User session activity reports are quite popular in RDS/VDI environments these days and are one of the most requested features in any monitoring and management solution. At ControlUp, we deal specifically with these end-user computing environments where customers host their end-user sessions and applications, themselves. As a result, we understand how valuable user session activity reports can be for system admins and IT managers to keep track of and analyze historical user data (i.e. log-in times, session durations, number of users logged on, etc…). Below are some typical use cases for the user session activity reports:

How User Session Activity Reports Are Used

  1. User/Log-in Tracking – Allows customers to track which of their users are actually using the system for both security and HR purposes.
  2. Silo Log-Ins – Enable customers to gauge machine usage over a period of time, which helps in decision making processes for licensing renewals.
  3. Billing Purposes – A few of our managed service providers (MSPs) use log-in reports for billing purposes based on the number of their customers’ users that were logged onto their system.
  4. Troubleshooting User Performance Issues – A health care customer of ours leveraged user session activity reports to troubleshoot where and why users experienced performance issues within their system.

As seen from the use cases above, user session activity reports can be used for an assortment of reasons. Therefore, we, at ControlUp, are pleased to provide our customers with our step-by-step guide that will make creating these valuable reports a piece of cake. So, without further ado, our user session activity report technical guide:

ControlUp’s User Session Activity Report Step-by-Step Technical Guide

Step 1: Install and configure the ControlUp Monitor service

The ability to export data 24/7 is crucial for reliable user session activity reports. Therefore, in order to enable these data exports, you should first install and configure the ControlUp Monitor service. Our online manual explains how to install the Monitor service as well as how the Monitor service works.

After a successful installation the Monitor service should enter the ‘Running’ state:

Step 2: Configure scheduled exports in the ControlUp Monitor service.

In order to export historical data, you need to configure scheduled exports inside the monitor service’s settings. You can do this by going into the ‘Scheduled Exports’ tab in the wizard and clicking on ‘Add Export Rule’. This can also be configured at a later time via the Monitor Settings screen under the ‘Scheduled Export’ tab.

We recommend 1, 5, or 10 minute intervals based on the environment’s needs. These scheduled exports save all of your real-time data to the data repository. Below, I have configured the scheduler to export data at 10 minute intervals every day.

Step 3: Verify proper scheduled exports

Check that the chosen interval is working and that all of the views are exported. For example, if you configured a 1 minute interval, wait 10 minutes, then browse through the actual folder where you configured the exports and make sure that the CSV files match the raw data. If you exported all of the views every minute, make sure that the correct number of files exist in that folder after 10 minutes. Finally, open the CSV files to make sure that they actually open and data is valid.

*Important note: While it is possible to capture and store data for a month or year, in order to ensure quick reporting and a stable process, we configure a 7 day retention period in the export schedule. As a result, we recommend utilizing a simple Windows backup either performing a manual backup of the actual data folder or scheduling an automated task that backs up and copies the old files each week to an external location before they are replaced. This procedure will leave you with unlimited historical data.

Step 4: Create user session activity reports using the ControlUp Reporter

The ControlUp Reporter utility is used to create historical reports. The sub-steps below detail where it can be located and how to use it once it is downloaded.

4.1 – Download and launch the ControlUp Reporter, then double click on cuReporter.exe.

*Please note that MS Excel 2010/2013 should be installed on the computer prior to launching ControlUp Reporter

4.2 – Point the ControlUp Reporter utility to the data folder. This is the only configuration step in the process once the reporter is launched. Simply point the reporter utility to the data directory that contains the historical data.

4.3 – Execute the user session activity report. This is the last report in the list. Choose whichever group of users you please, as well as the relevant start and stop dates/times, then, simply click on ‘Export to Excel’.

4.4 – Review the actual report – Once you have completed steps 1-3, you will be able to generate reports using ControlUp’s Reporter. Your user session activity report should look something like this:

There you have it, the complete step-by-step guide to creating a user session activity report using ControlUp’s simple Monitor and Reporter features. Now user data analysis will be as easy as 1, 2, 3.