Data Logging Options For CompactLogix and ControlLogix


NOTE: The newest version of this article is located HERE

Clients often ask me about available data logging options for the CompactLogix and ControlLogix. And as of version 21, the controller itself still has no native data logging feature (maybe in v22?)

While you can create trends in RSLogix5000 which you can later export to CSV file, this solution isn’t automated and not very fool proof. So what can you do? Below are some popular ways to automate data logging with your CompactLogix and ControlLogix:

RSLogix5000 CF Read WriteOption 1: Log to CompactFlash or SD Memory

In version 16 of RSLogix 5000 Rockwell added sample code demonstrating the ability to programmatically create a text file on the removable CompactFlash or SD card which many newer models support. To do this simply review the include sample code, “CF_Read_Write_Example” which can be found in your “RSLogix5000\Projects\Samples\ENU\Rockwell Automation\v16″ directory, or the manual here.

UPDATE: There is a separate sample code download which does log to CSV file – for more information see this Blog Post HERE.


  • Free
  • Log in text file
  • Can format as CSV
  • Plenty of space for large logs


  • Text file saved in a binary format
  • Manual retrieval
  • Not a database solution
  • Possible noise issues with older CompactLogix processors (more info here)

Note: Versions of the above mentioned code prior to version 16 didn’t contain error checking code and are therefore not recommended.


RSLinx SplashOption 2: Log internally to array, retrieve with MS Excel and RSLinx Classic

It’s a fairly easy task to write a routine to log data to an internal array. And it’s also quite easy to setup MS Excel and RSLinx Classic (Single Node for 1 PLC, OEM for many) to read that array (search RSLinx Classic help on EXCEL to find VBA sample code.)

However, trying to automate this process with VBA in MS Excel could be more work and effort than it’s worth.


  • Fairly simple coding in PLC
  • Extracting data to Excel via RSLinx Classic is fairly easy using sample code in RSLinx Classic help files.


  • Writing and testing code to automate could be time consuming
  • Reliability issues
  • Data not in a database.


FTViewME DataStoreOption 3: PanelView Plus CE or 6 (or ViewME Station) DataStore ActiveX

The PanelView Plus CE, PanelView Plus 6, and ViewME Station all have the ability to use a free Rockwell ActiveX called “DataStore.” What this object does is simply log tags you choose to a CSV file which you can later copy to your PC and open in MS Excel.


  • Automated data collection using your PVPlus 6 or CE at no extra charge


  • Manual retrieval
  • Not in a database


XLReporterOption 4: XLReporter from SyTech  

For over a decade I’ve been a fan of this simple yet elegant package which is basically a report generating add-on for MS Excel.

Before using this package, my automated RSView32 datalog reports were VBA queries of my RSView32 collected datalogs which I stored in MS Access. while this old method worked great, it was technically far beyond what most clients wanted to do to generate reports.

But with XLReporter, Ms Excel, and RSLinx Classic you can not only setup data collection into spreadsheets directly, but you also can generate some good looking reports automatically. For more information on XLReporter, check out their website at


  • No code to write
  • Easy to use
  • Great tech support


  • Price starts around $1000 (without RSLinx or MS Excel)
  • Not a database (options to read databases can be purchased)


ViewStudio SplashOption 5: FactoryTalk View Site Edition  

ViewSE’s data logging features are fairly extensive. You can configure unlimited number of datalogs, and run up to 20 simultaneously. Each datalog can have up to 10,000 tags in it (ViewSE has no tag limit,) and they can be logged to either a compressed format (extractable with a free utility,) or better yet to any database which supports ODBC (MS SQL Server Express is included.)


  • Supports 20 datalogs simultaneously logging 10,000 tags each
  • Supports most databases via ODBC
  • Comes with RSLinx Classic and Enterprise (ViewSE versions)


  • Can’t easily view data directly in MS Excel
  • Cost of ViewStudio Development and ViewSE runtime (if not already owned)


FT Historian SE SlideOption 6: FactoryTalk Historian SE

For the most robust data collection I recommend FT Historian SE. This package is built to do one thing well – large volume time series data collection. Based on the world’s largest installed base of data collection software (OSI PI,) Rockwell has included easy to use hooks to setup logging of data from it’s PLC’s, and has also included it’s popular web based trending and reporting package, VantagePoint.


  • World class solution based on OSI PI with space saving data compression
  • Easy connectivity to PLC’s, especially using RSLinx Enterprise or OPC.
  • Excel plugin for easy viewing of collected data
  • Comes with full web based trending and reporting package (VantagePoint)


  • Requires Microsoft Server 2008 R2
  • Cost of lowest tag count roughly $4500


I hope you’ve found this article about my thoughts on how to datalog data from the ControlLogix and CompactLogix helpful. If you have a question or would like to offer your own data logging option please use the “Leave a reply” form below to comment on this article.


Shawn Tierney
Insights In Automation



  1. You left out FactoryTalk Transaction manager, a horrible product that likely won’t run on a 64 bit machine, and OPC Datalogger from Software Toolbox, a great product.

  2. Hey MZ,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I’m a big fan of Transaction Manager as I’ve been using it since version 1.0 and while it can be used to log data I typically recommend it when clients need bi-directional data transfers.

    Haven’t had a chance to use OPC Datalogger myself but do appreciate the recommendation!


  3. Hi Shawn,
    Thanks for a great insight of datalogging possibilities. Could you run Transaction Manager on win7 or is it win server only? Is it possible to do scripting or trigging events or actions ?
    I’ve tried to do tests with some apps from Rockwell, but most of them will run just on server.


  4. Robert,

    Looks like Rockwell has Transaction Manager 10.10 listed as compatible with Windows 7 64 bit.

    Transaction Manager does have the ability to be triggered by a PLC tag, and also has built-in support for expressions.

    Hope this helps,

    Shawn Tierney

    PS – Your local distributor should be able to get you a 30 day trail license and RSTechED hands-on lab if you would like to test Transaction Manager out.

  5. Thanks Shawn for reply,

    I’ve got license for it already and doing some tests now. But still have to figure it out what is the best way to store big datatype structure like ConfigurationArray[100] with its own structure of 25 tags per field. Perhaps will shift to Historian then. Anyway thanks thanks thanks :]


  6. I have just suceeded in saving tag data from the PLC on the SD-Card using your first option. The problem I now have is to figure out how to understand the written file-format? How do I translate the different data-types like BOOL, REAL, INT into meaningful values?


    • Good morning Muzakki,

      I currently don’t have a Logix processor on hand to build an example of this, so I’ll refer to Rockwell’s notes:

      First, a quote from their Tech Note 28539:

      “The data will be written out as binary to the compactflash card. Attempting to open up the file in a text editor will work, but the contents displayed will be the ASCII equivalent of the binary data”

      Also, please check out the included sample files that come with RSLogix 5000 (CF_Read_Write.ACD, CF_Read_Write_Example.ACD) as well as the manual I link to above (Logix-AP007B-EN-P.pdf)

      I’m also going to edit this article to label as a “minus” the binary format of this file.

      Hope this helps,

      Shawn Tierney

  7. is it possible pdf file open in Panelview Plus 1000 or Panelview plus 1250

    • shubham,

      There is a PDF file viewer available from Rockwell free of charge for the PanelView Plus 6, and PanelView Plus CE (aka VersaView CE.) However, there is no documented way to install it on the old standard PanelView Plus. Check out for more info.

      Shawn Tierney

  8. Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for great tips on the data logging.
    I have a question for you. Is there a way to write the data directly into a text file?


    • Hi Hk,

      Yes, using the free sample code I detail in the below article:

      Note: I haven’t acquired my own CompactLogix as of yet, so I haven’t had a chance to spend any time with this code but I can confirm it works.

      Hope this helps,

      Shawn Tierney

      • Thanks for the reply.

        Here is what I have. I have a vendor running his app on a PC. There is a job.ini file (text) in the shared folder that contained the job #. The app will switch the job # if it sees the job # changed in the file. What options I have to log the job # from PLC (using RSLink Classic) and write it to this file on the hard drive?

        • Good morning HK,

          I do not know of any software which logs to an ini file. Most software logs to a database, csv, or xls file.

          If the customer owns no other software, and I had to insert the PLC value into the ini file, I would do one of two things:

          1 – VB and RSLinx Single Node

          Not sure what a copy of VB costs these days, but with VB and RSLinx I can read any tag from the PLC, open any text file, and write my value into it.

          2 – Small View32 or ViewSE runtime

          If you already own the development software for View32 or ViewSE, then I would suggest trying these first as they come with VBA and RSLinx, and the code to get the tag value on change should be simpler, while the code to open and edit the file will likely be the same.

          Final thoughts:

          If I were designing the system from scratch I would tell the customer I can transfer data to and from the PLC and any open Database easily (using Transaction Manager) but using custom text files (like an .ini file) is never a good, easy, or cheep option.

          Well hope that helps!

          Shawn Tierney

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