When your children are on the Internet, are they visiting inappropriate websites? Are your employees productive, or are they wasting company time? If the answers to these questions are important to you, Activtrak will help you track PC usage for any user, and it's free for up to three PCs.
This guide is purely for educational purposes. You should consult with a lawyer about the circumstances under which it is legal to track PC usage and act accordingly.
Create a free ActivTrak account
The first step to track PC usage is to create a free ActivTrak account on http://activtrak.com/.
After we enter our e-mail, we fill in the rest of our information and create a secure password.
Install ActivTrak on the PC we want to track
After this, we are ready to download the ActivTrak Agent, which is the program to monitor PC usage on the remote PC.
We need to either download the .msi file directly on the target PC or copy it on a USB flash.
On a simple home network, the program can't be installed remotely - this is only possible in a Microsoft Active Directory Network.
The installation is easy, and it won't try to install any third-party apps or adware.
Also, there is zero configuration needed. Since we downloaded the agent through our account, it already contains all the information it needs to start tracking and reporting to our ActivTrak dashboard.
To uninstall ActivTrak, we need to run the agent installer again on the remote PC.
Will the user know we track PC usage?
After the installation, there are almost no signs that ActivTrak is installed and running. We won't find any mention of it in Programs and Features...
...or any start menu shortcuts or taskbar icons.
The only signs that ActivTrak is running are two low-memory processes, svctcom.exe and scthost.exe, which don't look out-of-place among the others.
There is also the startup service, named svctcom.
Both of the program's executables are installed in the c:\Windows\SysWOW64 folder.
In other words, even for an experienced user, there are no red flags that there is a program to track PC usage.
Unless a user has memorized all the Windows processes, or Googles each one of them, they will probably never find out that they are being tracked.
ActivTrak is also immune to the best malware scanners, such as Hitman Pro...
...or Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
How to track PC usage with ActivTrak
Once the agent is installed, and the target PC has an active internet connection, in a couple of minutes we will get our first statistics on the dashboard, regarding Websites and Applications.
From the Dashboard, we can see at a glance the top websites the user has visited.
ActivTrack will also show the top apps the user has run.
From the Reports tab, we get a complete breakdown of the user activity.
We can see how much time the users spend on each website...
...and even which particular pages they visited, by title.
The same statistics are available for the application usage.
We can also break down the PC usage to general categories.
Every time the user opens a new page in the browser - creates an "Alarm", according to ActivTrak - the agent snaps a screenshot.
For better tracking, a host of different domains are already characterized as productive and unproductive.
Of course, we can always change which websites are productive and which are not. For example, somebody working as a social media manager is required to spend a significant part of their day on social media.
Will ActivTrak record user passwords?
ActivTrak is an application to track PC usage, not a keylogger. It won't capture user passwords or any text beyond the text shown in the screenshots.
Which are the restrictions of the free version
The free version can track PC usage to up to 3 computers, and there can only be a single user with access to the ActivTrak Dashboard.
This makes it an excellent solution for a family who wants to monitor the children's behavior online, or for a very small company.
For larger corporations, we need to upgrade to one of the paid plans.
For corporations with more than fifty PCs to track, we can contact ActivTrak for a custom quote.
Is it moral to track PC usage?
As you probably know, what is legal isn't necessarily moral, and this can be the case when we monitor PC usage, especially without a user's knowledge or content.
Would you consider using such an application on your family or your employees? Or do you believe that it's an aggressive measure and that there are better ways to manage the respective situations? Leave us a comment.