Review of REFOG Personal Monitor
My children are using my computer to do their homework and occasionally play some games. My purpose for Refog Personal Monitor was trying to figure out whether they spend more time doing the former than the latter. I was able to track their activities, and shift their attention away from certain Web sites with cruel Flash games.
Сompatible with: Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista; Mac
What is Refog Personal Monitor?
Nowadays it is hardly possible to find a computer that is accessed by one person only. And it is true not only for office, educational and other similar computers, but also for regular home PCs. Indeed, whole families use them. However, it is acceptable in some cases, for example, when the sweetheart is keen on surfing dubious sites threatening the safety of the computer. And then there are children. Modern schoolchildren are often much more advanced in computers than their parents. And that is why it is rather difficult to control their work with the computer, let alone limiting it. Nevertheless, sometimes it is just necessary. How else can parents find out what exactly their kid was doing with the computer at day: diligently writing a composition, reading funny stories on the Internet or playing games? The same question bothers company bosses. What do employees do when their activity cannot be controlled? Is it really reports and contracts they are busy with? Refog Personal Monitor will help to find answers to all these questions and clear up all doubts.
Refog Personal Monitor is in essence a keyboard spyware program. It intercepts user activities and saves a detailed log to the hard disk, makes screenshots, logs what software is run, etc. That is why antivirus software installed on the computer may show the corresponding warning during its installation. But there is nothing to worry about. Actually, Refog Personal Monitor is not malicious software and it does not steal information. However, just in case you can block this tool from accessing the Internet allowing it only to collect data (by configuring the PC protection system in the corresponding way). This way you can be sure that your passwords and other confidential information is safe and secure.
The main feature of Refog Personal Monitor that catches your eye when you start it for the first time is an extremely simple and very comfortable interface. You do almost everything in one window divided into two parts. The left part contains links for accessing the information collected by the program and all monitoring settings. They are organized in the form of a tree, which provides comfortable access to any section you need. The right part of the window is actually used to view logs and configure the monitoring process. Besides, you can see a detailed hint right there while specifying the settings. This solution seems quite appropriate because it makes it considerably easier to learn how to use the program. And finally it is worth mentioning that Refog Personal Monitor has a multilingual interface: you can manually choose the English, German or Russian language.
Configuring Refog Personal Monitor
Now we can get down to the features of Refog Personal Monitor. Of course, we will begin with the types of monitoring implemented in this program. There are six of them altogether and each of them can be enabled or disabled independently of the others. The first one is logging user keystrokes. Note that the program can log functional keystrokes as well (F1-F12, all kinds of combinations with the Alt and Ctrl keys). Besides, the program logs not only keystrokes themselves, but also the time when they were made, the program they were made in and the caption of the active window. All that allows you to find out not only what exactly the user typed, but also in what software and what file was open at that moment.
The second type of monitoring is making screenshots. They are necessary to be able to see what the user was doing while the computer owner was away. The program can make screenshots both by timer (one at a certain number of minutes) and when each new window is opened. Besides, the administrator can specify what screenshots in particular is necessary (the entire screen or only the active window) and their quality.
The next type of monitoring Refog Personal Monitor can perform comes down to controlling the software activity. When it is used, the tool will log all running and closed software. Thus, the PC owner will always know what software was used while he was away. The forth type of monitoring is tracking the information copied to the clipboard.
Let's move on. The fifth type of information that the tool can log is the addresses of visited web pages. It is very important because controlling the use of the Internet is quite a pressing issue. Visiting some sites may not only distract employees from their work and affect the mind of children, but also seriously threaten the computer security. That is why control in this field is absolutely necessary. And, finally, the last type of monitoring allows you to track the procedures of switching on, switching off and restarting the computer.
The ability to run in the stealth mode is an important feature of Refog Personal Monitor. Once this mode is activated, it is impossible to detect the tool with the standard means of the operating system. Besides, the interesting thing is that you can either enable or disable it. In the first case, the monitoring will be secret. In the second case, users will know that the computer owner controls their activities. It will be honest towards them and prevent attempts of inappropriate computer use. However, you should understand that the visible mode makes sense only if access to the settings of the program and its logs is protected with the built-in password protection.
Another interesting feature of the Refog Personal Monitor product is selective monitoring. First of all, the computer owner can enable or disable various types of monitoring for each user. It is possible to completely disable monitoring for some people. This approach allows you to flexibly configure the control system and minimize the size of logs. This feature can be very useful, for example, at home. Parents can create special accounts for their children (which is actually quite normal) and enable monitoring only those accounts. Second, Refog Personal Monitor allows you to specify the list of software that should be controlled or that should not be controlled. This feature allows you to reduce the size of logs keeping them as informative as before.
Viewing the collected information in the form of a table
By the way, you can control the size of logs saved by Refog Personal Monitor. The computer owner can specify the maximum log size for each user and make the program delete information in case the limit is exceeded. It allows you to prevent lack of space on the hard disk and a slowdown in the computer performance due to too large logs saved by the tool.
Another useful feature implemented in Refog Personal Monitor is remote control. You have to configure it in order to use it: specify the parameters of access to an FTP server or enter your e-mail address. After that the tool will automatically send the collected information at the specified time interval. Besides, the computer owner can select the type of this report (in the HTML format or as a ZIP file) and also the data that will be included in it (for example, everything except screenshots, only keystrokes, etc.).
The system of urgent alert signals deserves to be mentioned separately. The essence of this feature comes down to the following. First, you have to specify the list of undesirable words. In future, if the user you control types any of them, the corresponding notification and, if necessary, the log will be immediately sent to the e-mail address specified in the settings. It will help parents to keep their children away from unpleasant situations, to prevent a leak of confidential information, etc.
Viewing the collected information in the form of a report
Also, it is impossible to keep from saying a few words about viewing the information collected by Refog Personal Monitor. To begin with, data can be represented in two forms. The first one is a table. The computer owner can use it to quickly look through all records and their main characteristics: title, window caption, event type, etc. (a separate set of characteristics for each type of monitoring). For your convenience, it is possible to sort the list by any column and use filters in the tool (for example, view keystrokes made only in Internet Explorer). The second type of information representation is a report. It is used to print the collected information in order, for example, to present it as evidence of an employee's inappropriate activity. The log view section also has a time filter that you can use to view only unread records or records made within a certain time period. It is very convenient because logs can grow very large in case of extensive activity.
All there is left to do is to sum it up. The Refog Personal Monitor product is a real spy that monitors user activity. But unlike malicious software, this spy is useful. Of course, it is not always right to use it. Nevertheless, using such tools in some case is not only justified, but also necessary.