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Best Employee Monitoring Software for Internet Management: SoftActivity Monitor Review

SoftActivity Monitor, an employee monitoring software solution from SoftActivity, is generally well-rounded employee monitoring software. However, where this product excels is in internet management, with tools like webpage access rules and monitoring, real-time behavioral alerts, and policies to prevent unwanted activity before it occurs.

Internet management is a narrower focus against the wide-ranging employee monitoring backdrop, but naturally, the internet is where a great deal of nefarious or unproductive employee activity occurs. Activity Monitor does a great job of giving employers administrative insight into and control over what employees do online during the workday or on company devices.

SoftActivity Monitor's pricing model is unique in that SoftActivity only charges a one-time licensing fee for a perpetual license that never expires. Most other employee monitoring software vendors charge a monthly per-user subscription rate.

SoftActivity Monitor requires a minimum of three devices (one administrator and two employees) and starts at $189.99. Each additional license costs $70 or can be purchased in bulk for a small discount. SoftActivity charges $300 for five additional licenses and $500 for 10. To find out exactly what your licensure cost would be, use the pricing tool on SoftActivity's website.

SoftActivity charges an additional rate for its Updates and Support plan. For the first year of licensure, updates and tech support are free. For each following year, you'll be charged 33 percent of your initial licensure costs to continue receiving software updates and access to tech support. You can retain access to SoftActivity Monitor without this plan, but you will miss out on any software updates and will no longer have access to tech support should something go wrong.

SoftActivity offers a seven-day free trial of SoftActivity Monitor, so you can test the software out before you buy.

SoftActivity Monitor has a good selection of features. It isn't the most extensive software we reviewed, but it's not too limited either. Its internet management features particularly impressed us. All users are displayed on a sidebar on the left-hand side of the screen, while screenshot images and live feeds of their activity are prominently displayed in a central dashboard. Clicking on a user's display allows admins to take a closer look. Once a user is selected, a variety of monitoring tools appear at the bottom of the screen:

  • Screen: The screen is the real-time feed of a user's display. This allows admins to review a user's activity as it occurs, ensuring they stay on task and do not violate company policy.
  • Keystrokes: The keystrokes tool displays a timestamped copy of a user's keystrokes, as well as the application in which they occurred. For example, if a user types a message in Microsoft Outlook, the exact keystrokes will appear below a header that shows the date and time with the label "Microsoft Outlook."
  • Applications: The applications tab shows all the programs open on the monitored user's device. This tool shows both the program that is running and defines the window that is currently open in the program. For example, if a user has Google Chrome opened to Facebook, an admin can see clearly that the user is on social media within the browser. Admins also have the power to remotely terminate a user's session if they access a forbidden program or webpage.
  • Internet: The internet tab shows you the user's search history with a hyperlinked URL. New searches and webpages appear in real time.
  • Email: The email tab shows all email messages a user has sent or received in Microsoft Outlook. You can also view any attachments.
  • Chat: In the same way SoftActivity Monitor provides a window into a user's email conversations, it displays chats from various platforms, including social media and instant messengers.

One of the major features that sets SoftActivity Monitor apart is its video archive. Not only does this program provide administrators with a live feed for every user being monitored, but it also captures that footage and saves it in 10-minute increments on the web console. Administrators can access this footage anytime to review specific employee activities.

This is extremely useful when an employee has been repeatedly flagged and an investigation into their activity is warranted. Using the alerts and notifications, administrators can backtrack to the relevant video footage and confirm whether a user engaged in prohibited or risky behavior. The evidence can then be used to confront or discipline the employee appropriately. The web console essentially serves as a complete and varied record of all the data captured by SoftActivity Monitor's employee monitoring tools.

SoftActivity maintains a support center where you can submit a help request through a ticket system, download updates, and renew your updates and support account. Tech support also maintains an email and live chat option, so you can get simple answers more quickly. Live support can access and control your computer remotely if you need direct help. The Updates and Support plan comes with your licenses free for one year, but it must be renewed annually for 33 percent of your initial licensure cost each year after this.

SoftActivity Monitor does a great job of internet management, but its user interface is somewhat outdated and, while not difficult to learn, not as intuitive as some other leading employee monitoring software solutions. If you're looking for true ease of use, SoftActivity Monitor might disappoint at first glance. However, the minor learning curve shouldn't be too much of an obstacle to effectively using the software in the long run.

SoftActivity Monitor requires the Updates and Support plan subscription to be renewed annually at a cost of 33 percent of your original licensure costs. Without this subscription, you won't have access to technical support or software updates, requiring you to operate an outdated system without help. This is not the case with some other employee monitoring software solutions in our review; however, it is worth noting that SoftActivity Monitor does not charge an annual or monthly subscription rate for its licenses like most of its competitors do.

Ready to choose an employee monitoring software solution? Check out the rest of our coverage:

Adam C. Uzialko

Adam C. Uzialko, a New Jersey native, graduated from Rutgers University in 2014 with a degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies. In addition to his full-time position at Business News Daily and Business.com, Adam freelances for a variety of outlets. An indispensable ally of the feline race, Adam is owned by four lovely cats.