Differences between Urchin and Google Analytics

Even though Urchin Software was canceled a while back, this article is still relevant: data privacy regulations continue to expand, and there’s still a need for self-hosted software.

If you’re interested in a self-hosted / on-premises / secure web analytics software solution, check out Angelfish Software

Here are some of the key differences between Urchin Software & Google Analytics

Self-Hosted vs SaaS

Urchin is self-hosted web analytics software: a customer downloads, installs, and manages Urchin on their own server. The UI is accessed via a web browser.

Google Analytics is a SaaS solution: customers view reports & change config settings by logging into the UI via a web browser. Data collection, server management, security, and lower-level details are all handled by Google.

Data Security & Data Privacy

One of the advantages of self-hosted software is the inherent security of not sending your web analytics data to someone else. This is especially relevant as the scope of GDPR | CCPA | etc. continues to increase.

Urchin can be installed on most OS platforms and in secure environments, and keeps your data in your organization’s network.

Google Analytics collects and stores data in their global computing infrastructure.


This is a continuation of the Data Security & Data Privacy point: self-hosted software (like Urchin) allows you to store and view low-level details like IP addresses, usernames, location info, and more without violating privacy regulations.

Google Analytics shows aggregate data with few low-level details.

Tracking Methods: Cookieless vs Page Tags

The achilles heel of JavaScript-based tracking is that it can be blocked, and frequently is.

Urchin can use JavaScript Page Tags, or it can use standard web server access logs (i.e. cookieless tracking).

Google Analytics requires JavaScript Page Tags.

Marketing Integration

This topic is a moving target: digital marketing is constantly innovating.

Urchin provides basic functionality: you tag your digital marketing initiatives so you can see how each performs.

Google Analytics is a much more complete solution: it also provides this functionality, as well as custom marketing variables and a level of access to the Google Ads platform that no other analytics solution has. Google Analytics is the de-facto standard for marketing teams and agencies, and most digital marketing products have integration points with Google Analytics.

Websites & Web-Based Apps

Urchin can track anything that uses a web server: marketing websites, intranets, web-based applications.

Google Analytics has evolved into a reporting platform for advertising – it’s ideal for tracking marketing websites and phone apps, but is too cluttered to use for intranets & web-based applications.