DeskTime Review

Daniel Rosehill

In a Nutshell

Struggling to make sense of whether your remote team is working hard or hardly working? DeskTime takes the guesswork out of figuring out what’s going on within your organization. The program is installed on workers’ computers with reports visible from an online administrator dashboard. Capabilities include automatic screenshotting, time logging, and URL tracking.

pros

  • Tracking tools for every major operating system
  • Automatic screenshot capturing
  • Intelligent categorization of browsing activities

cons

  • Remote workers can find it intrusive
  • Free trial supports one user only

Desktime at a Glance

Best for 
Companies that need to roll out remote monitoring for large workforces
Price
Pro plan costs $95 per year
File Sharing
No
Real-time Chat 
No
Security 
HTTPS

What Services and Features Does Desktime Offer 

Desktime supports remote monitoring for both individuals that wish to track their own internet usage and companies that need to roll out required remote activity monitoring for distributed workforces or individual remote workers.

Time Tracking 

DeskTime’s primary feature is to track the time that registered users are logged into their computers for work purposes. Users’ full browsing history is automatically logged and categorized based upon its estimated intent. For instance, DeskTime automatically categorizes sites as productive or leisure-focused in nature, although these settings can be changed. The captured data is presented as metrics such as product time, Desktime time (total time logged into the system) and productive time. The system also gives users a productivity score, which is calculated as a percentage, and calculates the amount of time they were detected to spend on “unproductive” activities.

Because Desktime runs as a background software, it is capable of capturing all users’ computer activity including non-internet related activity. The tracking tool also calculates the time that users spent on certain apps and also categorizes these according to their estimated productivity.  The software can also keep track of when users are actually using their machines. If no mouse movements are logged for more than 3 minutes, then DeskTime goes into idle mode and stops tracking time.

Document Tracking

Desktime can track and parse elements of documents that users are working on and actually integrates these into the management reports—so HR and management teams can not only see that employees were working in Microsoft Word, for instance, but even what document they were working on, for how long, and when. It can also detect email subject lines and chat group names—although it cannot pick up their content.

Document tracking works with:

  • Design programs such as Adobe Illustrator
  • Email service providers like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo
  • Collaboration software like Slack and Skype

The document tracking functionality is popular with marketing agencies and freelancers who might need to see how much time was spent on each client for billing purposes. 

Automatic Screenshots 

Desktime also supports automatic screenshots. This takes a screenshot of the user’s computer at a predefined interval. This feature can be used to clamp down on workers suspected of engaging in non productive work during time they are supposed to be working. Desktime has defined a series of best practices for responsible use of its tool’s functionalities. It recommends, for instance, that administrative users inform employees when screenshotting is being used.

Pomodor Timer

Desktime also has a one-person tier and can be used by freelancers or individual users both for billing their own clients and for improving their own productivity. One of the features designed to support this use case is the Pomodoro timer. The Pomodoro technique encourages users to take periodic breaks after working for fixed intervals. The timer can be configured to remind users to take a break after 52, 60, or 90 minute intervals. 

Private Time Option

Employees don’t have to feel compelled to be tracked all the time. There’s a private time option which will completely disable the tracking. Of course, whether this feature will be allowed is up to the individual company. But it gives users reassurance that they can enter into private time mode any time in order to stop having their activity logged.

Prices, Plans and Value for Money 

Desktime is available as a free tier for one user only which supports automatic time tracking, app tracking, and a mobile app. However for companies that want to roll out the tool to track entire groups of employees, one of the 3 paid plans is necessary. All plans deliver value for money given that they are not priced for each user but rather according to the maximum number of users which they support. By increasing the desired user base to 100, for instance, I received the following quotes:

Tier
Pro
Premium
Enterprise
Price
$420 per month
$546 per month
$840 per month
Users
Up to 100
Up to 100
Up to 100

The Pro tier supports automatic time tracking, URL and app tracking, idle time tracking, project time tracking, and a productivity calculator. On the Premium tier, users receive automatic screenshots, an absence calendar, shift scheduling and other features. On the top Enterprise tier users get all Premium features and also receive:

  • VIP support
  • A personalized onboarding
  • Unlimited projects and tasks
  • Unlimited data history
  • Custom API functions

Ease of Use and Setup

After signing up for the product’s free trial, I was prompted to install the tracking client for my automatically detected operating system (Linux). After proceeding with the installation of the .deb file the program was installed. DeskTime installs itself primarily as a program contained in the notification area. I was able to logout and quick the tool. I could also put myself into private time by clicking a button, set myself break reminders, and disable starting the program automatically on system boot. 

Desktime Customer Service

Desktime’s customer support can be reached by email, through social media (Facebook, LinkedIn,  Twitter) and by live chat. Additionally the company:

  • Maintains an online library of FAQs
  • Allows users to request (paid) in-office trainings
  • Puts on a series of webinars

Whether users need to quickly resolve a bug installing the program on Windows or need education about how to use the tool as effectively as possible, the Desktime team ticks all the boxes.

What People Say About Desktime

“Through DeskTime, we aim to increase consistency, productivity, opportunities and skills of our employees.”

Sanjay Shah, Digital Marketing Manager, Excellent Web World

“If used correctly, time tracking puts the power in people.”

Raisul Kabir, CEO, Brain Station 23

“On DeskTime, we can quickly check each employee's productivity. Like how much time they've actually spent working during the day.”

Vinay Krishna Gupta, Co-Founder, Antino Labs

FAQs

How many users are supported on the free tier?

Only one 

What other programs does Desktime integrate with?

Trello, Basecamp, and Jira among others.

Where is Desktime based?

The company’s head office is located in California, USA.

Bottom Line

Desktime is a complex time tracking and employee monitoring software that is capable of scaling up to enterprise levels of scale. The tool features automatic screenshotting, documenting tracking, and productivity estimating. For teams monitoring distributed workforces that want to keep close tabs on what their remote workers are up to, this is a justifiably popular tool.

Daniel Rosehill is a technology writer and reviewer whose experience includes leading marketing communications strategies at 2 SaaS companies. His interests include backups and disaster recovery, Linux and open source, and cloud computing.

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