Windows File Monitor displays details on all PC file system activities - creations, updates and deletions - as they happen. This makes it ideal if you want to see which files are being created or changed as a program is installed or run. And the program may also be useful if your hard drive is buzzing with unexplained activity, and you want to know why.
Windows File Monitor is a portable program, so very straightforward to use: just download and unzip it, then launch "Phrozen Windows File Mon.exe" and click Record whenever you want to begin monitoring activity.
By default any changes are displayed in an Explorer-like tree, which helps you understand what's happening at a glance. When we left Windows File Monitor to track itself, for instance, we saw a "config.ini" file created in the \Users\[User]\Downloads\PhrozenWindowsFileMon_V1 folder: it didn't require any great Windows expertise to figure out what was going on.
The tree can take a lot of space, but if this is a problem then clicking "List" displays all your file changes in a more conventional grid (you'll see the source file or folder, the action - Create, Update or Delete - and the working folder).
One problem we noticed immediately is that if you click "Stop" to end your monitoring, the list of changes is immediately cleared. And there's no way to get it back. One way to avoid this is to click "Pause", instead, or you can tell Windows File Monitor to keep your data (click Settings, uncheck the "Clear" box).
If your recordings prove useful then there's an option to save them in a text report.
Perhaps best of all, the program can be customised to suit your needs in a capable Settings dialog. You're able to choose which drives, folders or files events to monitor, helping trim down the final report to only those details which really matter.