any hosting provider works. If your server doesn't come with Docker pre-installed, you can follow their docs to install it.

Up and running

1. Clone the hosting repo

To get started quickly, download the plausible/hosting repo as a starting point. It has everything you need to boot up your own Plausible server.

$ git clone https://github.com/plausible/hosting
$ cd hosting

Alternatively, you can download and extract the repo as a tarball

$ curl -L https://github.com/plausible/hosting/archive/master.tar.gz | tar -x
$ cd hosting-master

In the downloaded directory you'll find two important files:

  • docker-compose.yml - installs and orchestrates networking between your Plausible server, Postgres database, Clickhouse database (for stats), and an SMTP server. It comes with sensible defaults that are ready to go, although you're free to tweak the settings if you wish.
  • plausible-conf.env - configures the Plausible server itself. Full configuration options are documented here.

2. Add required configuration

The configuration file has placeholders for required parameters. First, add your admin credentials in plausible-conf.env. Next, generate a random 64-character secret key which will be used to secure the app. Here's a simple way to generate one:

$ openssl rand -base64 64

The last step is to enter the BASE_URL for your app. It should be the base url where this instance is accessible.

3. Start the server

Once you've entered your secret key base, base url and admin credentials, you're ready to start up the server:

$ docker-compose up --detach

When you run this command for the first time, it does the following:

  • Creates a Postgres database for user data
  • Creates a Clickhouse database for stats
  • Runs migrations on both databases to prepare the schema
  • Creates an admin account (which is just a normal account with a generous 100 years of free trial)
  • Starts the server on port 80

You can now navigate to http://{hostname}:8000 and see the login screen.

Something not working? Please reach out on our forum for troubleshooting.

The Plausible server itself does not perform SSL termination. It only runs on unencrypted HTTP. If you want to run on HTTPS you also need to set up a reverse proxy in front of the server. We have instructions and examples of how to do that below.

Optional extras

At this stage, you should have a basic installation of Plausible going. With some extra configuration, you can add functionality to your instance:

1. MaxMind geolocation database

Plausible uses the GeoLite2 database created by MaxMind for enriching analytics data with visitor countries. Their end-user license does not make it very easy to just package the database along with an open-source product.

This is why, to get country data for your analytics, you need to create an account here. Once you have your account details, open the geoip/geoip.conf file and enter your GEOIP_ACCOUNT_KEY and GEOIP_LICENSE_KEY. Then, combine both the base docker-compose file with the one in the geoip folder:

$ docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f geoip/docker-compose.geoip.yml up

The geoip/docker-compose.geoip.yml file downloads and updates the country database automatically, making it available to the plausible container.

2. Reverse proxy

By default, Plausible runs on unencrypted HTTP on port 8000. We recommend running it on HTTPS behind a reverse proxy of some sort. You may or may not already be running a reverse proxy on your host, let's look at both options:

No existing reverse proxy

If your DNS is managed by a service that offers a proxy option with automatic SSL management, feel free to use that. We've successfully used Cloudflare as a reverse proxy in front of Plausible Self Hosted and it works well. Please note that in this case your solution will not be completely cookie-free as Cloudflare sets cookies on your visitors' devices.

Alternatively, you can run your own Caddy server as a reverse proxy. This way your SSL certificate will be stored on the host machine and managed by Let's Encrypt. The Caddy server will expose port 443, terminate SSL traffic and proxy the requests to your Plausible server. Full instructions.

Existing reverse proxy

If you're already running a reverse proxy, the most important things to note are:

  1. Configure the virtual host to match the BASE_URL in your plausible configuration
  2. Proxy the traffic to 127.0.0.1:8000 or {ip-adrress}:8000 if running on a remote machine
  3. Ensure the X-Forwarded-For is set correctly

The most important thing to note with an existing reverse proxy is that the X-Forwarded-For header is set correctly. If the remote client IP is not forwarded to the Plausible server, it cannot detect visitor countries and unique user tracking will be inaccurate.

In our hosting repo, you'll find useful example configurations in case you're already running Nginx or Traefik 2.

note

Self-hosting our analytics product is free as in beer. You only need to pay for your server and whatever cost there is associated with running a server. You never have to pay any fees to us, only to your cloud server provider. If you choose to self-host Plausible you can become a sponsor and support Plausible with a donation.