Consolidating application sessions through terminal sessions provides many benefits. Traditional keystroke logging and Internet monitoring is problematic in a terminal services environment. What to do? Likewise, administrators need organized, centralized storage of the recorded sessions and access logs, as well as private secure storage for the recorded and logged content. Deep Software is introducing SoftActivity TS Monitor to solve these problems.
Features (5 out of 5)
SoftActivity TS Monitor supports Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Citrix XenApp, MetaFrame, and Presentation server. It can also record RemoteApps hosted on Windows Server 2008. Although I could not test the recording of other languages with special characters or different character sets, SoftActivity TS Monitor provides this feature, recording languages “including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Russian”, or any Unicode character set.
Logging and reporting includes advanced features such as capturing the duration spent running every program, the duration of stay on every web page, and screenshots capturing graphics present on web pages. Reports show the top applications used, and the top web sites visited, along with total time spent by website. User accounts can be excluded from monitoring (such as Administrator or manager accounts). I felt this feature was potentially dangerous or possibly subject to abuse, but I understand the reasons for it.
Performance & Administration (4 out of 5)
Considering its robust feature set, SoftActivity TS Monitor is a small and unobtrusive application. The only space considerations I could see would be the need for substantial space for the database and recordings in a high usage, high session traffic environment. The service cannot be seen by users in recorded sessions. It has no icons in the task bar, no messages, no icons present, nor windows open. It does not show up and cannot be terminated from task manager in user remote sessions. It is possible to show a message to users on login notifying them that the session is being monitored.
Overall (4 out of 5)
I was impressed with both the concept and thorough implementation of all the required features for effective terminal services monitoring. The program’s focus on secure handling of the recorded sessions and the implementation of security features was likewise well thought out and well implemented. Not every administrator of remote desktop or terminal services systems, even those administrators who use remote session computing primarily, will need or desire such a thorough monitoring and logging solution. If you do, this is a solid implementation that you should check out and test for your needs.
SoftActivity.com also offers keystroke logging programs and computer network usage monitoring software. The programs are marketed toward parents or school administrators respectively. See softactivity.com for more information.