Monitoring your users’ Internet activity is an often unwelcome part of an IT professional’s job. Few of us want to be the office’s secret police. However, many companies require some level of Internet monitoring to ensure compliance with usage policies and to track problem users.If monitoring software is too costly for your IT department’s budget, you may want to consider a technique that uses existing Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 functionality. In this IT Dojo video, I demonstrate a simple monitoring solution that uses Windows Server 2003 Group Policy.

Before watching the video, you should realize this tip isn’t right for every situation. This method uses Windows XP and Internet Explorer’s local browsing history. To view the history files, you must physically visit each machine, remotely access the machine, or copy the files to a network location with a script. Furthermore, a sophisticated end-user could easily navigate to and delete the browser history. This monitoring technique is best suited when monitoring a small number of users, or better yet, a single, problem user. If you’re looking for a more robust Internet monitoring solution, I recommend you go with a commercial service or application.

After watching the video, you can read the original tip in Derek Schauland’ article, “Control users’ temporary Internet files and browser history using Windows Server 2003 Group Policy”. For more Internet usages and monitoring advice, check out the following TechRepublic Resources: