What Is a Keylogger?
A keylogger is a tool used for recording all the keys that a computer user presses, usually in secret, so that the monitored person didn’t know that they are being tracked. A keylogger is short for keystroke logger and is also known as a keyboard capturer and keylogging software. Keyloggers record everything the user types — logins and passwords, personal messages on social apps, and even financial data. The user operating keylogging software then retrieves the recorded data. It isn’t easy to detect a keylogger since it runs invisibly on the target device, meaning that computer users don’t guess that a keylogger is installed on their computer.
Software-based keyloggers aren’t the only option available if you need to know what was typed on the PC. Some keyloggers come in a hardware format, but they are not so widely used because they’re visible. Such formats need to be physically connected to the device, often through the USB port, which means that they are easily detected and removed by computer users.
Things You Should Know About Keyloggers
Keyloggers are not dangerous for the target devices by themselves. They don’t influence the operating system performance and don’t block or remove vitally important data from the desktop. Keylogging software is frequently used for employee monitoring and parental control purposes. However, hackers can also use it to leak the victim’s personal and financial data, which can lead to financial losses and other unwanted consequences. Thus, it’s essential to periodically check your device for installed software and ensure that nobody’s tracking you.
To prevent accidental installation of a keylogger on your device, avoid opening emails from strangers and visiting unsafe websites. Consider installing anti-virus software on your device and setting two-factor authentication (2fa) to access your social networks accounts. A virtual keyboard is also helpful when you suspect that a keylogger is installed on the device. However, there are keylogging programs on the market today that can easily bypass anti-virus software and other protection; some of them will be described below.
Are Keyloggers Legal?
Keyloggers are perfectly legal and useful, especially when using such software for parental control or employee monitoring. But note that you should have admin rights to install a keylogging program on somebody’s device. Legal keyloggers can’t be installed remotely, i.e. you should always have access to the device that you are tracking.
Many employers set up keyloggers to control their staff members’ activity at work. Monitoring software can help reduce time wastage and boost employees’ performance. Keyloggers can also be very handy when you need to protect your corporate data and gather evidence for your company's legal protection.
Besides, keyloggers are very helpful when it comes to kids’ monitoring. Good monitoring software can solve many problems at once: you’ll protect your kids from online bullying, manage their time and block unwanted websites. Keyloggers are often used by parents who want to make sure that their kids stay safe on the internet since there are many predators online. Besides that, they can be used to study human-computer interaction.
If you are a parent worried about your kids’ safety on the Net or an employer wanting to boost your staff’s efficiency, then you’ve come to the right place. I have tried out several free keyloggers available online today and figured out that Spyrix Free Keylogger and KidInspector are the best software in this category when it comes to the features. Keep on reading for a comprehensive review of 10 of the best keyloggers available to download free of charge, and, hopefully, you will find the right one that best meets your needs.
Spyrix is the best keylogger for Windows in 2021. The program controls and records every single keystroke. Though there is a premium version available, the free version offers so many features that it has proven itself very helpful. This software includes full remote cloud monitoring free of charge. Remote monitoring lets you control any computer activity wherever you’re located, meaning that you don’t need to access the target computer after you install the software. Everything you need to do is to log into your online account using any browser and any device.
Besides recording every single keystroke, it makes screenshots of all active windows. In other words, whenever you change a window, e.g. from your browser to any other program, a screenshot is taken. This way, no activity ever goes unnoticed, and you can see all visited websites and URLs, read all chats and messages, and all social media activity. All keystrokes and screenshots can then be viewed on a secure web account. Spyrix Free Keylogger can also make and send reports of running programs.
Further, the software offers password protection. In fact, it is so well hidden that it is undetectable to antivirus software. This makes it perfect for not only parental control but also employee monitoring. Extra features include a user-friendly interface and quick and easy installation. You don’t need to be tech-savvy to use this software. So, if you have never used a keylogger before, Spyrix is an excellent program to start with.
As the name suggests, this software is designed for parental monitoring of children’s activity on smart devices and computers. In fact, KidInspector can be used by anyone who wants to track somebody’s computer activity. KidInspector records all keystrokes, including deleted ones. In addition to the keylogging features, the software monitors social apps enabling you to read kids’ chats and messages on Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, etc.
With KidInspector, your child will be definitely safe online as the program controls any Internet activity with visited websites, browsing history (even if it has been removed), and search queries. The soft is also helpful when you need to block some URLs or websites with inappropriate content so that your child couldn’t access them. KidInspector may turn your kids’ computer into a surveillance device if you enable secret recording via webcam and microphone. The software is not detected by most popular antivirus programs and offers a hidden mode which makes the keylogger invisible on children’s devices.
All recorded data is uploaded to KidInspector online account and can be viewed anytime from any place and any device. KidInspector is available for Android, iOS, Mac OS, and Windows, thus tackling all the main issues concerning a child’s activity on any smart device or a computer.
Actual Keylogger is very popular among parents due to its good reputation that it has enjoyed over the years. One of the biggest advantages of the keylogger is its stealth mode making it impossible for a user to find it in the Added and Removed Programs, Explorer or Task Manager. The software records all pressed keys, running and closed programs, visited websites, and controls all print, clipboard, and screenshot activity. If you want to protect the recorded files, you can set up a secure password to make the soft visible.
Actual Keylogger can send you a report about the user’s computer activity by e-mail, FTP, or local area network. The installation process is pretty easy and intuitive. The latest version of the soft allows remote monitoring through an online account. Actual Keylogger is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems.
REFOG’s free keylogger has the most basic features, but it’s unbelievably easy to install and use. According to the developers, you don’t need a computer science degree to configure and operate this soft. This keylogger also allows remote control via an online account, making it convenient to track kids whenever you want.
The soft tracks all websites visited by a computer user, all chats and messengers, all typed keys (even passwords if they’ve been typed in). Besides, it records activities on all online and offline applications. Like other most popular keyloggers, REFOG offers invisible mode. The program runs silently so that your target wouldn’t notice that you spy on them. The soft will be helpful for both Windows and Mac OS users.
The keylogger will perfectly meet all your needs if you need reliable monitoring software either for business or home. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the list of the features this tracking software offers in its free version:
- remote control (the reports are delivered by email, FTP, Dropbox, or LAN folder);
- website blocking;
- keystrokes recording;
- used applications;
- activities on social networks;
- setting alerts etc.
For employee monitoring, the keylogger offers extra tools such as collecting statistics, time control, and many more. The detailed reports let you check a particular user’s activity as well as general statistics.
KidLogger has become a very popular keylogger among parents, thanks to its user-friendly simplicity. The software allows parental control on Android, Windows, and Mac OS devices. The features included in the free version for Windows are tracking online activities in Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Google Chrome; limited screenshots capturing (10 screenshots a day);
webcam snapshots taken at startup (also limited to 10 a day); screenshots capturing and Skype chat tracking. With the free keylogger's help, you can simultaneously track up to 5 different devices and keep log history for 9 days. As you see, KidLogger is surely a good keylogger for parental control with plenty of helpful features, though some of the features are limited in the free version.
The keylogger offers both free and paid versions, which slightly differ in features. Actually, the free version will meet all your needs if you’re looking for a good and intuitive keylogger for computer monitoring. The software's major features include keystrokes logging, clipboard events monitoring, screenshots capture, and tracking of Internet activity and all running apps. The software can uninstall and clear the recorded logs remotely.
However, the number of screenshots is limited in the free version to 10 pics a day. The free version doesn’t allow you remote monitoring, meaning that log delivery via email, FTP, LAN, USB is available only in the PRO version. Good news for those who think about purchasing the PRO keylogger — the license doesn’t have an expiration date, so you need to pay only once.
Revealer Keylogger may be too basic software, but it’s a quite useful and user-friendly program offering enough features to satisfy parents’ monitoring needs. Though the soft only tracks pressed keys and the apps where keys were typed in, it does a good job of that. Keylogging feature records texts, chats, logins, and passwords. The software can monitor conversations over Facebook, Skype, and other social apps.
Password protection is offered to prevent other users from opening it. Thanks to its hidden mode feature, it doesn’t show up in either the Add/Remove Programs or the Taskbar. Extra security is provided through automatic log clean-ups. It also doesn’t slow down the computer, often a tell-tale sign that someone has installed a keylogger on your computer. The keylogger is also available on CNET with verified users’ reviews and ratings.
Ardamax is another free keylogger that makes this list. It operates silently in the background, spying on every keystroke and saving all data to a reliably encrypted file accessible only to the admin. A log file may be viewed either as a text or as a web page. Its keystroke logging records all typed keystrokes, hidden characters, and credentials. Chat monitoring is another offered feature, meaning that all messages sent and received via various chat programs are monitored and recorded.
The soft also captures periodic screenshots letting you track any computer activity. Moreover, you can record videos via webcam and audio via a computer microphone silently. In addition to all these features, Ardamax developers offer remote monitoring via email, meaning that recorded files are periodically sent to your email address. The keylogger is always up-to-date as it’s compatible with all the latest Windows versions. The only drawback, though — the log files aren’t all that easy to read.
Basic Key Logger is software written in python, a widely-used high-level programming language for general-purpose programming and a design philosophy that emphasizes code readability. The software records keyboard and mouse events, offers an invisible icon, though the app is always visible in Task Manager. Despite the fact this keylogger is limited in features, it’s rather helpful when you need to track somebody’s outgoing messages or search queries.
How to Choose the Best Keylogger?
As you see, there’s plenty of free keyloggers with an abundance of useful features both for employee monitoring and parental control.
Some keyloggers such as Spyrix Free Keylogger and KidInspector have no limits on the number of screenshots or clipboard events and allow remote control via a secure web account. Such free keyloggers are perfect for simple parental control of 1 device and employee monitoring, requiring remote tracking of dozens of devices. Other programs may offer some limits or contain only basic keylogging features. I recommend you try out the apps from this list one by one and check which one fits all your needs.