Parents, spouses, and bosses sometimes have worries about what others are doing on the computer and if the activity has been legitimate. Use these techniques to determine if the PC is being used for other purposes when you are not there.
For those of you that need to know what others have been using a computer for, there are various techniques to detect the history of use a PC has had. This can be of use to parents to keep track of the activity of their kids’ internet activities or business owners to ensure the activities of their employees is strictly work related. The computer activity with the most room for misuse would probably be the internet access so this article will gravitate in that direction mostly.
The first and easiest check will be to look in the browsing history of the browsers on the PC. This is a simple check and because of that is the one thing a careful internet user can cover his or her tracks on. Pressing Ctrl-H on most browsers will bring up the history. If you find it is cleared, you may have reason to continue your search since it is unusual to have this cleared unless the user is really trying to save space on his or her PC.
Next simple thing to do is to search windows using the search function (Start – Search). Search all files and folders on all drives looking for phrases you might be concerned about e.g. for pornography look for “xxx” or “sex”. This will find any traces of files saved or not cleaned out of the internet history or elsewhere.
Next search is appropriate for images, probably most useful in looking for pornography but could reveal other data. Download Picasa from Google here. Run it and have it index and search for all images on all drives. This will show you in the Picasa window, all the images it found no matter where they are on the PC.
Last tactic is the most comprehensive and will give absolute evidence of all activity on a PC is monitoring software that secretly records what is occurring on a PC showing a variety of activities such as instant messenger records, browsing history and more. Searching Google for computer monitoring software will give you a list of shareware and commercial software. One free screenshot grabber application which records pictures of the screen at time intervals I found for free is this. Commercial applications tend to be more comprehensive than this and some offer a 30 day free trial.
That’s it. Somewhere in the above list you will find out the activities on a PC when you are not there and provide full innocence or guilt of the suspected parties.