While CakePHP core Configure Class settings can really help you see what’s happening under the hood, there are certain times that you’ll need to log data to the disk in order to find out what’s going on. In a world that is becoming more dependent on technologies like SOAP and AJAX, debugging can be rather difficult.

Logging can also be a way to find out what’s been going on in your application over time. What search terms are being used? What sorts of errors are my users being shown? How often is a particular query being executed?

Logging data in CakePHP is easy - the log() function is a part of the Object class, which is the common ancestor for almost all CakePHP classes. If the context is a CakePHP class (Model, Controller, Component… almost anything), you can log your data. You can also use CakeLog::write() directly. See Writing to logs

Creating and configuring log streams

Log stream handlers can be part of your application, or part of plugins. If for example you had a database logger called DatabaseLog as part of your application, it would be placed in app/Lib/Log/Engine/DatabaseLog.php. If you had a database logger as part of a plugin, it would be placed in app/Plugin/LoggingPack/Lib/Log/Engine/DatabaseLog.php. When configured, CakeLog will attempt to load Configuring log streams, which is done by calling CakeLog::config(). Configuring our DatabaseLog would look like:

// for app/Lib
CakeLog::config('otherFile', array(
    'engine' => 'Database',
    'model' => 'LogEntry',
    // ...

// for plugin called LoggingPack
CakeLog::config('otherFile', array(
    'engine' => 'LoggingPack.Database',
    'model' => 'LogEntry',
    // ...

When configuring a log stream the engine parameter is used to locate and load the log handler. All of the other configuration properties are passed to the log stream’s constructor as an array.

App::uses('BaseLog', 'Log/Engine');

class DatabaseLog extends BaseLog {
    public function __construct($options = array()) {
        // ...

    public function write($type, $message) {
        // write to the database.

While CakePHP has no requirements for Log streams other than that they must implement a write method, extending the BaseLog class has a few benefits:

  • It automatically handles the scope and type argument casting.

  • It implements the config() method which is required to make scoped logging work.

Each logger’s write method must take two parameters: $type, $message (in that order). $type is the string type of the logged message; core values are error, warning, info and debug. Additionally you can define your own types by using them when you call CakeLog::write.

New in version 2.4.

As of 2.4 FileLog engine takes a few new options:

  • size Used to implement basic log file rotation. If log file size reaches the specified size, the existing file is renamed by appending timestamp to filename and a new log file is created. Can be integer bytes value or human readable string values like ‘10MB’, ‘100KB’ etc. Defaults to 10MB. Setting size to false will disable the rotate option below.

  • rotate Log files are rotated a specified number of times before being removed. If the value is 0, old versions are removed rather than rotated. Defaults to 10.

  • mask Set the file permissions for created files. If left empty the default permissions are used.


Prior to 2.4 you had to include the suffix Log in your configuration (LoggingPack.DatabaseLog). This is not necessary anymore. If you have been using a Log engine like `DatabaseLogger that does not follow the convention to use a suffix Log for your class name, you have to adjust your class name to DatabaseLog. You should also avoid class names like SomeLogLog, which includes the suffix twice at the end.


Always configure loggers in app/Config/bootstrap.php Trying to use Application or plugin loggers in core.php will cause issues, as application paths are not yet configured.

Also new in 2.4: In debug mode missing directories will now be automatically created to avoid unnecessary errors thrown when using the FileEngine.

Error and Exception logging

Errors and Exceptions can also be logged by configuring the corresponding values in your core.php file. Errors will be displayed when debug > 0 and logged when debug == 0. Set Exception.log to true to log uncaught exceptions. See Configuration for more information.

Interacting with log streams

You can introspect the configured streams with CakeLog::configured(). The return value of configured() is an array of all the currently configured streams. You can remove streams using CakeLog::drop(). Once a log stream has been dropped, it will no longer receive messages.

Using the default FileLog class

While CakeLog can be configured to write to a number of user configured logging adapters, it also comes with a default logging configuration. The default logging configuration will be used any time there are no other logging adapters configured. Once a logging adapter has been configured, you will need to also configure FileLog if you want file logging to continue.

As its name implies, FileLog writes log messages to files. The type of log message being written determines the name of the file the message is stored in. If a type is not supplied, LOG_ERROR is used, which writes to the error log. The default log location is app/tmp/logs/$type.log:

// Executing this inside a CakePHP class
$this->log("Something didn't work!");

// Results in this being appended to app/tmp/logs/error.log
// 2007-11-02 10:22:02 Error: Something didn't work!

You can specify a custom log name using the first parameter. The default built-in FileLog class will treat this log name as the file you wish to write logs to:

// called statically
CakeLog::write('activity', 'A special message for activity logging');

// Results in this being appended to app/tmp/logs/activity.log (rather than error.log)
// 2007-11-02 10:22:02 Activity: A special message for activity logging

The configured directory must be writable by the web server user in order for logging to work correctly.

You can configure additional/alternate FileLog locations using CakeLog::config(). FileLog accepts a path which allows for custom paths to be used:

CakeLog::config('custom_path', array(
    'engine' => 'File',
    'path' => '/path/to/custom/place/'

Logging to Syslog

New in version 2.4.

In production environments it is highly recommended that you setup your system to use syslog instead of the files logger. This will perform much better as all writes will be done in a (almost) non-blocking fashion. Your operating system logger can be configured separately to rotate files, pre-process writes or use a completely different storage for your logs.

Using syslog is pretty much like using the default FileLog engine; you just need to specify Syslog as the engine to be used for logging. The following configuration snippet will replace the default logger with syslog. This should be done in the bootstrap.php file:

CakeLog::config('default', array(
    'engine' => 'Syslog'

The configuration array accepted for the Syslog logging engine understands the following keys:

  • format: A sprintf template string with two placeholders; the first one for the error type, and the second for the message itself. This key is useful to add additional information about the server or process in the logged message. For example: %s - Web Server 1 - %s will look like error - Web Server 1 - An error occurred in this request after replacing the placeholders.

  • prefix: An string that will be prefixed to every logged message.

  • flag: An integer flag to be used for opening the connection to the logger. By default LOG_ODELAY will be used. See openlog documentation for more options

  • facility: The logging slot to use in syslog. By default LOG_USER is used. See syslog documentation for more options

Writing to logs

Writing to the log files can be done in 2 different ways. The first is to use the static CakeLog::write() method:

CakeLog::write('debug', 'Something did not work');

The second is to use the log() shortcut function available on any class that extends Object. Calling log() will internally call CakeLog::write():

// Executing this inside a CakePHP class:
$this->log("Something did not work!", 'debug');

All configured log streams are sequentially written to each time CakeLog::write() is called.

Changed in version 2.5.

CakeLog does not auto-configure itself anymore. As a result, log files will not be auto-created anymore if no stream is listening. Make sure you have at least one default stream set up if you want to listen to all types and levels. Usually, you can just set the core FileLog class to output into app/tmp/logs/:

CakeLog::config('default', array(
    'engine' => 'File'

Logging Scopes

New in version 2.2.

Often times you’ll want to configure different logging behavior for different subsystems or parts of your application. Take for example an e-commerce shop; You’ll probably want to handle logging for orders and payments differently than you do other less critical logs.

CakePHP exposes this concept as logging scopes. When log messages are written you can include a scope name. If there is a configured logger for that scope, the log messages will be directed to those loggers. If a log message is written to an unknown scope, loggers that handle that level of message will log the message. For example:

// Configure tmp/logs/shop.log to receive the two configured types (log levels), but only
// those with `orders` and `payments` as scope
CakeLog::config('shop', array(
    'engine' => 'FileLog',
    'types' => array('warning', 'error'),
    'scopes' => array('orders', 'payments'),
    'file' => 'shop.log',

// Configure tmp/logs/payments.log to receive the two configured types, but only
// those with `payments` as scope
CakeLog::config('payments', array(
    'engine' => 'SyslogLog',
    'types' => array('info', 'error', 'warning'),
    'scopes' => array('payments')

CakeLog::warning('This gets written only to shops stream', 'orders');
CakeLog::warning('This gets written to both shops and payments streams', 'payments');
CakeLog::warning('This gets written to both shops and payments streams', 'unknown');

In order for scopes to work, you must do a few things:

  1. Define the accepted types on loggers that use scopes.

  2. Loggers using scopes must implement a config() method. Extending the BaseLog class is the easiest way to get a compatible method.

CakeLog API

class CakeLog

A simple class for writing to logs.

static CakeLog::config($name, $config)
  • $name (string) – Name for the logger being connected, used to drop a logger later on.

  • $config (array) – Array of configuration information and constructor arguments for the logger.

Connect a new logger to CakeLog. Each connected logger receives all log messages each time a log message is written.

static CakeLog::configured

An array of configured loggers.

Get the names of the configured loggers.

static CakeLog::drop($name)
  • $name (string) – Name of the logger you wish to no longer receive messages.

static CakeLog::write($level, $message, $scope = array())

Write a message into all the configured loggers. $level indicates the level of log message being created. $message is the message of the log entry being written to.

Changed in version 2.2: $scope was added

New in version 2.2: Log levels and scopes

static CakeLog::levels

Call this method without arguments, eg: CakeLog::levels() to obtain current level configuration.

To append the additional levels ‘user0’ and ‘user1’ to the default log levels use:

CakeLog::levels(array('user0', 'user1'));
// or
CakeLog::levels(array('user0', 'user1'), true);

Calling CakeLog::levels() will result in:

    0 => 'emergency',
    1 => 'alert',
    // ...
    8 => 'user0',
    9 => 'user1',

To set/replace an existing configuration, pass an array with the second argument set to false:

CakeLog::levels(array('user0', 'user1'), false);

Calling CakeLog::levels() will result in:

    0 => 'user0',
    1 => 'user1',
static CakeLog::defaultLevels

An array of the default log levels values.

Resets log levels to their original values:

    'emergency' => LOG_EMERG,
    'alert'     => LOG_ALERT,
    'critical'  => LOG_CRIT,
    'error'     => LOG_ERR,
    'warning'   => LOG_WARNING,
    'notice'    => LOG_NOTICE,
    'info'      => LOG_INFO,
    'debug'     => LOG_DEBUG,
static CakeLog::enabled($streamName)


Checks whether $streamName has been enabled.

static CakeLog::enable($streamName)


Enable the stream $streamName.

static CakeLog::disable($streamName)


Disable the stream $streamName.

static CakeLog::stream($streamName)

Instance of BaseLog or false if not found.

Gets $streamName from the active streams.

Convenience methods

New in version 2.2.

The following convenience methods were added to log $message with the appropriate log level.

static CakeLog::emergency($message, $scope = array())
static CakeLog::alert($message, $scope = array())
static CakeLog::critical($message, $scope = array())
static CakeLog::error($message, $scope = array())
static CakeLog::warning($message, $scope = array())
static CakeLog::notice($message, $scope = array())
static CakeLog::info($message, $scope = array())
static CakeLog::debug($message, $scope = array())