- System Shutdown
- User Logon & Logoff
- Console Lock & Unlock
- Screen Saver start & stop
- Monitor Power on & off
- Fast User Switch
There is also a small GUI application that allows the user to view the log, append comments to it, edit it, and change the settings.
SimpleActivityLogger is most useful for people who need to track their computer usage during the course of a day for billing purposes. For example, if they are in the habit of locking their PC when not using it (a good policy!), then SimpleActivityLogger logging lock and unlock, and also logging screen saver start and stop, gives a good indication of when the computer was being used.
Furthermore, if they use different user accounts for different tasks, then this can also be logged.
Together, this information can give a user a good indication of when they were using their computer and for what.
It is also useful for tracking the usage of a shared computer. However, it is not a covert ‘spy’ program and makes no attempt to disguise itself.
SimpleActivityLogger is not a snooping program. It is not intended to hide, or spy on a user, or to be in any way covert. If you’re looking for a program to secretly spy on users then look elsewhere.
It’s also not especially secure; events are logged to a plain text file in the public application data folder, which means the file can be read (and edited) by any user.
The reason for this is that it was designed for use in a single user environment, where the user simply wants to log the supported events as an aide-mémoire for computer usage.
Logging is achieved using a Windows Service called ‘SimpleActivityLogger’. If you stop or disable this service, then logging will be disabled.
SimpleActivityLogger v2.x is compatible with Windows XP onwards, and Windows Server 2003 onwards.
It has been explicitly tested with Windows XP (32-bit), Windows 7, and Windows 10, but should work with all compatible versions of Windows.
You will require local administrator privileges to install SimpleActivityLogger but thereafter it will work fine with a Limited User account.
- We have noticed that the System Locale datetime format for the USA is not fixed width, unlike the UK one, which means that users in the US locale will find that the log file might not be nicely formatted with the text following the timestamp all aligned. We’ve done our best by adding a tab character after the timestamp. It might be possible to improve this by using the ‘Custom timestamp formatting’ feature.
- We have observed that upon system startup you might sometimes see a service start event but not a logon event. We believe this is a race condition between the user logging in and Windows starting the SimpleActivityLogger service. In other words, sometimes the user logs on before the service has started and so the logon event is not captured. This seems to mainly affect only Windows XP.
- When viewing the log, the entire contents of the log file is read into memory. For excessively large files, on systems with insufficient RAM, this could potentially be an issue. The workaround is to edit the log file and remove old entries.
In a future version we might add automatic log file rotation.
- Under Windows 8 and Windows 10, a shutdown event might not be recorded by SimpleActivityLogger when the PC is shut down (as opposed to being rebooted). However, you will see a user logoff event logged (if logging is enabled for these).
This happens if “fast startup” (Windows 10) or “hybrid sleep” (Windows 8) is enabled, since the PC isn’t actually shut down and so there is legitimately no shutdown event to record. Disabling this feature fixes this, at the expense of slower startup times.
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You can view the documentation online here.