Internet Filters are needed now more than ever before. Since the dawn of the internet, pornography and other potentially offensive material has made its presence felt. Today, porn is a $10 billion industry, greater than the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball - combined.
Over two million porn sites exist on the internet today, with 2,500 new ones added each week. And with all the other violent and offensive websites out there, the problem is not going to get better anytime soon.
Against this backdrop, internet filter programs work hard to block objectionable material from innocent eyes. Each offers a unique approach or feature set to meet this pervasive challenge.
When evaluating the different internet filter programs, there are certain factors you want to consider. Some of these include
Features. Does the internet filter only block websites? Can it also filter chatrooms, emails, and file-sharing services?
Support. Support for internet filters range from toll-free telephone service to 3-day email answers. Make sure you understand the level of commitment you're signing up for.
Cost. Pay attention to the full cost of the internet filter program; some services may make you pay to answer your questions.
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best internet filters available today. We hope this information helps you protect you and your family right away!
Disclosure: We pay our reviewers and we are compensated for our reviews. Click here for details.
Net Nanny, formerly Content Protect, is a fully featured internet filter solution that works for the entire family. An easy-to-use interface, robust blocking strategies, and remote monitoring capabilities give this product our highest ranking.
Net Nanny is compatible with many popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, AltaVista, Dogpile, AllTheWeb, MSN and Lycos. One feature we liked was the dynamic filtering capability. Some sites, such as Yahoo News, are constantly updated throughout the day. Net Nanny constantly monitors the content that is displayed on these sites; meaning that, depending on the news articles posted, the site may or may not be
blocked. This "safe search" option may only be bypassed with an administrator password - children are not allowed on blocked sites, even with a different search engine. This product also blocks content in multiple languages.
Pornography, hate sites, and questionable chat rooms are all filtered. This product can also be programmed to block online game and gambling sites, so that only games with parental ratings that you deem appropriate are available for children. Net Nanny allows parents to customize internet access for their family's needs. You are empowered to fully or partially block Peer-to-Peer downloading (eliminating
your exposure to record-industry lawsuits), Instant Messaging, chat rooms, and even specific web sites. You are able to monitor time on the computer, including your children's online whereabouts. You can also read the full text of Instant Messages.
Net Nanny offers protection from other areas of the Internet, not just the World Wide Web. Children are protected from lesser-known modes of electronic communication such as Usenet, FTP, Forums and email.
One impressive feature of Net Nanny is the ability to monitor and manage its functions from any pc connected to the internet. From any pc in the world you can take a look at activity logs and make any changes you deem necessary.
The initial install is simple; Net Nanny installs and configures itself. Once complete, you automatically receive upgrades and updated site listings from the internet. With this clever feature, you always have the most current listing of objectionable material without having to install upgrades.
A 1-800 number is provided for customer support, which is available M-F. There is also an email address to email questions.
Net Nanny provides all the features we could ask for in an internet filter, including robust blocking, a simple interface, and remote monitoring. These capabilities, along with a very reasonable price and free trial period, combine to give Net Nanny our highest rating.
Safeeyes combines professional grade filter servers and a user-friendly PC interface to use specifically for home internet filtering. This gives parents a high quality filter that is easy to install and can be used on any computer anywhere with any ISP.
Rather than storing lists of objectionable sites and data on your pc, Safeeyes takes a different approach. When you connect to the internet, Safeeyes routes you to servers maintained at their location. All your web traffic flows through their servers before it is returned to you; which means, they can block objectionable material before it is ever delivered to your pc! This also frees you from the hassle of installing
and updating screening software on your pc. The filters are updated with new material on a daily basis. In our time trial tests using high-speed internet access, there was no measurable delay using the Safeeyes filtering servers.
Configuration is a simple process. 35 categories of potentially objectionable material are predefined for you. When setting up user profiles, you identify which categories they are allowed to access. This makes for a great timesaving feature.
Safeeyes also gives you the ability to fine-tune your configuration. Do you want to allow or block specific websites? Simply add them to the user's profile. Do you want to allow or block specific applications, like P2P file sharing services or instant message applications? Again, Safeeyes allows you to simply add them to the user's profile. Safeeyes also allows you to define the time periods when you want individual users
to be able to access the internet.
Updated websites are added to the Safeeyes servers on a continual basis. There is no need to download new versions of block lists, because all of this information is stored and maintained on their servers.
If someone does try to access objectionable material on your pc, Safeeyes can instantly and secretly notify you by email or by telephone. With the telephone service, a recorded message is played asking you to call a number and provide a password to retrieve your message. This prevents unauthorized access of your information by third parties. Still, even with this notification Safeeyes could stand some improvements to their
One interesting note is that this is the only internet filter in this review that is compatible with Macs. All others internet filters in this review are for PC only.
Customer Service is done primarily via email. However, they do have a toll-free number for customer support 9am-5pm est Monday through Friday.
Safeeyes combines a strong internet filter package with daily upgrades and secure, offsite servers. This powerful solution earns one of our highest marks for internet filters.
Cyber Patrol is one of the most feature-rich Internet filtering products in our review, blocking websites, newsgroups, search engine images, and even objectionable words and phrases used while chatting or instant messaging.
This product uses a layered filtering technology that involves the CyberList database and a dynamic filtering technology. This combination makes a very powerful filter that is capable of capturing sites that are not yet in its database.
Cyber Patrol gets high ratings for all of the extra features it offers. Some of these include
a "Yes List", which is good for families with young children, only allowing them onto pre-approved sites
Setting up allowable times for internet and application usage
Controlling program downloads
CyberPatrol makes use of categories to group potentially objectionable material. These categories can be turned on or off for individual user profiles. A couple of the more interesting categories include:
Spyware - This protects the computer by preventing access to sites that promote potentially malicious software that can debilitate a computer
Criminal Activity and Phishing is another category that is set up to protect the user from giving out personal passwords or log in information
Updated material is available for download on a weekly basis.
Free technical support is available online, and by email and fax. However, no phone support is offered.
One drawback to Cyber Patrol is its interface. It is one of the more complex interfaces in our roundup; being technically savvy is definitely a plus when configuring this program. Another drawback lies in its reporting; the reports are simple but should be improved.
In spite of these drawbacks, Cyber Patrol delivers on its promise of a feature-rich internet filter. The layered filtering technology and range of blocking capabilities give this product high marks.
B Secure relies on its servers to block objectionable material before it is ever delivered to your pc. This material can be defined differently for each user profile that you set up.
Configuration of B Secure is a simple process. First, you set up a profile for each user in your household that will access the internet. Next, you decide which "categories" of material you want to allow for each user profile. B Secure groups objectionable material into 32 different "categories". Examples of these categories include Gambling, Pornography, Personals/dating, and Web-based email.
For each profile, you block or allow entire categories of material. This makes configuration of each profile a very simple and timesaving process. And in other timesaving move, B Secure assumes the responsibility of categorizing new websites into one of these categories for you. Of course, you also have the ability to allow or block individual websites for each user profile. And, you can define the time periods for each
day that each user can access the internet.
One of the most thoughtful features we liked was their online help system. B Secure provides a very thorough seven-page, 136 Q & A support section for customers looking for help. In addition to this they offer a free telephone help line that is open 7am to 11pm Monday thru Sunday. They are one of the few companies in this industry to offer free phone support, especially with such long hours.
For reporting, B Secure boasts a "tamper proof reporting option" which is a nice feature. Three reports per week can be generated and emailed to whomever to show which websites have been visited that week by that computer. They also provide instant email notification if someone tries to access blocked material on your pc. If your pager supports text messaging via an email address, you can send these alerts to
your pager for notification wherever you are.
With secure server-based internet filtering, and an easy to use interface, B Secure receives some of the highest marks in our review.
I Protect You has a clean and easy-to-understand interface, although it looks a bit outdated. Each main category has clear descriptions that help guide you in using its features.
Installation is quick and painless. Upon configuration, you can set up different users, and groups of users, with different access rights to objectionable material. In fact, there are four different levels of responses that can be utilized when restricted matter is encountered, based on maturity, interests, habits, and parental control needs. This allows for a great degree of customization.
I Protect You allows you to filter harmful websites and newsgroups. In addition, you can block emails, online chat programs, instant messages, and file sharing services. The database has an auto-update feature that ensures its content is current.
I Protect You also lets you restrict when, and for how long, your child can access the internet. This is useful if you want to restrict the total amount of time that your child spends online, in addition to the time periods they are allowed to access the internet.
One unique feature of I Protect You is its ability to limit the amount of data that can be sent or received via your computer. This can be used as a way to help restrict any software that gets downloaded. We'd like to see other internet filter packages adopt a similar option.
The website itself has a number of useful articles which make it a great resource for learning more about internet filters. This makes the site a good starting point for parents who want to learn exactly how things like peer-to-peer networks and spyware work. However, the layout of the website was not intuitive or easy to navigate through.
Customer support is all via email. They provide customers with a form to fill out and say they should receive an answer within one to three business days. We'd like to see better support offered for their customers.
I Protect You is a decent internet filter with some interesting features. We'd like to see an updated interface and better customer support options to round out this product.
PC Tattletale's website takes a real scare tactic approach towards parents. While there are plenty of dangers lurking in cyberspace, there are many solid reasons to purchase an internet filter that aren't based on fear alone.
Built primarily to monitor and capture a user's whereabouts while online, PC Tattletale has rather limited filtering capability. Simply supply a list of keywords that you find objectionable. If the child tries to go to any web site that contains the targeted keywords, PC Tattletale intervenes and displays a "Page not found" error instead. The theory is that your child will soon tire of trying to display that
page and move on to something else.
Unfortunately, this level of rudimentary filtering is severely lacking when compared with the other products in our review. First, you must maintain the list of keywords yourself; no one else is monitoring this list for you. Second, a keyword may be objectionable in one context, but not another.
For example, health-related sites may contain keywords that would be objectionable if used on adult-oriented websites; but the method used by PC Tattletale will block all sites regardless of how the word is used. Third, no attempt is made to filter emails, chat rooms, or other forms of communication.
On the monitoring side, PC Tattletale provides some useful features, such as screenshot captures and color-coding different chat personalities for ease of recognition.
PC Tattletale has features that make it more appealing to monitor, or review, the activity that takes place on your pc, rather than stop it from happening in the first place.
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