;;;What I need to do is track how many times a user logs into the website
I would place a one to many relationship between your 'users' table and a EG 'userHits' table. Its realy quiet simple. Every time a user logs in insert a record (userID, date, time, etc) into the 'userHits' table
;;;writing to a text file or creating a separate d/b to collect the information
Why would you want a seperate DB. You just need a new table as described above.
sols said 'you could use a counter in your db as you mentioned '
Yes you could however creating another table using a one to many relationship enables you to capture all sorts og information. Incrimenting a counter in the users table limits you for obvious reasons.
Wind is your friend