How Do I Check Recent Activity On My Computer?

two people checking their computer activity together

This article will be answering this common question: “how do I check recent activity on my computer?”. I will show you how to review recent activities using apps that come included with Windows as well as CurrentWare’s computer monitoring software solutions.

Checking recent activity on your computer allows you to see how the devices in your network have been used, allowing you to investigate suspicious activity such as web browsing and changes to files during periods where nobody should have been accessing the PC. 

Table of Contents


How Can I Tell if Someone Has Used My Computer?

If you are concerned that someone else has been using your computer, Windows includes free tools that you can use to check recent activity on your computer. If you discover events that occurred when you were not using your computer, it could be an indication that your computer was used without your knowledge.

Check Computer Events With Windows Event Viewer

Note: When you view the logs in Windows Event Viewer you are likely to see a few event logs of errors that have occurred on your machine. This is completely normal and not an immediate cause for concern if your machine is otherwise running smoothly – the application records every event on your computer, including minor start-up and processing errors that have likely resolved themselves. 

Windows Event Viewer is a utility that comes included with the Windows operating system. It’s intended to be used by system administrators to view event logs on local and remote machines, but it can also tell you when your computer has been turned on. If your computer has been turned on when you were not using it, that could mean that someone else was using your computer.

  1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard – the Windows symbol is found in the bottom-left corner of most keyboards, between the CTRL and ALT keys.
  2. Type Event – this will highlight Event Viewer in the search boxThe Event Viewer application is highlighted in the windows start menu
  3. Press the Enter key to launch Event ViewerAn overview of the Windows Event Viewer dashboard
  4. Double-Click Windows Logs in the left-hand pane
  5. In the drop-down menu below Windows Logs, click System The Windows Logs drop-down menu found in Event Viewer
  6. In the right-hand pane click Filter Current Log
  7. This will bring up the Filter Current Log pop-up menu. Click on the Event sources drop-down menu and scroll down until you see Power-Troubleshooter.
  8. Click the box next to Power-Troubleshooter, then click anywhere in the gray area in the Filter Current Log window to close the menu.
  9. Click the OK Button.
  10. In the center window you will now see all of the times that your computer has been turned on. If you did not turn on the computer for one of the events listed, someone else may have been using your computer.The center panel of Windows Event Viewer. A Power-Troubleshooter event is highlighted

If you are using Windows 10 Professional, you can also enable auditing of logon events in the Local Group Policy Editor. This will allow you to track which user accounts log in to your Windows devices.


How to View Recently Edited Files

Viewing recently edited files on your Windows machine will allow you to see what files were opened on your computer. If you find files that were recently modified when you were not using your PC, this could mean that someone else was on your computer.

  1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard – the Windows symbol is found in the bottom-left corner of most keyboards, between the CTRL and ALT keys.
  2. Type Run – this will highlight the Run application in the search box
  3. Press the Enter key to launch the Run application
  4. In the box that pops up, type in Recent
  5. This will bring up a window that shows all of the files that have been recently edited on your computer. There is likely to be unfamiliar files without icons – these are likely temporary files and are not a cause for concern.A screenshot of recently modified files in Windows
  6. You can sort items by the date that they were last modified by clicking the Date Modified box at the top. If this is not visible to you, Right Click the column headers and select Date Modified from the drop-down menu.
    A list of all of the shorting methods in Windows File Explorer 

How Do I Check Internet Browsing Activity On My Computer?

Each web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Edge, etc) comes with its own internet browsing history. This can often be accessed by launching the program and pressing CTRL + H to bring up the browsing data of your device. 

Unfortunately, if you or another user were browsing in a private browsing mode such as Chrome’s Incognito mode or Edge’s InPrivate mode you will not be able to see the internet browsing activity from that time period using this method. Fortunately, there are computer monitoring tools that can track website history even when private browsing mode is used.

Monitor Computer Usage and Web Activity With BrowseReporter

CurrentWare’s BrowseReporter is a computer monitoring software that can be used to monitor activity on your own computer or another computer in your network. BrowseReporter is a powerful PC monitoring software for tracking internet usage and computer applications in the workplace.

BrowseReporter can track these computer activities:

  • Internet Browsing: Monitor all websites that are visited, even when private browsing is enabled.
  • Bandwidth Monitor: Bandwidth usage can be logged to troubleshoot slow internet connections and discover bandwidth abuse in the network.
  • Application Use: BrowseReporter can be used as a software monitor to track Windows applications.

The fastest way to track web and application activity on your own computer will be to easily perform a standalone installation of CurrentWare by installing BrowseReporter, the CurrentWare server, the CurrentWare console, and CurrentWare client on the same device. 

How To Monitor Activity On Another Computer With BrowseReporter

If you would like to use BrowseReporter to monitor another computer, you can do so by installing the CurrentWare client on each computer that you would like to track. If you’d like to give it a try before purchasing a license, you can track internet activity for free with a 14-day trial. 

If you will be managing multiple devices you will benefit greatly from the included central console as it allows you to manage all of your devices remotely rather than checking each computer manually.

BrowseReporter Sites Visited report sports and entertainment websites listed.
One of BrowseReporter’s many internet usage monitoring reports

How Do I Check USB Device History On My Computer?

Logo for AccessPatrol, CurrentWare's USB Blocker and Endpoint Security Software

Checking USB device history is incredibly useful for performing a digital forensics investigation. If you are running a business it can be helpful to see USB activities on your network to collect evidence of illicit data transfers and the use of unauthorized devices by your employees.

If you are investigating a standalone machine and you do not need real-time alerts and detailed file transfer history, you can use Windows Event Viewer to view events where USB devices have been connected and disconnected from the computer.

If you would like more detailed information about how USB devices are used on your endpoint devices, you can use AccessPatrol to track file operations and device history.

AccessPatrol’s USB tracking features:

  • File Operations History: Generate reports on files that are copied, modified, created, and deleted to USB devicesAccessPatrol files operations report with 15 different file operations listed.
  • Devices Accessed: Track USB device history to see devices that have been connected to the computerAccessPatrol all devices accessed report with Apple iPhone at the top of the report.

Email alerts can be configured in AccessPatrol to generate real-time alerts of USB device usage and file operations on the endpoints in your network. 

Conclusion

Checking the recent activity on the computers within your network can provide you with helpful insights into how the computer has been used. While Windows does include free utilities that let you check recent activity on your PC, specialized computer monitoring software solutions will allow you to perform activity monitoring more efficiently. 

Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland is a Marketing Coordinator for CurrentWare, a global provider of endpoint security and employee monitoring software. Dale’s diverse multimedia background allows him the opportunity to produce a variety of content for CurrentWare including blogs, infographics, videos, eBooks, and social media shareables.