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Windows XP includes a useful utility to monitor exactly what programs are being run on your machine. It's easy to enable, and easy to see the results.

Can I monitor who's using my machine?

There are lots of tools out there that will allow you to monitor not just who's using your machine, but what they're doing, even typing, when they do. That's called spyware, and requires installing additional software to be installed to log and report the activities.

What many people don't realize is that there are some simple logging tools built into Windows XP already. They won't log keystrokes, but they will at least let you see who's logged into your machine and what programs they ran while they were there.

It's off by default, but it's easy to turn some of that logging on.

The settings are buried a little deep: Start, All Programs, Accessories, Administrative Tools, Local Security Policy. Once that's opened up, look underneath Security Settings, expand Local Policies by clicking on the boxed plus sign next to it, and then click on Audit Policy.

There are several items of interest here, but we'll focus on only three. Start by double clicking on Audit account login events. Make sure that both success and failure are checked, and press OK. Repeat for Audit logon events. Those two will log when someone logs into your computer or tries to connect to your computer via a remote share. Now repeat the process for Audit process tracking - this one will log an event each time a process (program) starts or stops.

Now close Local Security Settings.

Use the event viewer to see the results of the logging we just enabled.

Press Start, Run, and type "eventvwr". Click on the security item in the left hand pane. In the right will be a list of security events, most recent at the top. Double click on one for the details of that event. In the case of a login event, for example, you'll see the account used as well as the date and time of the event. In the case of a process event, you'll see the name of the program that was run as well as the account that started it.

Video: This short video shows the steps I've outlined above.

Article C2086 - June 26, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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17 Comments
MC
September 16, 2004 10:07 AM

I have Windows 98SE and want to know how I find out who keeps getting into my Yahoo, and Outlook Express 6 and sending out mail as me. It has to be someone I know because they got into both accounts, and I regularly change passwords. Both accounts send mail to the same names also.
I want to catch them red handed. I also suspect my daughters boyfriend is signing me up for all kind of rude sites and mail, and I would like to know if there is a way to hack his account on yahoo and change his settings so I can get a little pay back

Leo
September 16, 2004 11:31 AM

You might check this article: http://ask-leo.com/someones_sending_from_my_email_address_how_do_i_stop_them.html

Sally
January 23, 2006 2:27 AM

How can I monitor who's logging on to my hotmail account?

Leo A. Notenboom
January 23, 2006 3:04 PM

To the best of my knowledge, you cannot. If you suspect a problem, change your password.

Haydee
December 2, 2006 2:04 PM

I see a lot of internet activity on my cablemodem even when nobody is using my computer. How can I see internet traffic in my computer?

nikki
January 21, 2007 10:45 AM

how do i monitor activity on my yahoo account? like dates and times when i logged on

Robin
October 1, 2007 11:38 AM

I tried to foloow this but I dont have nothing that says administrative tools where ya said to go too. On my other comp which is a compact presario, I have a hp Web Helper Notepad, that is in my computer-cdrive. But yet I dont have it on my emachine one. It helps me to keep track of where my kids are going on internet and shows all pages visited and what it was they visited. Am trying to find same thing for my emachine as well, that I can personally put in and use same way without haveing to buy something in its place I really like it can you help me to find same thing for the emachine?

Rita Fulton
October 21, 2008 9:22 AM

I see how to turn on the audit logon events but this doesn't seem to be an option in Windows XP Home. Do you know if it is possible to audit logons in the home edition? thanks, rita

Deepak
March 18, 2009 5:13 AM

Thanks for the tip on activating the logs for remote logins to my PC. I will start monitoring now. hope this will show all the programs like intelliviewer and mstsc.

What i need to know is that you said abt some spyware that will help monitoring remote logins. can u name some safe ones.. i dont want it to be a nuisence after installing for a cause.

Mel
May 20, 2009 8:33 AM

If it is not in your accessories folder, go to control panel, performance and maintenance. You will then be able to find Local Security Policy shortcut.

misty
June 5, 2009 7:05 AM

someone comes in my house and uses my comp can i find out whom

Alan
June 16, 2009 8:49 AM

Leo

As a past writers mentioned on XP Home the Local Security Policy is not on either the Control Panel or on Administrative Tools. Under Administrative Tools you do have Computer Management. How do I install or activate the Local Security Policy? Also how do I activate WMI Control which does not show any information on its screen.

saddy
June 29, 2009 7:52 AM

i was just curious i can see what time my computer was logged on but what i would like to know is what time they logged off.

Paris
August 30, 2009 7:22 AM

Don't you have to be an admin to do that? Running as an admin isn't really recommended, is it?

dawn
September 28, 2009 8:46 AM

Someone is using my computor vista and I am afraid they will put a virus on my computor and I have some work info on here how do I find out all the names using my computor

pat kucey
July 5, 2010 8:58 PM

how do I find Local Security Policy//

Dana
May 18, 2011 10:22 AM

Yes you can with special software.
I'm Mac user and have Logon Sentry - special software which monitors all logon times.

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