Compare Cloudflare web analytics to Fathom Analytics

Cloudflare launched their web analytics at the end of 2020. They offer privacy-first, lightweight and simple website analytics—and their analytics are free.

Fathom Analytics launched in 2018 and also offers simple, private-focused website analytics. Our product is paid, but as you’ll see below, paying for a product has benefits.

This page looks at Cloudflare Web Analytics’s features and how they compare to Fathom Analytics (and vs Google Analytics). Let’s get started.

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What is Cloudflare web analytics?

It’s a little confusing, but Cloudflare offers “Analytics” and “Web Analytics,” which are very different products.

Cloudflare Analytics is similar to server-side logs, where you see analytics based on DNS settings (not via a javascript embed file). The problem with Cloudflare Analytics (and all server log software) is that it’s wildly inaccurate. That’s because it includes things like bots and spam (which Fathom Analytics filters out for all customers by default) and doesn’t do an excellent job of determining if someone is a unique visitor.

Cloudflare Web Analytics (their newer product) is similar to Fathom in that it’s a small javascript embed file used to collect customer privacy-focused web stats. It’s also free to use (more on it being free further in).

Cloudflare describes their new analytics product as: “Non-invasive and respects the privacy of your visitors.”

That’s what Fathom Analytics does, too: a simple, respectful privacy way to collect data about your website visitors without spying on them or using their data advertiser at them.

So, let’s compare exactly how Cloudflare Web Analytics and Fathom Analytics differ.

How is Cloudflare Web Analytics different from Fathom Analytics?

While Fathom and Cloudflare Web Analytics are simple and privacy-focused, there are some vast and essential differences. Let’s get into the specifics to decide which makes the most sense for you to use on your website.

The main difference is focus. Cloudflare has lots of products (paid) that drive revenue, so those products get the most attention and development. Their web analytics, as you can see from their changelog, has only about a dozen sentences of updates over the entire lifespan of their web analytics product.

On the other hand, Fathom Analytics has a constantly updated changelog full of new features, tweaks, improvements, and fixes. This showcases our dedication to our one and only product: website analytics.

You cannot export your data on Cloudflare Web Analytics

There’s no way to get your data out of Cloudflare Web Analytics except an odd “Print this page” button, which is just a printout of the dashboard without lines on it. So, if you want to save your data from Cloudflare, you can’t.

This is not an export from Cloudflare Web Analytics, because that feature doesn't exist.

With Fathom Analytics, we let you export all your data at any time and give you usable CSV files. You can export all your data from the start of your usage with our software because it’s your data. You should have access to it when you want it.

Cloudflare doesn’t feel the same, as it doesn’t have any export feature.

Cloudflare Web Analytics doesn’t keep your data for very long

Along with being able to export data in Cloudflare Web Analytics, your data is deleted from their software very quickly. Their documentation says they keep your data for up to 6 months. There is hardly any time at all to compare or contrast different periods (they also don’t have a feature to compare date ranges).

Fathom Analytics lets you keep, view and export your data forever. So, if you signed up five years ago and started collecting data, you could still view (and compare—since Fathom has a compare feature) your first day of data to today. We would never delete customer data on any plan unless they closed their account.

Limiting data is a way for Cloudflare to offer a free plan on their website analytics, as it doesn’t cost them much to store data for a very short period of time. But we’d argue that a few months is hardly enough data to be helpful when comparing it against other periods. So you get what you don’t pay for.

Cloudflare Web Analytics defines unique visitors in a different way

Fathom Analytics and Cloudflare Web Analytics consider a “unique visitor” quite differently and define the term quite differently as well.

A Fathom Analytics unique visitor is a person who visits your website. They are unique because each person is unique. So a person can visit your site three times in a day and view 16 pages, and they’re still a single unique visitor (who had 16 page views). We reset unique visitors every 24 hours for privacy. This makes Fathom Analytics extremely accurate. Especially when combined with our bot/spam filtration. You can even block your own visits from Fathom Analytics if you do not want to include them in your stats.

Cloudflare Web Analytics defines a unique visitor as:

“A page view that originated from a different website or direct link. Cloudflare checks where the HTTP referrer does not match the hostname. One visit can consist of multiple page views.”

That means anytime someone visits a page from another site using Cloudflare Web Analytics, they’re a unique visitor. Even if the same person visits your site from another site three times, they’re still the same person; Cloudflare counts them as three unique visitors. At least they admit their analytics aren’t very accurate in their documentation (and too high because of it).

Cloudflare Web Analytics has limits on the data you get to access

While Cloudflare Web Analytics is simple, it’s much simpler than Fathom Analytics.

For example, you can’t view metrics like these in Cloudflare Web Analytics:

  • UTM campaign data
  • Live visitors/real-time visits
  • Events and event completions
  • Ecommerce data
  • Entry pages
  • Breakdowns by domain

These are essential metrics for anyone who cares about website analytics.

All of the data that exist on Fathom Analytics are easy/simple to set up and use. We also make that data much more helpful, as you can quickly see what marketing campaigns are performing well, what products are selling the most (and how much revenue they generate), and even if your site has gone viral (i.e. there are loads more people viewing it right now than usual).

While the visitor data is quite limited and not very useful, Cloudflare Web Analytics gives you access to things like page load times, first paints, and core web vitals. All these things can be viewed for free in other tools, but seeing them in a single place can be nice.

More Cloudflare Analytics cons

There are also a few more features that Fathom Analytics has that Cloudflare Web Analytics doesn’t, which are worth pointing out:

Cloudflare Web AnalyticsFathom Analytics
Cloudflare has no support for free plans and instead offers a message board where other customers can sometimes help.Fathom Analytics has fantastic customer support that’s always only an email away.
Cloudflare Web Analytics doesn’t work at all on mobile.Fathom Analytics works great on mobile and tablets.
Cloudflare Web Analytics comes in a single flavour: retina-burning white.Fathom Analytics has a dark mode for our software.
Cloudflare requires logging in to view an analytics dashboard (no sharing).Fathom Analytics allows for dashboard sharing with anyone in a few clicks.
Cloudflare has no email reporting.Fathom Analytics offers weekly and monthly email reports.
Cloudflare doesn’t have a referral plan.Fathom Analytics has a 25% commission for life referral plan.
Cloudflare has no importer or any way to import data.Fathom Analytics has an easy-to-use and quick Google Analytics importer.
Cloudflare doesn’t seem to exclude bots, spam and scrapers.Fathom Analytics goes to great lengths to ensure the data you see on your dashboard represents real, unique humans visiting your website.
Cloudflare limits the number of items to 15. So, if you have 20 pages on your website or 20 sites that refer traffic to your website, you’ll only see the top 15 in Cloudflare, and the bottom 5 will be deleted.With Fathom, you see all of the items, even if they are in the thousands.

Cloudflare offers free web analytics because they’re a massive company that makes money from other products. So their Cloudflare Web Analytics feels like a half-baked, barely supported and updated, small add-on to their main revenue-generating business. Yes, it’s free, but it’s also not well fleshed out or functional—and worse, it has very short data retention windows.

Google Analytics offers free software because they’re an advertising company and don’t need to charge for their analytics. They make so much money (billions) by selling our collective data to advertisers who follow us online. Yes, Google Analytics is free, but it definitely comes with a high price (in terms of digital privacy). See how Fathom compares to Google Analytics.

Fathom Analytics, on the other hand, only does website analytics. It’s our only product, mission, and 100% core focus. We live, breathe and love website analytics, so it’s not just a bolt-on to something else we’re selling. Our business model is simple: we offer our software product for a fair price (starting at just $15/month) and use that revenue to keep improving our analytics software.

Fathom Analytics free 30-day trial

If you’d like to try Fathom Analytics for free, sign up today for a 30-day trial (at no cost). We think you’ll see just how much of a great alternative our software is compared to Cloudflare Web Analytics.

Just a few of the companies already using Fathom Analytics
Mclaren Automative IBM HashiCorp GitHub New York Times Laravel

I consider Fathom a must have tool if you want to understand what's happening with your website traffic—it's simple, speedy, and accurate.

Ruben Gamez Ruben Gamez
Founder Signwell & Bidsketch

After switching to Fathom for my web properties, I find I'm more attentive to my sites because I'm always aware of how many people are on them and which pages are most popular.

Caleb Porzio Caleb Porzio
Creator of Alpine.js

They are the best Google Analytics alternative who really care about privacy and simplicity. Fathom’s simple dashboard with clear metrics makes it easy to understand what's happening across all web properties.

Jessica Joyce Jessica Joyce
SEO Expert

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Fathom Analytics is simpler, more accurate and privacy-first. Import your Google Analytics data (UA and GA4), add our single line of code, and watch real-time analytics from your site pour in.

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