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How to Monitor Application Usage on Windows Computers (Video)

BrowseReporter. Employee Monitoring: How to monitor application usage

How to Monitor Windows Application Use With BrowseReporter

NOTE: The above video features a legacy user interface for BrowseReporter. To see the latest features and interface please visit the BrowseReporter product page.

2022 Updates

Hey everyone, this is Dale here. I am the Digital Marketing Manager for CurrentWare.

In today’s video, I’d like to show off the new user activity data dashboards that were introduced to BrowseReporter in version 6.0.2. 

With these dashboards, you can review the productivity levels, web browsing, application usage, and bandwidth consumption of your entire workforce from the convenience of a web browser. 

These dashboards work in tandem with BrowseReporter’s computer activity reports to provide valuable insights into how technology is used in your organization.

Today’s video is just a sneak peek of what BrowseReporter is capable of; as time goes on you can expect to see further enhancements and data points added to these dashboards.

How the Dashboards Work

To begin using the new dashboards simply select the groups or users you would like to review, then select the desired time period.

Here at the top of the Overview dashboard, you will see a comparison between the data from this period and the previous time period. This gives you a high-level glance into whether the given metrics have increased or decreased during this timeframe.

Below that, we have graphs showing the Top 5 most used websites and applications. This shows you what computer activities your users spend the most time on.

Next, you’ll see the top 5 most active and idle users or groups. 

BrowseReporter automatically switches from Active Time Tracking to Idle Time Tracking when the user stops using their keyboard or mouse for a set period of time; this threshold can be changed to fit your organization’s needs.

Dashboards for Specific Groups/Users

Let’s drill down even further by clicking on one of our groups.

In this group sub-dashboard, you can see the most productive and unproductive users in the group, along with a dedicated Activity Log. 

Likewise, if we started out looking at a specific user rather than a group we would be taken to a sub-dashboard with that specific user’s online status and computer activity data.

Activity Log For Raw User Activity Data

The activity log lets you review the raw data that is used to populate the dashboards. 

You can use the search function to find specific information, use the column men u to adjust what columns appear, and sort the data that is displayed.

What data points are available in the Activity Log will vary depending on the dashboard you’re viewing.

For example, here in the Overview dashboard, we have access to Group or usernames along with several active and idle time metrics.

In the productivity dashboard, we’d have access to the group or user name, the number of users, and various productivity metrics.

Likewise, the Activity Log of the Websites dashboard shows domain names, active time, web content categories, and the productivity categorization for the domain.

The Activity Log of the Applications dashboard shows the application name, process name, active time, and idle time.

If you’d like to use the Activity Log data in a business intelligence tool you can easily export your user activity data to an Excel spreadsheet. 

If you’d like to provide a visual copy of the Activity Log to someone else, you can use the Export to PDF function. The PDF will display the Activity Log, including hyperlinks to the sub-dashboards of the groups or users shown. 

So long as the viewer has access to an operator account with sufficient permissions they’ll be able to follow these hyperlinks to learn more about the selected user or group.

To finish things off, let’s take a look at the dashboards offered in version 6.0.2

Productivity Dashboard

Switching over to the Productivity dashboard you will see how much time was spent on productive, unproductive, and neutral web browsing. You’ll also see who the most productive and unproductive users or groups are, as well as the top 5 websites and categories. 

What is considered productive can be customized by going to BrowseReporter’s Productivity Grading window; a shortcut to this can be found in the dashboard settings. 

From here you’ll be able to specify whether a given website category or a specific domain should be labeled as productive, unproductive, or neutral.

Internet Browsing Dashboard

Moving on to the Websites dashboard you will find the total active and idle time for the selected groups or users, the top 5 websites and most active users, as well as the web browsing Activity Log.

Application Usage Dashboard

In the applications dashboard, you will find similar graphs showing how much time was spent using applications, the top 5 most used applications, the 5 users that spent the most time using applications, and the application usage Activity Log.

Bandwidth Consumption Dashboard

Finally, we have the bandwidth usage dashboard. Here you’ll be able to see who is using the most bandwidth and how much bandwidth was used each day.  

If you’d like to see what websites are responsible for anomalies in bandwidth usage you can run BrowseReporter’s Bandwidth Usage by URL report. 

This report will show you the exact websites that are consuming bandwidth; from there you can decide whether the bandwidth hogs need to be blocked with BrowseControl or if other corrective measures need to be taken.

Conclusion

Ready to boost operational efficiency, employee productivity, and endpoint security with advanced awareness and control over how your employees use technology in the workplace? 

Get started today with a FREE trial of any of our software solutions. 

Simply visit CurrentWare.com/Download to try our software for yourself or get in touch with us at CurrentWare.com/Contact.

Thank you!

A lot has changed in BrowseReporter since this video was introduced; BrowseReporter’s new user activity dashboards provide further insights into what software your employees use.

Original Video Transcript

Thanks for checking out the latest CurrentWare how-to video. Today we will cover how to monitor application activity on your employee’s computers.

If you like this or other videos we’ve produced, hit the subscribe button below. Stay tuned to the end to learn how to get a free trial of the software I demo today.

The benefits of monitoring computer applications

Let’s get started with covering some of the benefits of monitoring application activity in your workplace.

  • The first is Shadow IT and getting insight into unknown and unmanaged applications.
  • The second is understanding who is using unproductive or non-work related programs.
  • The third is Application Sprawl & License Management to see if there’s apps that very few users are using or legacy apps that should be removed & de-licensed

So let’s jump in.

Shadow IT refers to software that employees use without the knowledge of the IT department or management. According to the Everest Group over 50% of technology spend in organizations is considered Shadow IT. This means that over half their budgets are spent on software and programs that the IT department has no knowledge of. 

Monitoring application use with BrowseReporter

With CurrentWare’s BrowseReporter solution, you can see exactly which applications are being run in your environment. 

Desktop screen capture showing executables for Dropbox, Cisco Webex, and other Windows applications

In this example, we see that the user has the Dropbox app installed. Dropbox is a popular consumer cloud storage and sharing platform and the user has been using Dropbox to transfer and store files. In this company’s environment, Dropbox is not an approved file storage application so it is a major concern that they are using this application on a work device.

Application usage report from BrowseReporter, computer monitoring software

With BrowseReporter’s top applications by active time report, we are able to discover that the user Andy has been spending a significant amount of time on Dropbox as it’s his most used application. This is an issue that should immediately be investigated by the IT department to ensure the user is not involved in any nefarious activity. 

In previous videos, we’ve covered how distracting and unproductive the internet can be, but applications can be just as bad. By using BrowseReporter, you can investigate which employees are being distracted by unproductive computer programs like chat apps, video games or movie players.

BrowseReporter's software application usage monitoring dashboard with graphs

In this example, we can see the user is sending a lot of messages on Skype and by looking at the applications used by hour report, we see Andy spent all his time from 11AM and 1PM on Skype. Skype is not an application that is used by this organization for work purposes. This isn’t a productive use of Andy’s time and could be a good opportunity to speak to him about why he is spending so much time on the app.

Collect software utilization data to address application sprawl

The third area to focus on is application sprawl and understanding software utilization. Software licenses, especially SAAS products can be expensive so understanding which products are actually being used by which employees can significantly reduce costs & cybersecurity risks. In addition, it’s a good opportunity to learn if there are products that some users are using that could benefit the rest of the organization. 

BrowseReporter computer monitoring software daily application usage by hour report with conferencing software examples

In this example, we see that Andy has been using numerous different types of conference call, screen sharing and video applications like Go to Meeting, Slack, Zoho Assist, Zoho Meetings and Skype. All of these apps have similar functionality, so understanding why Andy is using so many different applications and whether these platforms should be blocked in our environment should be investigated. In addition, the IT department could understand the benefits of the platforms Andy is using and decide whether the tools can be deployed for the rest of the organization.  

Block Windows Applications With BrowseControl

screenshot of BrowseControl's application blocker

Now that we’ve covered how to monitor application activity, one last thing to note is undesirable applications can actually be blocked using CurrentWare’s BrowseControl. So whether it’s for security, productivity or for some other reason, being able to block applications that are not authorized for your environment can be beneficial.

With CurrentWare’s products you can also find out which URLs are being visited and block specific URLs or categories of websites. For example if Andy was also using dropbox.com or another cloud storage website, you can find out how often he was visiting that domain, block the URL, or even block the entire cloud storage category of websites.

Thanks for watching this video on how to monitor application use with BrowseReporter. If you have any thoughts on the reports or suggestions we’ve covered in this video, feel free to comment below. 

If you’d like to give BrowseReporter or any of the other CurrentWare Solutions a try, please check out our free trial at CurrentWare.com/download or get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help!

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.