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While some people are interested in tracking how much bandwidth a person uses, most people who want to track Internet usage are more interested in the content looked at on the computer. There are many different programs available for this purpose, although all do essentially the same thing. Typically, the procedure used to track Internet usage involves installing a keystroke logger or a special program that records websites looked at on the computer. There are sometimes privacy concerns when a company uses these programs on employees without their knowledge, but this type of program is usually legal to use in homes.
For many people with simple concerns about, for example, children using the Internet, a simple keystroke logger can help track Internet usage. This type of program will record every keystroke made on the computer, which means it not only records what a person writes and searches for, but it also records passwords and user names on various sites. Unfortunately, this can be a major problem if anyone other than someone's own children uses a computer, as the passwords of adults may be recorded by the logger. Also, when a person uses the mouse to click on things online, this information is not recorded.
In order to know which websites have been visited on a computer, it is usually necessary to install a type of Internet tracking program. These are sold under many names, including nanny programs and computer monitoring programs. Many businesses where employees use computers employ this type of program to make sure that employees are actually doing work on the computers. This type of program is more reliable than simply checking the browser history, as it cannot be deleted by the user in most cases, although some savvy users may find a way around the program.
It is also sometimes possible to track Internet usage on a computer to which someone does not have regular access. This can be ideal if the computer is a work computer or is in a child's bedroom. The way this type of program works is by sending regular reports to an email address rather than requiring that a person log onto the computer to access the reports. Often, this means that monitoring can be secret as long as the person using the computer does not know much about computers.
For businesses and large corporations, personally tailored solutions can often be found. These can be fully invisible to employees and keep track of everything done on a server. At home, it is usually not as important to track Internet usage with such precision. Even knowing about websites visited and keystrokes can be enough to figure out what a person is doing online.