By Lori Fairbanks, business.com Writer | Updated Jun 05, 2020
Generally, the most comprehensive employee monitoring software is expensive, and the free software is extremely limited (or worse, computer viruses.) ActivTrak offers reliable employee monitoring that is free of charge for up to three users and includes all the core features we looked for in our review. It can be used at no cost forever, but if your business scales up or you decide you want access to the more advanced features, ActivTrak also has an inexpensive paid version as well. Not only is ActivTrak free, but it is easy to install, set up and learn. From installing agents on monitored devices to navigating the user interface, you can get up and running with ActivTrak in no time.
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We reviewed ActivTrak's free version, but there is also an advanced plan for growing companies, as well as several add-ons to choose from. Here's a look at the key differences between each plan and the pricing of the advanced plan.
- Free: ActivTrak's free version has no cost for up to three users in perpetuity. It works across Windows and Mac devices, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. The free version includes 3GB of storage, an analytics dashboard for reviewing data insights, website blocking, real-time reporting and scheduled monitoring. The free edition of ActivTrak also allows you to take a single screenshot of a user's monitor per activity, as well as review group reports and export certain datasets to Microsoft Excel.
- Advanced: ActivTrak's Advanced plan allows you to monitor more devices and unlocks advanced features beyond the core tools available with the free version. At $7.20 per user per month, the advanced plan also includes unlimited storage space, automatic detection of USB devices, file transfer monitoring, user risk scoring, real-time screenshots and a remote agent installer.
- Add-on features: Add-on features can be purchased with each plan on annual contracts. These add-ons include video playback of user activity, screenshot flagging for prohibited material, screenshot redaction for protecting sensitive information, and raw data access.
ActivTrak will also tailor a custom plan to suit your needs if neither the free version nor the advanced version is suitable. To find out more about custom plans, contact a company representative to discuss the scope of services and pricing.
ActivTrak blends activity monitoring features with productivity tools and combines the data into easily digestible reports. While the free version lacks advanced features like file transfer monitoring or keystroke logging, it maintains the core features necessary to effectively keep tabs on employees.
- Productivity tracker: Based on your pre-configured settings, ActivTrak can designate certain websites or applications as "productive" or "unproductive." The productivity tracker then measures the amount of time users spend on productive and unproductive tasks. At a glance, the productivity tracker shows you how much time is being wasted across your team.
- Real-time monitoring feed: Prominently displayed on the central dashboard is a user activity feed, which shows a real-time stream of actions users are taking. For example, if a user opens a new application, the feed will display which application the user opened at what time. If moments later another user accesses a website, that will appear at the top of the feed. The real-time monitoring feed provides a constant bird's eye view of team activity.
- Application monitoring: ActivTrak breaks down which applications your users are accessing most frequently. On the dashboard, this data appears in a pie chart. If users are accessing unproductive or prohibited applications, they will appear in this report. From there, a simple activity search will yield the user or users engaged in the problematic activity, making it easy to snuff out unwanted behavior.
- Screenshots: With the free version of ActivTrak, you are limited to taking one screenshot per window you open. If you catch a user engaged in prohibited or problematic activity, a screenshot could serve as evidence to use when confronting or disciplining the employee.
- Website blocking: ActivTrak can directly block users from accessing certain websites. These are selected in the settings tab.
ActivTrak offers several detailed reports that allow you to drill down into the data captured by the agents. These reports include data like "top websites accessed" or "top applications accessed." Each report can be used to track productivity metrics for specific users, and they can also help you understand productivity across the entire organization. Productivity can be tracked by day, week, month or year, allowing you to build a composite picture of just how much time is being wasted. The user activity log offers a look into every action by a single user over a period of time and allows you to view any screenshots captured during their sessions. All data in reports is available for export.
Ease of Use
One of ActivTrak's standout aspects is its ease of use and intuitive user interface. The remote installer makes downloading a monitoring agent onto a new computer a simple, one-step process. Once installed, the agent runs stealthily in the background, so the user won't even know they are being monitored. As soon as the agent is active, it begins delivering data to the administrator's dashboard.
The main screen is a central dashboard that displays real-time thumbnails of monitored screens. To look closer at a specific user, an admin needs merely click the thumbnail of the user's screen. Admins can also take real-time screenshots of a user's screen by clicking the camera icon. On the left side of the screen are tabs that provide access to the activity monitoring tools, the productivity suite and admin settings. These tabs are easy to navigate, and the label of each tab is displayed when you mouse over it.
ActivTrak's customization tools are limited; admins cannot alter the widgets on the dashboard. This was a common customization feature of other employee monitoring software solutions in our review. However, admins can tailor the settings that define how ActivTrak captures data. Further, admins can mark certain websites and applications as productive and unproductive, and ActivTrak will create a queue of unlabeled websites and applications based on user activity that admins can review and categorize as needed. Admins can group content by different categories like "social media" or "shopping," and they can create or delete custom categories on the fly.
Admins can also set alerts and notifications related to prohibited activity, both to notify employees and capture evidence. For example, you can set the software to take a screenshot anytime a certain keyword is entered, helping you to gather evidence of inappropriate usage. Or, you can set an alert to warn employees that their activity is prohibited, such as scrolling endlessly on social media while on the clock.
ActivTrack Customer Support
ActivTrak has one of the most robust customer support departments we encountered, maintaining phone and email support, as well as a dedicated billing team. With the advanced plan, you'll also have access to a dedicated account manager who can act as your liaison with the company. In addition to the customer and tech support teams, you also have access to self-guided materials like FAQs, case studies, how-to videos and more.
ActivTrak's biggest limitation is that the free version is only available for up to three users. If you want to monitor more devices, you'll have to upgrade to the paid version. That makes ActivTrak's free edition less than scalable; however, the paid version is competitively priced at $7.20 per user per month, so it shouldn't represent too steep a cost.
The other major drawback we noted with ActivTrak is that keystroke logging is completely absent from both the free and paid versions of the software. Keystroke logging tracks what your users are typing across all web browsers and applications, along with a date and timestamp, and it can be an incredibly useful window into user activity. However, ActivTrak does track mouse movements and keyboard activity.
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