When Was Your Computer Used?

Monica from NH asks:
Is there a way to tell if someone else has been using my computer in my absence? For example, the last time it was booted?

Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 have an Event Viewer to help you keep track of what your computer is doing. An event is anything noteworthy that happens to your computer. To bring up the E.V. in XP go to Start/Run and type the following…


The same process applies to Vista and Windows 7, only you type it in the Search Box.

Here’s the Event Viewer in Windows 7…


…and in Windows XP


Events in XP are stored in three log files: Application, Security, and System. These logs can be reviewed and archived. In Vista, these can be found under the Windows Logs section. For more on the Vista Event Viewer, click here. Windows 7 log files also inlcude Setup and Forwarded Events.

For our purposes, we want the System log. Click on System in the left-hand column for a list of events. Look for a date and time when you weren’t home and your computer should have been off.


By double-clicking the event you can get more details on what the event was.


Just click on the link for that says, For more information…

You can also use this log to see how long someone was on the computer. Just look at the time the computer was turned on and off for that day. Oh look, Junior was on for 5 hours! No wonder the yard work wasn’t done.


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