Measuring employees’ performance and tracking their computer activity isn’t just a privilege of big corporations. An increasing number of small businesses is choosing to implement some form of employee tracking solution.
However, unlike many enterprises, smaller companies usually don’t have huge budgets to allocate to business optimization, which is why it’s especially important for them to find the right software that’s also affordable. In order to do this, it’s critical that you take several things into consideration, such as the features that the best time tracking software for your needs should have, the number of employees at your company, and your overall organization.
Luckily for you and for your budget, there are quite a few free work time tracker and employee monitoring solutions and some freemium versions of the more advanced systems. And another piece of good news is that we’ve compiled a list of top 10 best free PC monitoring software on the market so that you can easily compare them and decide which one could be the best fit for your small business.
Hubstaff is probably the most popular among time tracking and employee monitoring candidates and it offers a freemium user plan. This free work hours tracker version offers basic functionalities along with some more advanced ones like activity levels, screenshots and payments. The last two, however, aren't unlimited.
They do offer extra features at an additional cost, which are supposed to give you more control over individual settings, scheduling, budgeting, etc. The biggest disadvantage of this free project time tracking system, as we've mentioned, is that it’s restricted to only one user and you’ll have to pay for additional ones.
Toggl is one of the most popular tracking software out there and it also offers free time tracker Mac, Windows and Linux versions, which is among the most all-encompassing compatibility we’ve seen. For free, you can get a basic plan with simple time tracking functionalities, reporting and project timelines. However, this free plan is limited to only five users.
In addition, if you want some of its more advanced features like reminders, customization and priority support, you’ll have to upgrade to one of its paid plans. On the flip side, Toggl does offer a 30-day computer tracking software free trial, which is one of the longest trial periods we’ve come across.
As another one of the more popular solutions, ActivTrak has a freemium version for an unlimited period of time. Just like Toggl, the compatibility with different operating systems is pretty decent - you get employee monitoring software free download for Windows, Mac, Android, etc. The biggest limit with this solution is the fact that the freemium version can only support up to three users and you get 3 GB of storage, which isn’t optimal if you want historical data and are planning on growing your small team.
On the other hand, ActivTrak’s freemium version is one of the rare options at your disposal if you want real screen monitoring software free of charge (which is, again, limited to just one screenshot) or some of the more advanced features like website blocking, scheduled monitoring and group reporting.
Kickidler is another employee monitoring system that offers a freemium version apart from its regular paid plan. Just like with most platforms, there are a couple of limitations if you choose the free version. First of all, you only get to monitor up to six employees. Secondly, even though Kickidler boasts the screen video recording feature, this functionality is reserved for the paying customers, so screen monitoring software free download is unfortunately out of the question.
On the other hand, there are a couple of important plus points for this PC monitoring software free version. For instance, you can get a keylogger. Admittedly, it’s only in real time and you don’t get historical data, but it’s still something not many companies are prepared to offer. Also, Kickidler has multilingual support, which is, again, a rarity.
TimeCamp also has regular paid plans apart from a free version and you can use this free software to monitor computer activity and track time but only for a single person. On top of this, it only consists of the most basic time tracking functionality. Having said that, the free version of TimeCamp is really more of a personal time tracker than a fully-functional business solution.
If this time tracker free download isn’t going to cut it for your team, you can upgrade to a paid version and get more users and more features, such as integrations, billable time, screenshots and so on.
DeskTime is a paid service that offers a freemium version called DeskTime Lite. But just like TimeCamp, this free version can only be used for one person. Still, it does seem to have a couple more functionalities, like app tracking. Paid plan offers a lot more features, like reports, URL tracking, data history, screenshots, premium support, etc.
An interesting thing about DeskTime is that, apart from the free time tracking app Mac, Windows and Linux versions, it also offers a mobile app for free, which is great for access flexibility in case you’re working remotely or on the field.
As stated on their website, Paymo as a laptop monitoring software free version is ‘ideal for freelancers’. This is mainly because, not surprisingly, it’s limited to one user. This free plan does offer a variety of features, like Kanban boards, time tracking, reports and even creating up to three invoices. So, if your small business hires freelancers and your priority is to help them organize their time rather than for you to monitor them, Paymo’s free plan could be a sufficiently good solution.
What you don’t get with this employee monitor free download, apart from the ability to track more employees, are features such as automatic time tracking, analytics, file sharing, integrations, dedicated support and other useful perks which you need to upgrade for.
RescueTime is another popular time tracker for employees. Its Lite version is free for an unlimited time but, like the previous two software, it’s meant for individual use only. It tracks time on sites and in apps, and your employees can set goals and track their progress. With the free version, however, all of this historical data is limited to three months.
If, however, you want an overview of your entire team and a tool to analyze their productivity and processes, you’ll have to upgrade to a Premium version.
9. When I Work
When I Work offers a mobile and desktop monitoring software free version that places a special emphasis on attendance tracking and sheets. It’s a pretty good solution for a small business, as it can support one team, not just one user. The limitation is in the fact that you can only use it in one location, so if you have branching offices or are planning to expand, you might have to purchase the Basic version.
Even though it’s not exactly a full-fledged free time tracker with screenshots and other fancy features, this free software still offers a variety of attendance-related functionalities, such as mobile clock-in, clock-out reminders, workplace geofencing, and payroll integration.
Finally, one more pretty solid time tracker for your employees is Harvest. But again, its free version can only support one user and two projects, which is quite limiting for a small business but could be a good introduction to the time tracking world.
The good thing about Harvest is that all of the features are accessible in the free version. This includes reporting, invoices, expense tracking, integrations, phone and email support, etc. And it has a 30-day free trial of the Pro version which will be more than enough for you to see whether the software is suitable for your team.
And that’s it - the list of ten best free solutions for tracking time and monitoring your employees for your small business! Of course, this list could be expanded, but these reviews should be enough to get you started in your search. The most important thing is to evaluate the size and distribution of your team, think about what you want to track and which features you’re going to need, and be aware of the limitations that your chosen computer monitoring freeware might have.
If, however, none of these systems fit your needs and if you want a solution for a bigger team or you simply want some room to grow, we encourage you to consider upgrading to one of the more advanced options. You might have to pay, but you’ll get unlimited capabilities and a lot more features. With that, the investment is bound to return.