6. Phrozen Windows Files Monitor
Although the Phrozen website no longer lists or even mentions its own tool, Windows Files Monitor still works. The program itself is portable and can monitor almost 20 different events. These include attributes, create, delete, rename, update, and association. There’s also some other system events like drive and media remove/add, network share/unshare, and server disconnect. Each can be disabled in the settings.
Only whole drives are monitored and all installed drives are selected for monitoring by default. If you want to disable a drive, go to the settings > “Drives to Monitor”. However, we found the drive selection a bit buggy and the options don’t stick. You can use an exclusion on specific drives (or folders) for a more permanent solution. A capture only selected extensions option is available in the same window as the exclusions.
Just press Record to begin monitoring and the results will appear in the window in a list or tree format. Results can be saved to a text log file.
FolderChangesView is another tiny, simple, and portable utility from Nirsoft that can actively monitor files, folders or complete drives in real time. It tells you which files have been modified, created, deleted, or renamed. FolderChangesView offers to play a sound on an event trigger, execute a command or script on a new/updated item, and save a log file at specific intervals in text, HTML, or XML format.
When started, a window will ask for all base folders to monitor in a comma delimited list and a checkbox for optionally monitoring all subfolders. There’s also comma delimited lists available for folder exclusions and file show/hide wildcards. The folder exclusion list allows you to add partial folder names or names that will match several folders if you want.
The window will list all files that have been modified, created, renamed, or deleted since monitoring began in a list format and a counter for each file of the possible actions. Other information such as the full path to the file, its extension, owner, and event time is also displayed. Monitoring can easily be stopped or started using the buttons on the toolbar.
8. SpyMe Tools
SpyMe Tools is a bit of a dual role utility because it can also perform before and after snapshots to compare after monitoring software installs. This tool has also been mentioned in our Tracking Registry and Files Changes When Installing Software in Windows article. It does, however, have a real time function to monitor files and can also monitor a selected folder or a whole drive. Portable or setup installer versions are available.
When you run SpyMe Tools, look for the “Current Mode” in the toolbar and click the file icon. Then click the “Real time Monitor” icon to the right to open the configuration window. The program can watch for file and folder actions including create, delete, rename, timestamp changes, and optionally disable file or folder monitoring. Select the drive(s) or a specified folder, set a wildcard if needed to watch for certain types of files, and then switch to the View tab to start monitoring.
9. Track Folder Changes
Track Folder Changes is a very simple, small, and portable tool to operate and has no options to configure at all. The type of changes to files and folders it can detect is also slightly less than some other programs but is still able to identify when they are created, modified, or deleted. Windows 10 users will be offered .NET Framework 3.5 for installation if it’s not already installed.
By default, Track Folder Changes will start to monitor the whole C drive which will obviously create a lot of action and is easily changed to a specific folder with the browse button. All actions are displayed in real time and the complete directory tree to a change will be expanded. Any changes detected to files or folders are color coded; green is newly created, blue is modified and orange is deleted.
If a file is renamed you will get an orange and a green entry because the program sees it as the old file being removed and a new file created in its place. You can open the file or folder, go to its location or copy the path via right clicking on the entry.
10. Moo0 File Monitor
This is another tool that is very easy to use with pretty much everything contained within a single window. Moo0 File Monitor does have a few options compared to Track Folder Changes but it’s not overloaded and they’re not complicated. Monitoring watches file and folder activity for create, write, rename, and delete. Each can be enabled or disabled using the checkboxes at the top.
The other checkboxes are to control which drives are monitored. There is no option to watch specific folders, just whole partitions including external drives. Some options are available in the View menu, such as window refresh frequency, display log size, window skins, and different languages. The save log button at the bottom right saves the display log data to an HTML page. Both portable and installer versions are available.
Final Note: Other useful tools to monitor files and folders in real time that are not listed here include File Watcher Utilities and DaemonFS. One tool we would advise caution over is Free Folder Monitor as it can install adware during setup even if you opt out. Extracting the installer with something like Universal Extractor and using the program portably does get around the issue.
Although not included here, a favorite techie’s tool Process Monitor could also be configured to perform these functions in some capacity. The problem is setting it up to monitor files and folders for create/delete/rename actions is really not that easy and requires extensive use of the filters function.