Despite the popular belief that keyloggers are destructive and serve for hacking purposes only, it is not so black-and-white in reality. Let’s look at what a keylogger is and how it can be helpful in your everyday life.
So, What is a Keylogger?
A keylogger, also known as a keystrokes logger or keyboard capturer, is software that records what keys the user presses. Logging keystrokes is not limited to texts and messages on social media — the program can record search queries logins, passwords and even financial details. Then the keylogger either sends the recorded data over the Internet or stores it until the operator retrieves the log. More often than not, such software works secretly, and the user does not know that their activity is tracked. The hidden mode and the small footprint make it even harder to detect or suspect a keylogger.
Besides software keyloggers, there are hardware ones. Hardware keyloggers are much less widespread, mainly due to their visibility — the device is usually plugged in a USB port of the computer or a laptop. It means that the user can easily detect and remove a suspicious thing.
Are Keyloggers Dangerous?
Keyloggers are not dangerous by themselves. They do not harm the computer by influencing its performance, blocking the system, infecting or removing vital information as viruses do. Moreover, keyloggers have a practical purpose — they are perfect tools for parental and employee monitoring. In today’s COVID reality employee monitoring is a serious concern for many business owners. Keyloggers are a great way to ensure that your teleworkers stay productive. Unfortunately, hackers can also keylogger software to gather personal information or bank details and use it for blackmailing, stealing money from your account or worse. Considering this, you should regularly check your devices for any suspicious installed software to prevent personal data leakages.
Another effective tip for cybersecurity is to avoid unsafe websites or unknown links. If someone sends you a file or an image, ensure you know and trust the sender before opening it. It only takes a few moments but is the best way to avoid accidental installation of malware keyloggers.
Consider setting two-factor authentication for your email, social networks, bank and other accounts. It will prevent unauthorized access to them. If you suspect a keylogger is on your device, you can use a virtual keyboard until you detect it.
Keep your operating system and applications updated — the latest updates often include security improvements against the newest threats.
Installing an antivirus or anti-keylogger software is also a great protection measure, though some keyloggers can bypass such software. We will list some of them below.
Are Keyloggers Illegal?
There is nothing illegal about keyloggers if you keep the following points in mind. First, keyloggers can be used legally for monitoring a device you own or have admin access to (and the owner’s permission!). Besides, legislation in many countries requires you to inform the person who uses the computer that their activity is monitored.
Second, legal keyloggers cannot be installed remotely via an email attachment, image, etc. You should have access to the computer you are tracking to install the legal software.
Many employers resort to keyloggers as employee monitoring tools. Such software comes in truly handy here as it allows to collect detailed data about the work process and thus improve it. Reducing idle time, boosting performance, preventing burnouts are only a few such improvements. One more important benefit of using a keylogger for business is data protection. Only a few keyloggers have actual DLP functionality; however, any keylogger may gather evidence of data leakage and point to the culprit.
Another popular reason for using keyloggers is parental monitoring. A fully featured keylogger will not only let you see what your kid types in a chat, but who they talk to, what websites they visit, what games they play and more. You can even block access to certain sites and apps if you believe they are harmful to your child. The Internet poses many threats to kids apart from improper information — unfortunately, cyberbullying and grooming are often cases. A keylogger will let you detect inappropriate behaviours and nip them in the bud.
So, if you are a worried parent or employer seeking to improve productivity in the office, keyloggers are your solution. I have tested some of the free keyloggers available online, and Spyrix Free Keylogger and KidInspector are definitely my favourites when it comes to features. Keep on reading for the list of 10 best keyloggers available free of charge.
Spyrix Free Keylogger can be rightfully called the best keylogger for Windows in 2022. Its wide functionality allows you to control almost all of the user’s actions on the computer. It is not just another keylogger tracking only what the user types. The program takes screenshots every time the user opens a program, enters a website or copies something to the clipboard. This way you will be able to see their full Internet history and other activities. What is more, the program reports what programs are installed on the monitored computer, which of them are running and when they were started and stopped. Spyrix also tracks when the computer is turned on and off and how much time the user is active. It may be helpful for employers who need to assess employees’ work time and detect habitual latecomers and early leavers.
If you think that keyloggers are only for some tech gurus, Spyrix Free Keylogger will prove you wrong. The program installs literally in a few clicks and requires zero special knowledge to operate. It works on all Windows systems from Windows XP and above, including the latest Windows 11.
Although Spyrix Free Keylogger does not have a hidden mode, it is password-protected. You may not worry that someone accesses the program and mess up the settings. You can also manage the settings remotely via the convenient online dashboard. The dashboard also gives you access to all the collected logs, so you don’t need to log in to the computer you monitor to get the data.
Considering all the above, Spyrix Free Keylogger is really the best in terms of functionality and availability.
Although KidInspector’s ultimate purpose is parental monitoring, anyone who needs to track somebody’s computer activity will find it handy.
KidInspector can record all keystrokes even if they were deleted. More than that, the program can take screenshots, monitor running applications and printer activity, track the clipboard and more.
KidInspector helps you to ensure that your child is safe online. The software gathers data about their online activity: their search queries, complete browsing history (even if they clear it!), what they chat about on social media and messengers, and who they talk to. It can block sites with inappropriate content so that your child cannot access them.
You can go even further and turn your child’s device into a surveillance system that will record sound and video from the webcam. No worries, it will not give you out — the program works in the hidden mode and is almost invisible on the device.
Like Spyrix, KidInspector uploads all collected data to the online account on which you can view it at any time and from any device. You can also configure the monitoring settings remotely, adjusting them depending on your needs.
KidInspector offers solutions for Windows (including the latest Windows 11), Mac OS, Android and iOS. So, you can always keep an eye on your child, no matter what device they use.
Actual Keylogger enjoys a good reputation among parents and employers, but its use is not limited to these spheres. Anyone who wants to monitor their computer will be pleasantly surprised by its functionality. One of the main benefits of the program is the hidden mode. The program does not show in the list of installed programs, the start menu or the system tray, making it impossible to detect the software.
Actual Keylogger offers comprehensive monitoring of activity on the computer: from logging keystrokes to social media activity, printer control and taking screenshots. You can view the reports directly in the program on the monitored computer or receive them remotely by email, FTP, LAN or via the online dashboard. You can set up a password to open the program to protect it from unauthorized access.
Like the software mentioned above, Actual Keylogger is super easy to install and user friendly. The program works on both Mac OS and Windows (including the latest Windows 11).
#4 Iwantsoft Free Keylogger
A solid and reliable tool, Iwantsoft Free Keylogger is suitable for both business and personal purposes of monitoring. The program works discreetly in the background and opens only with a secret key known only to the owner. This way it remains invisible to the user. Password protection offers another layer of security.
Iwantsoft Free Keylogger tracks keystrokes, applications, visited websites, social media and messenger activity, email attachments, files uploaded to the Internet and more. The program has an app and website blocker that will prevent the user from accessing unwanted sites or apps and alert you if they try to.
The convenient in-built data viewer allows you to check the collected data and statistics in the app. There are also a few options to receive logs remotely, such as email or FTP.
#5 Real PC Spy
Real PC Spy is another solid keylogger with all the functionality you may need to monitor someone’s activity on the PC. Like a real spy, the program tracks every keystroke, application, clipboard and more. Peculiar features about Real PC Spy are recording the contents of emails from popular email clients and copying texts of opened doc and txt files. The software stores all data in encrypted files which can be viewed either in the program itself or delivered to your email or FTP.
The free version does not have the hidden mode, though. If this does not bother you, you will definitely like how convenient and simple it is to use Real PC Spy.
#6 REFOG Free Keylogger
REFOG Free Keylogger is an excellent solution for parents concerned about their children’s online safety.
The software focuses on logging the Internet activity, such as tracking visited websites, capturing messages in social media chats and messengers, taking screenshots and logging keystrokes.
REFOG runs in stealth mode and is invisible to the user like many similar popular solutions. Besides, it is incredibly easy to install and use.
REFOG Free Keylogger is available for both Windows and Mac OS.
#7 Free Keylogger for Parents
HeavenWard’s Free Keylogger is another great solution for monitoring kids (or anyone you wish to spy on). The software has the only basic functionality that includes keylogging (obviously) in all applications and web pages, monitoring all users of the computer and the hidden mode. The program is password-protected, so only you can access the settings. Free Keylogger delivers reports by email, and these archives are also password-protected. It is a great additional security measure relieving you from the fear of putting personal data at risk. The delivery options are agile, allowing you to choose intervals when to receive logs.
The program installs in just a few clicks and has a very plain interface. So, even if everything you know about computers is only how to turn them off and on, you can operate Free Keylogger effortlessly. The software is compatible with Windows XP and above.
#8 Best Free Keylogger
Best Free Keylogger is available in two options — free and premium. The free version is quite enough if you look for software for general monitoring. The toolset of Best Free Keylogger includes logging keystrokes, clipboard, Internet activity, tracking running apps and screenshots capture. The free version can take no more than ten pics a day compared to unlimited screenshots in the premium version. Also, there is no remote monitoring in the free version — log delivery by email, FTP, LAN is limited to the premium version only. If you are willing to through in a few bucks to get extra features, the good news is that the subscription is lifetime, meaning that you pay only once.
#9 Revealer Keylogger Free
Revealer Keylogger Free offers the most basic functionality compared to the programs at the top of this list. The program is a simple keylogger with a screenshot feature and the ability to receive logs remotely. The keylogger captures all keystrokes and the apps they were pressed in, so you can effectively capture texts, chats, logins and passwords. Screenshots provide additional visual support to the recorded text data.
The limited functionality turns out to be an unexpected advantage. The program does not require many computer resources or slow it down, which are often tell-tale signs that a keylogger is running on your PC. Thanks to the hidden mode, the software is not visible in the Task Manager, Add/Remove Programs or the Taskbar. Besides, the program clears logs automatically from time to time, which is a good additional security measure.
#10 Ardamax Keylogger
Ardamax Keylogger is another simple tool that has everything you need to spy on the computer. The program can log all keystrokes, hidden characters and login details. Another feature is chat monitoring — Ardamax Keylogger tracks all incoming and outgoing messages in various messengers. The software also takes regular screenshots adding visual information to the text data. Moreover, the program allows you to record videos and audio clips from the webcam stealthily. The collected data are stored as encrypted files and sent by email periodically, but they may not be that easy to read.
How to Choose the Best Keylogger?
Keyloggers mentioned above are only a few of the many available on the market today. So how do you navigate through this abundance?
My advice would be to decide on the purpose of the monitoring and what activity you wish to monitor. Software such as Spyrix Free Keylogger has no limits in monitoring features and offers a convenient remote monitoring option. These programs are suitable for general monitoring of any purpose: be it parental or employee monitoring. Others may offer only the basic features or have many limitations. I recommend you try the apps from this list to see which works best for your needs.