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The Best Employee Monitoring Software for 2021

By Lori Fairbanks,
Business News Daily Staff
| Updated
Dec 07, 2020

We've researched and reviewed the best employee monitoring software for businesses in 2020.
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Ideal for remote workforces
Tracks employee productivity
Free trial with 24/7 Support
Best Free Software
Pricing: Limited free version; paid version starts at $7.20 per user, per month with annual contract
Best Overall
Pricing: Starts at $12 per user, per month with a five-user minimum
Best for Small Businesses
Pricing: Starts at $59.95 per year, plus $19.95 per year for each additional license
Best for Productivity
Pricing: Limited free version; paid version starts at $7 per user, per month with a two-user minimum
We've researched and reviewed the best employee monitoring software for businesses in 2020.

Update: This page has been updated to include more information on how employee monitoring software can benefit your small business.

Employee monitoring software gives small business owners and managers insight into how employees spend their time at work. It monitors web browsing and application use, captures random screenshots and logs keystrokes. We evaluated 29 software applications and chose four best picks based on affordability, ease of use, and features that help you monitor employee activity, productivity, and security.

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Our Reviews

InterGuard: Featured Sponsor

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InterGuard's employee monitoring solution provides businesses with instant insight into the productivity of their remote employees. The platform allows you to quickly see when employees log in and out, their idle versus active time, and just how productive their active time was. Screenshot capture, email, website and chat monitoring, website blocking, and file tracking are also key services InterGuard offers. The intuitive and well-organized user interface, which helps you quickly spot trends and possible concerns, provides a variety of dashboards that can be customized for your specific needs. InterGuard is available as a cloud-hosted or on-premises solution. It supports Windows, Mac, Chromebooks, Android and iOS devices, as well as VDI and terminal server environments such as Citrix and VMWare.
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ActivTrak: Best Free Employee Monitoring Software

ActivTrak is our pick as the best free employee monitoring software because the free version of its software monitors up to three users with activity tracking, website monitoring and content filtering, making it a great option for very small businesses that need a basic solution for a few employees. ActivTrak is an intuitive program with a modern user interface; further, it had the most important features we looked for in a monitoring solution. For businesses that need to monitor additional employees, the paid version is inexpensive, starting at $7.20 per user, per month. The Advanced version unlocks USB device detection, a security audit feature and a remote agent installer, all useful for administrators managing the platform. However, the free version has more than enough features for a small office to get started monitoring their employees and ultimately determine whether paying for an employee monitoring solution is worth the investment.
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Teramind: Best Overall Employee Monitoring Software

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Teramind is the overall best employee monitoring software we reviewed. It is a comprehensive and intuitive application that includes all the essential features you need to make sure your employees are on task and your sensitive data is secure. It includes webpage and program tracking, activity monitoring, screenshots, live chat and social media monitoring, and allows you to set policies that alert you to certain user behaviors. It is versatile and easy to use, and although its price tag is on the high end among the software we evaluated, the quality certainly justifies the price. It costs $12 per user, per month, and Teramind requires a minimum of five users. If it's in your budget, Teramind helps you easily and effectively keep tabs on your employees' behavior.
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SentryPC: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Small Businesses

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SentryPC is our pick as the best software solution for small businesses. Its software is priced at an affordable annual rate with no user minimums and without cutting corners on features. It is easy to learn and use, and it includes the essential tools like inactivity alerts, content filtering, keystroke logging, random screen capture and data loss prevention measures. Its pricing model is unique in that it allows you to purchase one license on an annual basis and additional licenses at a significantly discounted rate. Each license provides access to the full functionality of the software without restricting any features. Although its employee monitoring plans each have a maximum number of available screenshots, you can purchase additional screenshot storage for a one-time fee of $19.95 per 500 screenshots. This is beneficial for businesses that need extra storage but don't want to upgrade to a higher plan.
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Hubstaff: Best Employee Monitoring Software for Productivity

Hubstaff is our pick as the best employee monitoring software for productivity. Although it has some surveillance features, it focuses on monitoring employee activity. It takes random screenshots of user screens, tracks websites and applications, measures user activity based on keyboard and mouse usage, and tracks user time against tasks, making it especially helpful for businesses who pay employees hourly (including freelancers and independent consultants) as well as those that bill clients for time spent on their projects. It has idle prompts that pop up when the software detects inactivity for a certain amount of time and asks your employees if they are still working and if they want to continue tracking their time. It has a free plan that supports one user and three paid plans, starting at $7 per user, per month with a two-user minimum.
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What to Expect in 2020

As many businesses have shifted their workforce from the office to working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for employee monitoring software has increased as employers with newly remote teams seek to ensure that employees are maintaining their productivity. 

However, employee monitoring is a sensitive subject, and there are varying rules and regulations from state to state. The activity you can monitor is often dependent on whether the device is company owned or employee owned, whether employees work onsite or remotely, and what type of information you are trying to capture. 

Federal law is relatively lenient, but many states are implementing restrictions on the type of data employers can collect. 

Some states, like Delaware and Connecticut, require employers to notify employees when they are monitoring email or web activity. Others, including Colorado and Tennessee, maintain added protections for public employees. Some states also regulate what kinds of data companies collect; email communications might be OK, for example, but capturing biometric data requires the employee's knowledge and consent. 

Understanding your state laws, as well as whether any new legislation or legal proceedings are likely in 2020, is critical to ensuring your implementation of employee monitoring software doesn't backfire and trigger a lawsuit. 

Further complicating the issue is that many employees bring their own devices to work. Federally, employers have a great deal of latitude to monitor their own devices operating on their own network. But what if freelance or remote employees use their own devices? This case is a little less clear, and experts recommend the cautious crafting of a policy that requires employees to consent to limited data capture and monitoring (with explicit mentions of which data would be captured and for what business purposes). Failure to consent to this policy should come with a requirement for that user to work on a company-owned device instead.

How Much Does Employee Monitoring Software Cost?

Pricing for employee monitoring solutions varies depending on the features you need and how many employees you have. For instance, a very small business that needs basic features and has one or two employees may be able to use a free option, whereas businesses that need top-shelf features may pay up to $150 per user, per year. On average, however, you can expect to pay between $40 and $60 per user, per year.   

Pricing is usually calculated on a per-user basis, is billed either monthly or annually, and includes the software, updates and tech support. Some vendors charge a one-time licensing fee, and then charge for annual software updates and support plans. 

When you're comparing pricing, here are four factors you need to look for so you aren't surprised when you get the bill. 

  1. User minimums. Some companies allow you to buy just one or two licenses, but some require a minimum of five or 10.

  2. Add-on features. If there are specific advanced features you want, such as geolocation tracking, you may have to pay extra for it.

  3. Extra fees. Additional fees aren't common, but it's important to look for them before you sign up, so you know exactly what costs you're agreeing to. Check for setup fees – which may be hundreds of dollars – and IP renewal fees.

  4. Contract requirement. Many employee monitoring software providers offer month-to-month plans and some offer a discount if you pay annually. As with any service, you want to find out if you're required to sign a contract. If that's the case, ask for a copy of the contract and review it, paying particular attention to the term length and the cancellation procedure. 

What Features Should Employee Monitoring Software Have?

There are a lot of different features for employee monitoring software, and the ones you need depend on how you want to monitor your employees. 

Consider your reasons for wanting to monitor your employees. Do you want to make sure they aren't surfing the internet and scrolling through Facebook when they're on the clock? Do you worry about having confidential information or trade secrets leaked? Are you looking for a way to monitor productivity? You also need to decide if you'll be actively using the software or if you need it to send you notifications when it detects certain actions. 

Here are some key monitoring features to look for: 

  • Content blocking. There are obviously some types of websites your employees shouldn't visit during working hours – or even at all using a work-issued computer and internet access – and this feature allows you to block those types of websites as well as individual URLs. Some software allows you to set time limits for certain sites or designate times when blocks are lifted, for instance, if you allow your employees to visit social media or shopping sites on lunch breaks. Others allow you to set access permissions by individual or user group.

  • App and website tracking. This feature shows you which applications your employees use – such as Word or Excel – and the URLs of the websites your employees visit. It also shows you how much time they spend on them.

  • Keylogging. With this feature, you can see every keystroke your employees type, whether it's in emails, instant messages, Word documents or online.

  • Screenshots, video or live feed of monitors. Want to see what your employees are working on? Most employee monitoring solutions take random screenshots of employee monitors (and many support multiple screens). Some record video of monitored activity, and some even give you a live view.

  • USB and print monitoring. If you're worried about data leaks, these are must-have features. You'll receive an alert if the software detects that a thumb drive or portable hard drive has been inserted into a company computer. Print monitoring tracks the files that have been printed from each computer.

  • Productivity tracking. There are different ways to track employee productivity. Some software tracks user activity by detecting keyboard and mouse activity. Others require users to track their work time against tasks or client projects.

  • Mobile apps. If you travel or have employees working at nonstandard times, it's convenient to have a mobile app that you can use to access the software and receive alerts. Some apps are platform-specific, however, so make sure the software is compatible with your phone if this feature is important to you.

What Are the Benefits of Employee Monitoring Software?

Employee monitoring software can be beneficial to your business; however, the benefits will depend on the features you have access to. Two things that many small businesses seek to increase are employee productivity and company security. 

Software monitoring features like keystroke logging, mouse activity tracking and webcam recording can show you how active your employees are on their devices. Is their device idle for long periods of time, or are they actively engaging in work activity all day long? Although the specific employee activity monitoring features vary by software, it can be useful to have some idea of which employees are working when they say they are. 

Software monitoring features like website tracking, content filtering and screen captures can help you gain insight as to what content your employees are engaging with, including which websites and applications they spend most of their time on. Are they watching cat videos or viewing inappropriate content on company property? With employee monitoring software, you can see (and block) the websites your employees use, and discuss any performance issues with employees who are using company devices improperly. 

Not only can software monitoring help you record employee productivity, but it can help with security and legal disputes as well. Recording and archiving employee behavior can help you back up a claim if a disgruntled employee files a complaint. Managing website permissions and using USB and print monitoring can help you prevent leaks of confidential data. Employees will be restricted from viewing malicious websites or behaving maliciously themselves. 

If you want to secure your entire network (instead of tracking individual behavior), you can use networking monitoring. This will allow you to track the functionality of all network components (e.g., firewalls, routers, servers) to reduce or even eliminate network downtime.

Our Previous Winners

Business News Daily strives to find the best products and services for your small business. We invest hours into identifying and researching the best products and services so you feel confident about our recommendations.

We revisit our categories each year, evaluating new changes in the industry and new companies. Our process involves revisiting our previous best picks to determine if they are still the best in their category.

In addition to our current recommendations, here are the companies we previously selected as best picks:

Best for Internet Management: SoftActivity Monitor 

Best for Content Filtering: ContentProtect

Our Methodology

To help you find the best employee monitoring software, we researched and analyzed dozens of companies. Here is a roundup of our 2020 best picks and an explanation of how we chose them.

Locating the Best Services

We asked small business owners about the software they use and would recommend to others. To this list, we added the companies on our current vendor list, those who had reached out to us asking to be reviewed, plus other vendors we learned about as we researched this topic, bringing our list to 29 companies.

Choosing the Best Services

With this initial list in hand, we combed through company websites, customer reviews and other online review publications before narrowing the list of candidates to 14 finalists. We removed from our list companies that don't serve small businesses, don't post their pricing online, look dated or haven't recently updated their software, among other criteria.

Researching Each Service

After reviewing websites and reviews, we then compared companies against more detailed criteria to narrow the list further. We downloaded free trial software where available and reviewed video tutorials and training materials to determine how the software performed and what features were available. Our criteria included evaluating the ease of use of the software, the pricing, the activity monitoring features included with the software and the availability of technical support.

Our Best Picks

After reviewing all these factors, we selected four of the finalists as best picks: ActivTrak, Hubstaff, SentryPC and Teramind.

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks
Business News Daily Staff
See Lori Fairbanks's Profile
Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes about small business finance, including accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems for business.com and Business News Daily.


CleverControl is cloud-based employee monitoring software with quick and easy installation and the essential tools for ensuring productivity and adherence to company policy, including internet usage monitoring, screenshots and keylogging.
CurrentWare employee monitoring software is designed to control internet access and filter content as well as monitor employee browsing and software usage. It allows you to filter by category or individual URLs, block applications and monitor how much time users spend on different programs.
Cyclope offers employee monitoring software and activity analysis, which helps admins contextualize the data the software captures. It shows which websites employees visit and how much time employees spend on them. It also tracks active and inactive employee time based on computer usage.
iMonitor EAM was designed to protect company data and ensure employee productivity and adherence to company policy. It gives admins access to a central dashboard that oversees the entire staff ecosystem, with real-time desktop monitoring and alerts.
InterGuard's employee monitoring software aims to gauge productivity as well as employee compliance with legal guidelines and company policy. It takes screenshots and video of user monitors, and tracks how much time users spend on websites and apps.
Kickidler offers a real-time view into employee activity with a grid-style dashboard and a built-in time and attendance tool. The software also includes a datacentric reporting suite that provides an overview of the insights gathered by the software as it monitors each device.
NetVizor focuses on keeping employees on task. It monitors their web browsing and application usage, including social media platforms, to show you how they use their time. It allows you to block content to prevent distractions and time-wasting.
OsMonitor employee monitoring software offers admins insight into employees' screens in real time and gives them the ability to block specific content, such as unwanted websites or video games.
Pearl Echo.Suite is billed as web filtering and cybersecurity software that can run on desktops and mobile devices to monitor email, browsing, file transfers and more. It allows you to set access permissions, and tracks keyword usage and text patterns.
SafeSquid is designed to monitor employee activity and protect networks against malicious software and preventable attacks like phishing and ransomware threats. It is a scalable solution that can grow with your business.
StaffCop helps you monitor computer and internet activity – including emails, chats and social networks – with screenshot recording, keystroke logging, file and folder monitoring, and website, application and USB-device blocking.
Toggl is time tracking software that can help you keep tabs on when your employees are working, even if they are remote. Toggl is more focused on time, attendance and project management than surveillance, with tools for monitoring employee time on the clock, setting timelines and budgetary limits for projects, and tracking deadlines toward project milestones.
Track.ly is productivity software with employee monitoring features such as real-time employee activity monitoring, screenshot capture, website and app tracking, and a GPS tool that identifies the employee's location.
TransparentBusiness focuses on monitoring remote teams' productivity. From the dashboard, you can see which of your employees are currently working, the tasks you've assigned them, the amount of time spent on tasks and a productivity meter that shows users' level of engagement.
Veriato Cerebral helps administrators assess threat detection and limit employees' online activity – giving you the ability to control what they can and cannot do on the internet. It is a flexible system that allows you to tailor the parameters to fit the needs of your organization.
Vericlock is time-tracking software that monitors employees' time and location using GPS geotagging to monitor where your employees are clocking in and out from, which assures you that employees are where they claim to be. Vericlock also includes a snapshot system for verifying that employees are making progress on their tasks.
Websense Web Filter by Forcepoint is focused on the online content filtering side of the employee monitoring equation, ensuring that employees do not access prohibited or time-wasting content while using company devices or during the workday.
Work Examiner's surveillance and web usage controls monitoring the time users spend on websites, the terms they enter into search engines and the files they downloaded. It takes screenshots and videos of user monitors, and tracks active and idle computer time.
WorkPuls is time-tracking and employee monitoring software designed to be easy to learn and use. It keeps tabs on employee productivity with activity tracking, screenshots, and web and app usage monitoring. It also helps manage employee scheduling and workload.
Employee monitoring software is often considered for its activity monitoring features – those aspects which allow administrators to watch and review user behavior and productivity on company time.
SoftActivity Monitor is our best pick for employee monitoring software for internet management because of its effective features that track and restrict which websites your employees visit, as well as the content they download or upload.
Featured Sponsor
InterGuard gives you the flexibility to monitor employee activities. It provides a comprehensive picture of what your employees are doing while they're on the clock, plus it provides tools to increase productivity.
Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
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