This report is part of a series of employee monitoring and productivity software comparisons designed for the business owner, compliance officer or HR Manager who is looking for software systems to deal with Insider Threats and measure employee productivity. The questions our audience are asking include:

  • How can I easily monitor my employee’s phones and computers without needing technical help?
  • How can I prevent sensitive data company data leaving the office?
  • How can I see which employees are productive and which aren’t?
  • How can I measure employee attendance and absences?
  • How can I do this without a huge investment in hardware and training

It is written by KnowIT technical staff from the perspective of Digital Endpoint.


The main difference here between Desktime and KnowIT is that KnowIT provides far better employee reporting as well as employee monitoring features overall.  Desktime focuses solely on measuring employee productivity based upon what they work on so key features such as logging keystrokes it doesn’t have.  Because it is missing these key features Desktime cannot alert or protect companies from insider threats or provide true employee monitoring.

Feature Comparison

When it comes to employee monitoring, productivity and attendance are the two key areas that an application must focus on for employers to consider using it to monitor their employees.

Below you can see the feature comparison between Desktime and KnowIT.

KnowIT is the industry leader in employee monitoring software for both computers and mobile devices and it focuses specifically on productivity and attendance monitoring as its core features.

Instant Messengers
Yahoo Messenger
Websites Visited
Internet Explorer
Browser Search Terms
Duck Duck Go
The Internet Archive
Screenshots Capturing
Requested screenshots
Scheduled screenshots
File Transfer Tracking
USB File transfer tracking
Web File transfer tracking
Cloud file transfer tracking
File Activity Tracking
Files created
Files copied
Files moved
Files deleted
Files modified
Application Tracking
Application usage
Installed applications
User Log On Tracking
Log on/ log off
Lock/unlock screen
Global Application Discovery
Network Connections Tracking
Network Traffic Tracking
Print Tracking
Keystroke Recording
Clipboard Tracking

From the table above, KnowIT is the obvious choice just from comparing the number of features alone against Desktime.

KnowIT though has far more useful features for monitoring employees as well, which we go in to more detail in further on in this review. It also has exclusive features such as making sure the installed applications list is always up to date, no matter what employees install or remove, using the global application discovery feature.

This means that only with KnowIT do you, as a manager, know everything your employees are doing at work, all the time.


Determining if an employee is productive or not during the workday is the million-dollar question for most companies.  So, when it comes to picking an employee monitoring tool to monitor your organization you need to make sure that it measures productivity in both a realistic and useful manner.

Desktime measures productivity the way that an accountant or project manager would.  This means that it allows you to set a salary for each employee and set projects and tasks so you can work out how much money the employee is costing the company, based upon their work performance.

But that is not really measuring productivity and seems more suitable for accounting or project management software instead.

KnowIT measures productivity in a similar manner to Desktime, but instead it just gives a normalized productivity score for all employees which is far more useful for management.

It does this by allowing you to set applications or websites as productive or not and calculates an overall productivity score for each employee for the day based on that and their overall attendance.  With KnowIT you can set productive applications or websites based upon your company definition of what constitutes being productive or unproductive and KnowIT will calculate an overall employee score for all employees in the company.

This lets managers compare productivity easily across the entire company or against individual employees.


Nowadays it isn’t enough just to see employees at their desks.  Companies want to know the exact time they log in and log out or take breaks because every minute matters.  The best employee monitoring software should not only monitor employee attendance but it should do it in a logical and realistic way.

There are several ways that employee attendance can be monitored and both KnowIT and Desktime use the same technique.

By monitoring the device log on and log out times and comparing that against a company work schedule both products can tell you how long the employee is in the office each day.  They both also allow you to set when an employee is absent on any day, however KnowIT also lets you set if the absence is unauthorized or not.

So, whilst both may measure attendance, they each do it differently.

For Desktime, attendance is only monitored when the employee opens the software and logs in.  If they forget then it will affect their overall attendance data.

KnowIT simply measures the device log on and log off time from the moment the computer is turned on to when it is shutdown for the day.

It then takes that data and compares it against a company or employee work schedule and lets you know the number of times the employee was late or arrived early or the number of extra hours worked.

KnowIT provides far more detailed attendance insights for all employees in the company.  It can also be used with fingerprint scanners for companies with a biometric attendance system.


Capturing all employee behavior is great, but it can be worthless if there aren’t detailed reports to help management make sense of all the numbers.

Reporting is exceedingly limited in Desktime and you must pay extra for them as well.

For each report, you can either download it or email it to the respective employee or department for further review.

KnowIT gives you a far more comprehensive reporting package.

With a bumper list of categorized reports to choose from you can easily generate reports based upon productivity or attendance.

You can use KnowIT’s reports to answer key business questions such as which of my employees is always arriving late or which employees are using the most network bandwidth in the office?.

You simply cannot answer these questions using the reports available in Desktime.

KnowIT also allows you email employee productivity reports for specific employees or all employees, along with employee attendance reports as well as employee alert reports.  These reports can be sent to the specific employee for self-policing or any other recipient of your choice.

It means that you do not have to always be logged in to view what is going on in the workplace.

Key Features

Apart from monitoring productivity and attendance there are several other key features that employee monitoring software must have to be an effective monitoring solution.  Two of these features are screenshot capturing and alerts.

Screenshot capturing is needed in case you want to look further at an action taken by an employee, whilst alerts are useful so that you can be informed if an employee is doing something at work that may be against company policy.

Like attendance monitoring, Desktime and KnowIT both have this feature, it just works in different ways.

Desktime simply takes scheduled screenshots every five minutes. There is no way to change this timer. 

That sounds good, but what happens if you just want to capture employee screenshots on a whim?  With Desktime the chances of missing out on key screenshot data because of this limitation is high.

KnowIT solves this problem by giving you two ways to capture screenshots on the device.

The first, like Desktime, is on a schedule, which you can set yourself according to your needs and the second way is on-demand.

On-demand screenshots mean that you simply take a series of screenshots at a time that you choose.  This feature is exclusive to KnowIT and helps managers save time monitoring their employees.

Having this KnowIT feature means that you never need to worry about potentially missing any important employee activity because you can use KnowIT to capture screenshots at any time you require and you don’t have to potentially waste hours sifting through all the screenshots captured either.

For alerts, because managers are busy people, they cannot afford to be logged in to an employee monitoring program all the time to see what their employees are up to.

This is where the alerts system comes in.

Desktime doesn’t have any alerts system to alert you of potentially suspicious behavior.

That means you must sift through all the data in the online portal until you find something of interest and then, when you do, you must track backwards to see what triggered it.

KnowIT solves this problem by having a built-in alerts system. 

This allows you to be alerted, either by a built-in alert for something such as when a new application is installed, or to create your own custom alert for specific employee activity across all employees or ones you specify.

Thanks to this feature, managers can be emailed directly whenever any events of interest occur so that they can act and prevent possible situations such as a data breach or other insider threats.


If you need to start with a free product, and you only have a few employees then Desktime should be able to meet your needs.  However, larger companies who want to focus on monitoring the productivity or attendance of their employees should choose KnowIT.

This is because only KnowIT offers a far greater window in to what is happening in your workface by tying up productivity monitoring and attendance monitoring to give you one product that tells you the whole story about what your employees are up to whilst at work.

This is reflected in the overall price, with Desktime priced at $7 per user per month and KnowIT at $19.99 per month per user.