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On task

Track time spent on particular projects with this useful database.

When your business handles multiple clients and bills accordingly, timekeeping can be a pain. ActiTime Basic is an easy-to-use program that can help you and your employees keep track of how time is being spent. There are definitely some aspects of the program that could be better, but it's not a bad choice for freeware.

To use ActiTime Basic, users must install either Microsoft Access (for 10 or fewer employees) or MySQL (for more than 10 employees). Once the program is installed, you have a choice of viewing it with a sample dataset to get a feel for how it works, or jumping right in and creating your own database. The program has an attractive tabbed interface, and most of its features are easy to figure out. Users can create tasks that are associated with particular projects and clients; each task can have a deadline assigned and can be marked as billable or not. Users can then record the amount of time spent on each task throughout the week. A report generator lets users view the activity of either one employee or the entire company for a specified range of dates. Overall, the program was easy to configure and use, although we did have several complaints. Our biggest was the fact that the time spent on each task must be manually entered; there's no timer to start and stop as you change tasks. That means users must either keep track of their time spent with some other method and then enter it into ActiTime at the end of the day, or update their time in ActiTime whenever they switch tasks, which can get tedious and time-consuming. We were also surprised that the report generator wasn't able to create reports that differentiate between billable and nonbillable hours. Finally, we would have liked to see a more comprehensive Help file. Even with these limitations, though, ActiTime Basic is a useful program, and it's worth looking at.

ActiTime Basic installs politely but leaves a folder behind upon removal.

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