How many hours do you spend on your computer? When did you start the computer yesterday? When was the computer shut down?
Such information may be useful if you're trying to organize your day, by reducing your computer usage, or to increase your productivity by starting earlier.
Windows makes a record of things that happen on your system, these changes are logged as "events". For e.g. when you start your computer, Windows logs and labels it as "SystemStartUp". Turned off the pc? That's stored as "SystemShutdown", and so on.
But it isn't exactly easy to read these logs in the Windows Log viewer. SimpleActivityLogger is a freeware tool that can assist you with this.
The program takes just about 5MB to install. Its interface is called the "Viewer". The toolbar at the top can be used to change the format of the date and the username. You may toggle the status bar, tooltips, and the column autosize tools.
There are four columns in the main panel: #, timestamp, category, user and event. These represent the event's number, the timestamp when the event occurred, the type of the event, the user who was logged in during the event, and a description of the event, respectively.
How does it work?
You don't have to keep the program running in the background. SimpleActivityLogger installs its own Windows service, that runs at boot. This is how it records the time when the events occur. They are saved under a custom channel named "Activity Log".
It can log the following events:
System Startup, System Shutdown
Power Suspend, Power Restore, Power Restore User
Session Log On, Session Logoff
Console Lock, Console Unlock
Session Connect, Session Disconnect
Remote Connect, Remote Disconnect
Screensaver Start, Screensaver Stop
Monitor Power On, Monitor Power Off
System Away Enter, System Away Exit
Presence Active, Presence Inactive
Simple Monitor Off, User Defined, Debug Event
This includes logging of hibernate and resume, in case you use those. Use the text box at the bottom to log a custom event. It will appear as a UserDefined event. Clicking the Event Viewer button on the toolbar opens the Windows Event Viewer.
Let's take a look at the screenshot. One of the events says that I logged on at 7:51 AM, and the computer was shut down at 9:45 PM. That tells you I used the computer between the times mentioned, but what about the things that happened on the computer.
No, those aren't recorded, because this is not a spy software. This is an analytical tool and every user can access the program and view the statistics. Since I'm the only user of my computer, I created a second user account to see if it logged those events. It did, and I was able to access the program and view the events too. This can be useful if you're sharing your computer, or if you want to ensure your kids aren't spending too much time on the system. Keep in mind there are no parental controls in SimpleActivityLogger.
That said, notice that the event numbers differ greatly. This shows that several other events took place during the time the computer was active. Where are these saved? By default, the program does not display the User Presence (Active or Inactive), but these are stored by the event logger, so SimpleActivityLogger can include the active and inactive times if you choose to enable them.
Click on the Events button in the top left corner to bring up the list of events that are logged. Enabling the UserPresence events gives you an idea of your actual usage and AFK times, so that can be handy if you're trying to cut down on the time spent in front of your computer. While you're on the Events screen, you may choose to disable any event type and these won't be recorded by the program.
SimpleActivityLogger is not portable, that's because it installs a service to log the events. It is a 32-bit and works with Windows 7 and above.
The program was able to accurately log down when I logged out of the system and logged back in, when the screen saver began and was stopped. It's also pretty easy to use. Take your time to read the "Interface > Filters and display" section in the built-in help file, for more information about each event type.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.