Home Spy Apps The Best Windows Monitoring Software for Employee Tracking in 2024
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The best Windows monitoring software collects data about what your employees are doing on their PCs so you can analyze their productivity, compliance, and work patterns.

It can help you obtain an objective and quantifiable picture of employee performance. Of course, security is another reason why employee monitoring software is gaining in popularity.

In short, with Windows monitoring software, you can detect inappropriate device behavior or worrying activity patterns on time.

In this guide, we’ll explore the top Windows monitoring software for employee tracking based on the results of our hands-on tests.

In This Guide

The Best Windows Employee Monitoring Software at a Glance

  1. FlexiSPY — Best overall Windows PC monitoring software in 2024
  2. Hoverwatch — Ideal for monitoring multiple devices at once
  3. Spyera — Top choice for monitoring field workers
  4. iKeyMonitor — Best for self-hosted Windows monitoring
  5. Hubstaff — Best for privacy-conscious companies
  6. ActivTrak — Best Windows monitoring software for large enterprises
  7. Controlio — Top choice to block user activity and enforce rules
  8. Teramind — Ideal for data security

Pros and Cons of Employee Tracking

Having a window into real-time employee activity can massively improve your business outcomes. You can detect inefficiency and find your top performers.

On the other hand, nonprofits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) have pointed out privacy issues. So, weigh these pros and cons when deciding whether you should use Windows employee monitoring software:

Pros

  • Flag insider threats and security issues
  • Instill greater accountability among employees
  • Show proof of compliance with overtime laws
  • Reward your top performers based on concrete data

Cons

  • Difficult to comply with data collection and privacy laws
  • Employees may feel like you don’t trust them

How Does Employee Monitoring Software Work?

Employee monitoring software collects data from an employee’s device – like keystrokes, website history, app usage, idle time, and messages – and relays it to the employer dashboard for admins to access remotely.

In physical workplaces like a factory floor, CCTV cameras can monitor employee activity to ensure safety, productivity, and compliance. However, tracking employees is harder when most are working on computers or remotely.

That’s why employee monitoring software for Windows (and Mac) PCs has gained traction. In fact, research shows that 78% of employers track employees’ online activity, collecting data that also informs performance reviews.

Here’s how it works:

  1. They’re installed on company-owned devices
  2. The apps collect data on the employee’s device usage (app activity, keystrokes, email, browsing history, etc.); some can even activate the webcam to capture the employee’s surroundings.
  3. All the information is stored in logs on the cloud, where the employer can easily access it.

It’s also possible to set up alerts so you get an email or notification when an employee is typing something inappropriate, accessing prohibited apps, or sharing sensitive files.

72% of computers worldwide use Windows. If your workplace is among them, a Windows monitoring tool will help you gain visibility into what your employees are doing.

Does Windows Have Built-in Monitoring Software?

No, Windows doesn’t have built-in monitoring software. Companies who want to monitor their employees’ activity on Windows will need to use third-party software like FlexiSpy or Hoverwatch.

That said, Microsoft offers two native solutions to monitor Windows systems remotely. These are:

Microsoft Network Monitor 3.4Remote Desktop

This is a legacy tool used to monitor network traffic coming to and from Windows systems up to Windows 10.

It’s still available for download (although no longer in development) and gives you complete visibility into traffic source and destination.

Using this built-in option, you can configure Windows systems to be accessed from afar. It’s compatible with Windows 10 and 11 Pro.

You can turn on Remote Desktop from system settings by opening the settings on your employee’s PC.

Bear in mind that none of these are complete employee tracking solutions. You won’t get time tracking, keylogging, browser monitoring, or the ability to block apps and websites.

You can only use them occasionally to troubleshoot employee PCs and network connections. In comparison, third-party Windows monitoring software is installed on your employee’s desktop in an un-intrusive manner.

It quietly collects activity data so you can ensure your employees are productive and compliant at all times, making it a wiser long-term investment.

The Best Windows Monitoring Tools Reviewed

Windows monitoring software can reveal various aspects of the employee experience, from productivity patterns to disengagement and burnout risk.

We tested the leading Windows monitoring tools hands-on to understand their USPs, pros and cons, and the optimal use cases. Here are our findings:

1. FlexiSPY — Best Overall Windows PC Monitoring Software in 2024

FlexiSPY is a mobile spy app that also doubles as Windows monitoring software. It supports Mac computers in addition to Windows and is backward compatible with Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and 11.

The platform lets you monitor a wide range of employee activities, such as social media messages, email, browser events, and video history.

FlexiSpy Tracking

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Small teams $79/month or $179/year 24-hour trial Both hidden and visible — Remotely control the settings
— Monitor network connections
— Locate the employee’s laptop

You can even track which documents your employees print, the files they transfer, and when they log on/off (indicating their productivity).

Another key USP is that it lets you set custom alerts based on keywords or file activity; this means you don’t need to monitor them 24/7 to know immediately if they’re engaging in objectionable behavior.

Another advantage of using FlexiSPY is the ability to get screenshots on demand. This allows you to obtain a real-time snapshot of employee activity at custom or randomized intervals.

It’s also affordable for most businesses at just $179/employee/year or around $15 a month if you sign up for the annual plan.

Pros

  • The annual plan is very affordable
  • Possible to block employees from uninstalling the app
  • Screenshots of the employee’s desktop screen

Cons

  • One license can monitor only one device
  • Physical access is needed for remote Windows monitoring

2. Hoverwatch — Best for Monitoring Multiple Devices at Once

Hoverwatch is a powerful Windows monitoring software platform that also offers Mac and Android trackers. Thanks to its free trial, it’s also one of the few free spy apps.

Another massive advantage is that a single Hoverwatch license can track up to 25 employee devices, and it lets you record Windows Skype conversations.

So, if your business uses Skype, you can remotely record all calls and conversation threads your employees participate in.

The Hoverwatch monitoring dashboard

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Small to mid-sized businesses $29.95/month or $99.95/year Free Windows keylogger and Android tracker — Automated photos via webcam
— Powerful Skype recorder
— Detailed route monitoring

Another handy feature we found in our tests is the clipboard recorder, which lets you see all copied text. You can also remotely access the PC’s webcam to capture the employee’s surroundings in real-time.

Hoverwatch offers various licenses, too, from a monthly license for a single device to a 25-device annual license that costs $499.95/year.

So, whether you’ve just hired your first employee or have an established small business with 20+ workers, there’s a plan for you. Need more? Read our full Hoverwatch review.

Pros

  • Monitor 25 devices with one license
  • Flexible plans for businesses of every size
  • The free plan lets you test the Windows keylogger

Cons

  • No iOS support
  • Limited visibility into app activity

3. Spyera — Best for Monitoring Field Workers

Spyera offers employee monitoring software for Windows and is among a handful of spy apps that let you monitor tablets, making it perfect for businesses that employ field workers.

As you’d expect, Spyera’s Microsoft monitoring software lets you monitor all app activity, including messages, social media, Skype, and browsers.

Spyera Monitoring

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Businesses with field workers €49 ($53)/month or €189 ($203)/year — Native support for Microsoft Outlook
— USB activity alerts
— Monitor notes on Windows

Even if the employee uses incognito mode, you’ll be able to track every website they visit. In fact, you’ll even get alerted when an employee logs in or out or inserts a USB device into their PC.

All this is useful for ensuring compliance with your business’ device usage rules. It’ll even track bandwidth consumption so that employees don’t overuse the office internet.

You can either buy a dedicated PC monitoring license for €49 ($53)/month or an all-in-one license for €459 ($493) for two years, which includes a smartphone, tablet, and computer license.

We found the dedicated PC plan to be cost-effective, available for €149 (approximately $160) for 24 months. Need more? Read our full Spyera review.

Pros

  • Dedicated plan for tablets
  • You can remotely configure the Windows device
  • Separate screenshots of apps and desktop activity

Cons

  • No free trial or free version
  • Only one PC supported even in the all-in-one plan

4. iKeyMonitor — Best for Self-Hosted Windows Monitoring

iKeyMonitor is one of the few Windows monitoring tools to offer a self-hosted option. You can choose to deploy it on your private servers so that you don’t have to share your data with the cloud.

This is useful for companies working in regulated industries and handling sensitive data – for example, a healthcare clinic. Besides Windows, iKeyMonitor also lets you monitor Android and iOS devices.

The iKeyMonitor interface

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Self-hosted monitoring $10/month Free plan Both hidden and visible — Screenshots triggered by keywords
— Native language keylogger
— Can be deployed using containers

iKeyMonitor allows you to view installed apps, employee communications, and shared media files. It also maintains detailed logs of browser activity and lets you define schedules and time limits for each app.

With iKeyMonitor’s powerful Windows keylogger that supports multiple languages, you can see every letter and word they type, including passwords and any inappropriate words or phrases.

Importantly, iKeyMonitor has a free-forever plan for Android device monitoring that lets you track locations, calls, contacts, calendars, notes, reminders, SMS, and Wi-Fi history.

The Business plan (which supports Windows monitoring) starts at $10/employee/month, but you need to sign up for a minimum of 25 devices.

Pros

  • Self-hosting option; no cloud reliance
  • Logs can be downloaded for future reference
  • Live record the target Windows desktop

Cons

  • Largely Android-centric
  • Free plan not available for Windows monitoring

5. Hubstaff — Best for Privacy Conscious Teams

Hubstaff is a time-tracking and productivity analysis tool for businesses of every size. Its emphasis is less on desktop monitoring and more on whether your team is spending its time productively.

It has several useful add-ons, such as Tasks (e.g., Kanban boards), Insights (E.g., Windows activity benchmarks and analysis of unproductive apps), and Locations (e.g., geo-fencing and routing systems for field staff), to monitor every aspect of your employee’s workday.

Hubstaff employee monitoring software

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Mid-sized to large companies $4.99/month 14-day trial ✅(only frequency mapping) — Add clients and invoices to projects
— In-depth workforce analytics
— 30+ integrations

Hubstaff lets you capture regular screenshots of the employee’s Windows desktop. It also monitors app and website activity and generates detailed productivity reports to help you make data-based decisions.

During our tests, we found it takes a different approach to keyboard and mouse activity tracking, measuring the frequency of a user’s mouse and keyboard strokes instead of directly logging keystrokes.

Also, employees are tracked only during work hours and not when their Windows PC is open before or after work. Impressively, Hubstaff even incorporates an element of gamification.

When employees complete a certain number of hours or cross an activity threshold, they get “achievement badges,” which is a good way to incentivize productivity.

Pros

  • Compliant and respectful of employee data privacy
  • Enterprises get dedicated account reps
  • Built-in project management tools

Cons

  • Entry-level plan limited to 500 screenshots/employee/month
  • No way to block apps or websites

6. ActivTrak — Best for Large Enterprises

ActivTrak offers free employee monitoring software for Windows. To our surprise, the free plan gives you visibility into your employees’ application and website use and working hours.

There are limits on data storage and the number of users you can onboard, but overall, this is a great starting point for startups.

ActivTrak Monitoring

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Large enterprises $10/month Free plan + 14-day trial ✅(only detection, no keystroke logging) — Automated time tracking
— Team productivity reports
— Coaching and personal insights

The ActivTrak app offers dashboards that show in-depth insights into your employee’s activity patterns. You’ll also find natural language insights detailing where your team is most efficient and when resources are underutilized.

The premium plans also include an AI coach. Whenever employee productivity patterns change—for example, spending lots of passive time on their PC—ActivTrak will alert managers so they can tackle disengagement.

ActivTrak monitors mouse and keyboard movements and factors this into productivity reports, too; you can also take screenshots of employees’ Windows desktops.

However, it doesn’t log keystrokes, record video of on-screen activity, or access the device’s webcam.

Pros

  • Advanced customizations for enterprises
  • Generates tips on burnout and disengagement
  • Monitors employees’ AI use at work

Cons

  • Not compatible with Windows 7
  • Slightly expensive; many features are limited to top-tier plans

7. Controlio — Best for Blocking User Activity and Enforcing Rules

Controlio allows organizations to control nearly every detail of an employee’s behavior on their Windows device. You can set precise rules that’ll run whenever there’s the right trigger.

For example, if employees open a social media app, you can block it and display a notification. You can also choose what happens when employees insert a removable drive, visit a specific site, or sit idle for too long.

This makes it possible to detect and prevent inefficiency in the workplace with very little manual effort.

Controlio offers precise rules to restrict Windows activity

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Employee activity rules $7.99/month or $79.90/year 14-day trial Both hidden and visible — Block activity or redirect
— Video screen recordings
— Live stream of employee screens

Controlio’s keylogging feature is equally powerful. Not only can you view what an employee has typed, but you can also watch a short video clip of exactly what was happening on their Windows screen.

This gives you context for every typing activity so you can take appropriate action, from browser searches to emails, messages, notes, and everything in between.

Controlio also provides detailed reports on printing activity, emails, attendance, file access, and browsing sessions. Like iKeyMonitor, it supports self-hosting, either on-premise or in a private cloud.

Pros

  • Includes APIs for custom reports
  • Customizable monitoring for different employee roles
  • Deploy across large teams using Microsoft Active Directory

Cons

  • The knowledge base isn’t user-friendly
  • Need to pay to store data beyond six months

8. Teramind — Best for Ensuring Data Security Through Windows Monitoring

Teramind is a user activity monitoring (UAM) solution that’s suitable for Windows environments. It gives you end-to-end visibility into all remote user activity, including actions taken in custom apps.

Therefore, even if employees are spending time on apps other than the usual social media apps, Teramind will detect it immediately.

You can use Teramind to monitor employees on all sorts of Windows machines, including servers and remote desktop domains, which is beneficial for companies with distributed teams.

Teramind Monitoring

Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
Preventing data loss and breaches $11.25/month 14-day trial Both hidden and visible — Enforceable DLP rules
— Online meeting monitoring
— Remote desktop control

Terarmind’s dashboards offer a breakdown of work-related vs. non-work-related tasks, minute-to-minute trend graphs of activity, and severity reports on employees who might pose a security risk.

In terms of monitoring desktop activity, you can track keystrokes, block specific keywords, and either capture screenshots or record the screen.

You can even use optical character recognition (OCR) to search recorded sessions for specific words or website names. We were also impressed with its built-in privacy guardrails.

For example, it blocks out personal information like the employee’s bank account number during playback. You can redact such content in your records so that you comply with data privacy rules.

Teramind can be hosted on secure clouds like AWS GovCloud and Azure Government to support privacy—and security-sensitive implementations, such as those for public sector companies.

Pros

  • Includes security features like sensitive content redaction
  • Public sector ready via AWS GovCloud & Azure Government
  • Optical character recognition (OCR) to search recorded sessions

Cons

  • No feature parity for Mac computers
  • Expensive, and the entry-level plan is limited

The Best Windows Monitoring Platforms Compared

Choosing the right Windows monitoring platform is a big decision. To simplify the selection process, we’ve compiled the table below to help you compare the market leaders:

Windows Monitoring Software Best For Starting Price Free Version Keylogging Hidden Time Tracking Standout Features
FlexiSPY Small teams $79/month 24-hour trial Both hidden and visible — Remotely control FlexiSPY’s settings
— Monitor network connections
— Locate employee laptops
Hoverwatch SMBs $29.95/month Windows keylogger and Android call and SMS tracker — Automated photos via webcam
— Skype activity recorder
— Detailed route monitoring
Spyera Field workers €49 ($53)/month — Microsoft Outlook support
— USB activity alerts
— Monitor Windows notes
iKeyMonitor Self-hosted monitoring $10/month Free plan Both hidden and visible — Screenshots triggered by keywords
— Native language keylogger
— Deploy using containers
Hubstaff Mid- to- large companies $4.99/month 14-day trial ✅(only frequency mapping) — Add clients+invoices to projects
— Workforce analytics
— 30+ integrations
ActivTrak Large enterprises $10/month Free plan + 14-day trial ✅(only detection, no logging) — Automated time tracking
— Team productivity reports
— Coaching+personal insights
Controlio Employee activity rules $7.99/month 14-day trial Both hidden and visible — Block activity or redirect
— Screen recordings
— Live stream screen activity
Teramind Preventing data loss and breaches $11.25/month 14-day trial Both hidden and visible — Enforceable DLP rules
— Meeting monitoring
— Remote PC control

Are Free Windows Monitoring Platforms Worth it?

If you’re looking for free employee monitoring software for Windows, be prepared for fewer features. A few, like ActivTrak offer free-forever Windows monitoring software, but there are several restrictions.

For example, ActivTrak Free stores employee activity data for only 30 days, compared to 6-24 months in the paid plans. It’s limited to just three users, and customer support isn’t included.

You can’t block non-work-related websites like YouTube and Facebook, and security features like SSO aren’t available either.

Overall, free Windows monitoring platforms require a lot of manual effort – you have to constantly keep an eye on the metrics, as you can’t generate detailed reports or store the data.

Also, as your team expands, you’ll soon outgrow the free software. That’s why it’s better to explore paid alternatives, many of which offer free trials.

It’ll make it easier to support your growing business, stay secure, and access prompt customer support in case anything goes wrong.

Key Features and Factors to Consider When Choosing Windows Monitoring Software

When evaluating Windows monitoring platforms for employee tracking, you’ll want a solution that offers the following:

  • Keylogging — The software should be able to track what employees type. At the very least, it should show typing frequency and flag when they’re idle for extended periods.
  • Time tracking — In some industries, you need to monitor how much time an employee spends on tasks, showing time spent per app, idle time, project-wise time use, and billable hours.
  • Screenshots —You’ll want to see regular screenshots of the employee’s activity. You can check onscreen activity at regular intervals or randomly so that employees aren’t on guard.
  • Analytics — You should be able to see employee activity over time, identify trends, and detect anomalies to make data-driven decisions, reward top performers, or take corrective action.
  • Scalability — You should be able to implement the software across teams or departments with group management features, security protocols, and cloud hosting options.
  • Budget — You’ll want to factor in your budget and the value for money offered by each platform, especially if you need to pay per employee.

How to Use Windows Employee Monitoring Software

To start using Windows monitoring software, visit the vendor’s website, sign up for a plan, install the software on your employee’s computer, and enter the activation details.

We’ve illustrated how this works using FlexiSPY as an example here, but you could repeat these steps across most Windows monitoring tools:

Step 1: Purchase a Monitoring Software Plan

Visit the FlexiSPY website and navigate to the pricing page. Choose your plan duration and click on “Buy Now.”

FlexiSPY plans for Windows

You’ll be redirected to the Payments page, where you can create your Windows monitoring account using your email ID. Installation instructions and activation keys will be sent to this ID.

Step 2: Open Your Email to Access the FlexiSPY Portal

The order confirmation email you get from FlexiSPY will contain your temporary username and password. Open this email on the target computer and click the embedded link to go to FlexiSPY’s portal.

Account activation email from FlexiSPY

Sign in to the portal, which will open your FlexiSPY account.

Step 3: Install FlexiSPY on the Target Device

FlexiSPY offers two installation options – manual and through a purchased service. When you buy FlexiSPY for employee tracking on Windows, you get a free installation service included in the package.

Select your preferred mode of installation and follow the Wizard to complete the process.

FlexiSPY Installation Wizard

Why You Can Trust Our Windows Employee Tracker Recommendations

At TechReport, we’ve been bringing you the most relevant insights from the world of technology since 1999. Our team of writers has years of experience testing and reviewing business software.

All our reviews, guides, and tutorials are 100% human-authored based on our hands-on experiences. For this guide, we tested a variety of solutions to narrow down our list of the best Windows monitoring software available in 2024.

Next, we evaluated the variety of metrics collected and if the tool is intrusive. We also looked at configurability (the degree to which you can customize the setup) and how notifications and alerts are delivered.

Beyond this, we tested how easy each solution is to deploy and also referred to online forums like G2, Capterra, Trustpilot, and Reddit for an unbiased understanding of how others find the platforms.

Our team is well-versed in tracking solutions, having authored several in-depth guides on similar products, and this expertise informs the recommendations shared in this article; you can check out some of them here:

Final Thoughts

To choose the best Windows monitoring software for employee tracking, consider your team’s headcount, the metrics you’re looking to track, and the apps they use.

It’s important to choose compliant and scalable software. All things considered, FlexiSPY tops our list of the best Windows monitoring tools for several reasons.

It’s backward compatible, and it records apps, browsers, files, and printing activity. Also, you can set up keyword-triggered alerts to detect inappropriate behavior in real-time.

Before deploying a monitoring tool, though, check your region’s applicable data privacy laws. You’ll be collecting sensitive information about employee activity, which makes it crucial to pay attention to data security.

FAQs

Does Microsoft Windows have monitoring software?

How can I see what my employees are doing on their Windows computers?

Does Windows have a network monitoring tool?

What is the best computer monitoring software for Windows?

References

The Tech Report - Editorial ProcessOur Editorial Process

The Tech Report editorial policy is centered on providing helpful, accurate content that offers real value to our readers. We only work with experienced writers who have specific knowledge in the topics they cover, including latest developments in technology, online privacy, cryptocurrencies, software, and more. Our editorial policy ensures that each topic is researched and curated by our in-house editors. We maintain rigorous journalistic standards, and every article is 100% written by real authors.

Anwesha Roy Tech Writer

Anwesha Roy Tech Writer

Anwesha is a technology journalist and content marketer based out of India. She started her career in 2016, working for global MSPs on their thought leadership and social media before branching out in 2018 with her own team. 

She writes on technology and its intersections with communication, customer experience, finance, and manufacturing and has her work published across a wide range of journals. In her downtime, she enjoys painting, cooking, and catching up with the latest in media and entertainment.

Anwesha has a Master’s degree in English literature from one of India’s top universities.

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