There are a whole range of reasons you might want to use computer monitoring software. You may have wayward teenage children that are spending too much time on Facebook and not enough time doing homework. Or you have may have an employee who is surfing YouTube as soon as your office door is closed. Maybe you just want to back up everything you do in case of an emergency. Whatever your reason, there will be a computer monitoring application that suits your needs.
Also known as key loggers, the name computer monitoring software has evolved from a time when only keystrokes were needed to be monitored. In the days on MS-DOS there was nothing more than typing, but now a whole range of multimedia activities need to monitored to get a whole picture of what’s been happening on the computer while you were away. Hence the term keylogger has evolved into computer monitoring software.
There are a varied selection of monitoring applications available online, and they all have there own idiosyncrasies and quirks. There are also free and paid applications, and depending on what you need will determine which you should go for. The free keyloggers out there are usually very limited in what they can do, and most of the time they will only record keystrokes. There will also usually be a lack of customer service or support. With that in mind, if your serious about monitoring your computer for any length of time it’s recommended that you use a commercial solution.
The commercial monitoring applications out there range from the brilliant to the appalling, but with a bit of searching you can identify the gold in the rabble. Although features will vary from developer to developer, most will have a standard set of features.
Computer Monitoring Software Features
The first and most obvious being keystroke recording. The software will monitor everything typed, as well as the application or website the typing was done in. This includes passwords & emails etc. This of course means that applications and websites will be logged, usually in separate tabs. Every website visited and application used will be monitored, and each with the time and date of the visit. With these three features you can usually get a pretty comprehensive picture of what’s been going on the monitored machine.
Most monitoring applications will also take screenshots of either the entire screen or the active window. Screenshots will be taken either at certain intervals (which can be set by you. I.e. 60 seconds) or whenever a new webpage or window is opened. Screenshots are usually labeled with the name of the website or application and the date and time it was taken. Other features usually present include document and file monitoring (anything opened, saved, moved, deleted etc. will be logged) and printer and clipboard monitoring.
Monitoring With Stealth
Computer monitoring software is designed to work completely silently. Once download and installed the software will run completely stealthily in the background, meaning anyone using the computer won’t know they are being monitored. Signs of the software will be absent from places like the task manager, start menu and program files directory, making locating the software very hard to do. You’ll be able to bring the software out of hidden mode by entering a secret key combination and password.
Most modern applications also have to ability to email the reports to you remotely. This means you can receive the logs away from the target machine, reducing the need to log back into the software and risking getting caught.