I want to reduce my time spent on mindless browsing. For that reason, I’m looking for a way to analyze my extensive Firefox browsing history (undeleted since 07/2012). A program would be best, but a good way to export the data into a spreadsheet and then ideas on how to analyze it manually would work, too.
The browsing history consists of this data: Name of the website, precise URL, last time accessed on , number of times this precise URL was visited (e.g. gmail is 4x in my 7 most visited URLs).
Example: Google Reader | www.google.com/Reader/view/… (RIP) |22:16 (includes the date if it’s not today) | 2966
I want to use this data to find out what (types of) websites I’m wasting my time on, so I know which precise habits I need to tackle, and which websites I need to block or limit with LeechBlock.
I could use RescueTime or Archify from now on, but first I want to use the data I have.
Any ideas or suggestions?
I think you’re on the right track to use something like RescueTime to do this for you, but since you’ve got a bunch of history you might as well do something with it!
Off the top of my head you can probably do something simple like you suggested and just import into Excel or Google Spreadsheets to make a quick graph or two.
Or, you could try out this neat Firefox extension that looks like it does most of that domain level analysis for you. I did a quick search/read and it appears to be a Mozilla created extension and doesn’t appear to send you data away from your local machine. Check it out: about:profile addon
Blog post about the addon here.
Thanks for the quick answer!
about:profile was neat. I like/find it creepy how it accurately predicts my demographics based on my browsing history…
That said, it didn’t provide me with the info I was interested in - data about my Internet consumption habits.
Before I posted here, I googled terms like “browsing history”, and only found suggestions for deleting it. When I searched for ways to import/export it (there’s no option in Firefox itself), I finally found what I was looking for: MozillaHistoryView
It’s a freeware program for viewing and exporting the browsing history file. There are useful features when importing. Interestingly, the actual data contains more info than is displayed in the browser itself: There’s also Referrer (URL) and Visit Type (Link, Typed URL). More importantly, the data actually contains all times a certain URL was visited (!).
I already have some good ideas for how to use that data. For instance, I can plot my use of, say, gmail or Google Reader over time.
Tips for using the program:
- If your history is huge, the program might freeze for a while. Don’t panic - it worked for me even after freezing.
- To export stuff, enable all columns you want to export. Then select everything, and either save as a .csv file or similar, or directly copy & paste the data into another spreadsheet.
- Check whether you’ll need to clean up the resulting spreadsheet. Presumably due to a crash bug, Firefox claimed I had visisted one URL ~46k times within a few minutes.
PS: I’ve also installed RescueTime now. I’ll see in a few days whether it is useful for me.
If I understand you correctly, the firefox history contains the timestamp from each time you visit a website, right, not how long you spent there in a visible tab? If so, I’d be curious how your analysis of past data turns out to correlate with the future data that you collect from RT or Archify. Are the number of times/day you accessed gmail a good proxy for your minutes/day spent on gmail? I can imagine the opposite effect, actually; when I have my email in an open tab all day, I probably spend more time with it than when I just check in and close it a few separate times…