You can monitor Internet browsing in a number of ways, depending on how you wish to monitor. You either install a client on each computer you wish to monitor, or configure your network so that every computer must go through a monitoring device. Each method offers advantages and disadvantages depending on your network and overall monitoring goals.

Built-in Solutions

Virtually all computers include a function to control and monitor Web browsing. Every Web browser has the ability to review the URL history, providing the URL as well as the date and time it was accessed. Though not automatically installed, Window provides a free Family Safety tool for download that, once installed, enables you to turn on an activity report for each user you're monitoring (see Resources). These solutions are simplified options that must be installed for every computer and for each user you wish to monitor. If a computer is used by many people, you may need to enforce the usage of individual user accounts. Some Wi-Fi routers also include rudimentary monitoring tools. These tools often work by installing that company's software, which creates easy-to-read reports from the data already stored on that router.

Third-party Options

You can monitor Internet browsing by installing software on the computer you wish to monitor. The installed software collects the Web browsing information and either sends the information to a central repository, such as a larger monitoring system, or emails a report to an address you specify. Since the software must be purchased and installed on each system you wish to monitor, it can quickly become expensive and difficult to manage when there are too many computers. This software, however, often offer more features, such as the ability to monitor web-chat sessions and other non-website-based communications. Third-party solutions are often necessary for monitoring tablets and smartphones, as well.