SoftPerfect File Access Monitor used to cost US$149, but SoftPerfect is now giving it away for free. So it could be worth a look if you need a way to track hard drive activity on a Windows-based computer.
The program allows you to log and filter all the file system activity on a PC, including file creations, reads, writes and deletions.
Setup requires installing a service on your system. This isn’t as convenient as portable products, but does deliver more reliable results, and allows logging more of what’s happening as Windows boots.
Using a service to log activity means there’s no tell-tale program window or system tray icon, which is handy if you want to secretly monitor the system.
Reports are easy to understand, even for non-technical users. Hitting “Chronological” displays a list of recent file system actions in time order, and color-coding allows you to find key events – file creates, deletes – in seconds.
There could still be thousands of events to explore, but simple filtering will help you tune out the noise. In a click or two you’re able to view operations of a specific type (create, read, write, delete, move and more), by a specific user or process, or within a particular time frame.
Alternatively, you can set up the program to log only the data you need. If you’re looking for ransomware, for instance, you might monitor reads, writes and deletes of common data file types in your documents folders.
Whatever you’re logging, a simple report manager automatically generates reports every hour, day, week or month. These can be saved to files or sent by email, which again could be handy for stealthy monitoring of user actions.
A simple database manager completes the package by automatically purging old records, and keeping any drive space used to the absolute minimum.
Overall, SoftPerfect File Access Monitor can’t compete with something like Sysinternals Process Monitor for low-level power, but its service-based logging and general ease of use make it a good choice for simple file logging tasks.
SoftPerfect File Access Monitor is available now for Windows XP or later, or Windows Server 2003 or later.
This article originally appeared at softwarecrew.co.uk