Smart and Efficient Ways to Track Computer Usage!

  • November 10, 2021
  • by Kate Borucka
  • No comments

Computer usage tracker can be an unusually helpful system. It can give you a deep insight into your working hours and show how you spend your time so you can better organize work.

Nowadays, computer monitoring software becomes more and more popular. Some people love it, others hate it. The topic of employee computer monitoring software evokes privacy concerns. Especially in recent years, after the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become a sensitive subject.

When many employers want to track employee activity to ensure people are doing their job, employees question the credibility of computer usage tracking software of any form.

But one of the reasons companies or individuals decide to implement it is to keep track of work and help employees improve productivity.

So what’s up with employee monitoring? Is it legal? And how to ensure privacy while using PC usage tracker? Here’s your ultimate guide!

CONTENTS

Why Implement Computer Usage Monitoring Software?

Some people find employee monitoring software intrusive and consider it as a means of spying on their activities. But when you choose the right tool and use it properly, it can bring many benefits.

And there is one big reason to use computer monitoring software—it improves employee productivity. Here’s why it’s worth using a PC usage tracker:

  • You can view, analyze, and understand how you or your employees work. See how you’re spending your time, what you’re wasting it on, and what are the main distractions.
  • Monitoring features help to categorize and segregate all your activities so you can organize work, tasks, and projects.
  • Monitoring tools are a source of valuable data on the company’s performance, employee engagement, but are also proof of work for stakeholders and clients as they can generate detailed reports.
  • It’s easier to spot suspicious activity and insider threats.

Technology is there to help you, so with the use of the right program, your company can grow and employees can be more efficient.

How Deep Can You Go with Monitoring Tools?

Is this legal? – it’s the first question that comes to mind when thinking about monitoring computers or work monitoring software. The Employee Monitoring and Workplace Privacy Law states that employee monitoring is legal. It may even be required for certain sectors and businesses, or under the USA Patriot Act.

It’s the basis for the safe functioning of every business—it helps to protect trade secrets, confidential information, and detect breaches, such as sexual harassment, data breaches, or frauds and thefts. And let’s not forget that employees’ safety is also at stake.

Different laws are in force in different countries so it’s worth checking your country’s rules.

So if you’re using computer monitoring software privately, you don’t have to worry. However, if you’re an employer (or an employee who tr), you should pay attention to three aspects.

1. Define what to monitor

When you track employees’ work, you have to be careful. If you breach their privacy and security, it may have legal consequences for you and your organization.

So the first step is to inform your employees or team that their work will be monitored. And the purpose of it is not to spy on them but to enhance their work and boost productivity. Then, discuss with all people what exactly you want to track. Do you want to keep track of tasks, projects, tools, websites, entire screens, or just record work hours for payroll processing?

You should decide together with your employees so you can all improve work and make the best use of the tool.

lego army

2. Choose the right software

Without the right software to track computer usage, you won’t achieve the desired outcome. There are plenty of options to choose from but not all will correspond to your business model, style of work, or other important factors.

Also, make sure it integrates with other tools. That way you’ll be able to flexibly administer your work and monitor activity across multiple devices.

3. Talk to your employees

The process of implementing employee monitoring software in the company is often misunderstood. That’s why it’s essential for managers to talk to team members and explain the reason behind their decision.

Mutual trust and respect are the core fundamentals of effective collaboration in the workplace. Monitoring employee activity should be done in a smart way so it doesn’t have a negative impact on your workforce. After all, it’s all about improving work, not spying on your people.

How to Track a Computer?

Employee monitoring tools can have many forms. You can pick software to monitor work in a stealth mode to detect suspicious activity in your organization. Or you can go for a laptop usage tracker to help improve employee performance.

As for tracking tools, monitoring features vary among apps. You can track computer in several ways:

  • You can use system power troubleshooter, local files, or similar applications for checking event sources and user activity logs on a computer
  • Dedicated employee monitoring apps—these allow you to capture screenshots, monitor network within your company, log keystrokes and mouse movements
  • Time tracking software with activity logs for accurate timesheet data and tracking billable time
  • Some tools are aimed specifically at remote workers and gather important data for users to improve collaboration and workflow

Tracking user activity can be done in a private way without disclosing personal information. The main objective is ensuring the end-users don’t feel threatened or intimidated by the company’s practices.

What Is The Best Monitoring Software?

There are plenty of tools for computer monitoring. You can use them for your personal (or work needs) or implement in your organization so people can find out how they perform and boost their productivity.

Here are some of the best employee monitoring software.

1. Your computer

Best for: local data access

Seems odd? Not at all! By far it’s the easiest way of monitoring a computer. This one, however, is best if you want to check which websites people visited while working on your computer.

This solution works best for several users of one computer or those who need rich data on the use of system and each program. All you have to do is to access the local files on your computer with internet history, data on programs use, and users.

You can find the full, detailed description by following this link.

2. TimeCamp

Best for: tracking time and billable hours and improving productivity

TimeCamp is a free time tracking tool for unlimited users. There are three ways for TimeCamp to help your team.

It boosts efficiency by monitoring productive and non-productive activities, including app usage, websites visited, and helps to determine and eliminate distractions that take attention away.

You and employees become accountable—people know, how, and when they work, can optimize and automate processes, and improve workflow.

And finally, TimeCamp makes your business profitable by helping you to keep track of budget with billable and non-billable hours tracking, and budgeting.

Everything happens in real-time so you can take action when needed. Additionally, it’s available for mobile devices, as a web and desktop app for Windows PC, macOS, and Linux so it’s suitable for those who work from home and need to remotely monitor the company’s performance. (TimeCamp offers screen capture feature on demand)

Pricing: TimeCamp offers a free plan is available for unlimited users, unlimited projects and tasks. Basic – $7 user per month, Pro – $10 user per month, Enterprise with custom pricing. A 14-day free trial is available.

Become productive, accountable, and profitable.

Sign up for TimeCamp for free!

 

3. Teramind

Best for: insider threat prevention

teramind

Teramind effectively analyzes your employees’ activities and behaviors when they work on a computer. It tracks user activity and detects possible threats. Once the software identifies suspected behavior, it sends you an instant e-mail.

It’s an intelligent tool that can lock out a user, deny access or blur the image so that the thief cannot get access to the data. If you suspect someone at your company is stealing the confidential information, you should immediately equip your organization with Teramind.

Pricing: $10 per month/user. Starting price is for a single user on Teramind Starter (Cloud). Minimum 5 users.

4. ActivTrak

Best for: rich analytics for finding bottlenecks

activtrack

ActivTrak works similarly to Teramind. Additionally, it monitors employees’ productivity.

It’s equipped with the feature of screenshots, alarms, tracking people’s activity, blocking websites, and many more. It has all you need to safely and privately monitor your employees and eliminate the risks of breaking the company’s rules. ActivTrak gathers detailed data on employee work so you can understand people’s work styles and improve team collaboration.

Additionally, the tool lets your team analyze their productivity to find bottlenecks in their work. You can install it on many computers in less than a few minutes.

However, the tool may be too intrusive for users who value personal privacy.

Pricing: free for up to 3 users. Pricing starts at $9 user/month (billed annually).

5. Time Doctor

Best for: simple employee monitoring

Desktop time tracker Time Doctor

Time Doctor is a time tracking tool dedicated to teams who want to improve productivity. The software has an intuitive user interface and it’s easy to install.

This employee monitoring software tracks time people spend on projects and tasks, and creates activity reports with screenshots. Time reports show metrics so you can view how your staff is performing. You can see the exact time with all the data on how people work.

Time Doctor gathers information on how every user spends time working at a computer, including time off, breaks different tasks, projects, and activities.

👉 See the comparison between Time Doctor & TimeCamp

Pricing: starts at $7 / month with limited features.

6. Windows Event Viewer

Best for: monitoring Windows logs and all computer activities

Windows Event Viewer - computer usage tracker

Windows Event Viewer is a dedicated system app for Windows users. You can find it on every Windows computer. You can find it either by clicking on the Windows key and searching it in apps or access it in local files (in Administrative Tools).

With the tool, you can check your user activity on a daily basis as it shows Windows logs, application usage, file names, and time spent on all programs.

It’s an activity tracking system best for users such as developers who need an extremely detailed application monitoring solution with access to rich data on activity.

Windows Event Viewer is a good power troubleshooter that lets you find out power states of your computer, errors, bugs, network issues, and all the data on Windows computer state.

Pricing: Event Viewer is a free, built-in app.

7. DeskTime

Best for: employee attendance tracking with PC usage monitoring

DeskTime is an employee attendance tracker rich in features that will make it easy to track the attendance of your employees, plan their work, and organize projects.

DeskTime can be used in an offline mode and on many computers to later synchronize with the cloud. You can easily access the app from any place to check on your team’s progress, see statistics on company and employees’ performance on the productivity bar with, and other information on real-time activities, and attendance statuses.

Additionally, DeskTime has an absence calendar to keep track of vacation hours, sick leave, and other free days. You can also create an employee absence schedule to quickly calculate payroll, and better allocate work.

Pricing: free for one user. Pricing starts at $7 per user/month and depends on the number of users.

8. Kiwi Application Monitor

Best for: Windows user and network monitoring

Kiwi application monitor - computer usage tracker

Kiwi Application Monitor is a small program for Windows computers. It’s freeware software that lets you monitor your applications, processes, Windows and user activity. It’s a minimalistic app that you can minimize to the system tray and always have it at hand.

Kiwi allows you to track windows user activity and provides information as activity reports with statistics on monitored applications such as start, end and total run time, peak memory usage, or current memory usage.

With advanced rules you can create your set of conditions, actions, and alerts. There’s 100 elements to choose from and define what happens when certain circumstances occur. You can insert as many conditions and sub-conditions as you need and as many actions as you want to adjust Kiwi to your needs.

You can use the app to monitor internet activity and control many Kiwis on the network using Kiwi Admin for many computers.

Pricing: Kiwi is a free with limited features. The Pro version is $37 for a one-time purchase.

9. ActivityWatch

Best for: tracking personal activity on a computer

ActivityWatch computer usage tracker

ActivityWatch is an open-source, privacy-first, cross-platform tool that lets you track productivity when using your computer.

This tool records relevant information about what you do and what happens on your computer. It collects and stores your data locally.

You can use it to improve personal or organizational productivity when using a computer, or to understand how you and employees work. ActivityWatch also helps to track how much time you spend on different activities, manage bad screen habits, keep a log of computer activities, or learn how you use your device.

Pricing: ActivityWatch is a free software.

10. Hubstaff

Best for: monitoring remote workforce

hubstaff screen

Hubstaff is a time tracking software that lets teams monitor PC usage with the desktop app available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. It displays a window in which you have access to your tasks and projects. There, you can create new entries and manage those already existing.

The app synchronizes with the cloud and shows reports on your work based on the activity registered by the app, productivity data, and the location of every employee.

Hubstaff time tracker collects all data on your activities and how much time you spent on them — appsURLs, optional screenshots with activity rates. Everything happens in real-time.

The software is especially useful in remote team administration.

Pricing: free plan for 1 user with limited features. Basic – $7 per user per month for at least 2 users. Premium – $10 per user per month. And Enterprise – $20 per user per month.

How Do You Track Your Computer Activities?

What is your method and tools for tracking computer usage? Or you maybe you don’t to do that at all? Try to implement the above tips to your work and your productivity will skyrocket! It’s always a great idea to mix tools, use integrations, different practices and methodologies.

Remember, we do not encourage you to spy on your employees! It’s best to make employee monitoring tools an integral part of your business structure and strategy as a means of improving work. Talk to your workforce and always be honest.

Kate Borucka

Kate is a freelance translator, copywriter, and a content writer specializing in time tracking software, time management, and productivity. When not researching new software, she's reading books, or spending time outdoors.

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