Family Protection's default setting is far too lax for kids and too restrictive for adults.
Like Norton, McAfee started out making anti-virus software and has steadily branched out. We’ve seen Family Protection before and, while the 2011 version reviewed here is two releases newer than the 2009 package we looked at, it appears remarkably similar.
The installer requires an additional validation step at the end of the installation, and McAfee insists on high standard for its password, which must contain a mix of letters and numbers.
Family Protection sets up a single account, linked to an identity created when registering for the software download. This is applied as a default across all users on a PC, making it quick to install and protect a computer used only by children. If adults share the PC, most will want to use the admin interface to create an account with unrestricted access to its programs and the web. Unfortunately, this software can’t detect and work with existing Windows user accounts – its profiles are independent, requiring users to enter their account and password when logging on. Although there’s an option to remember this, adults need to be careful not to check it using their child’s Windows user account.
Before worrying about removing their restrictions, adults should first attend to the default settings which are far too lenient for children. While pornography was blocked consistently in our tests, none of the hate or self-harm sites were stopped, and nor were Google searches for obscene material. Tightening up the filtering involves toggling around 35 categories, with illegal and violent sites just some of those not blocked by default. Confusingly, the button to access the settings has a tick-box graphic suggesting that several categories are blocked which are not.
There are good features to be found within Family Protection, including chat blocking and monitoring options, scheduling and the ability to block emails and programs. You can also prevent children posting sensitive information to social networks and configure instant email alerts, but doing so takes much more time and effort than with Microsoft Family Safety and Net Nanny. It’s hard to understand why Family Protection’s default settings are suitable neither for adults or children and, given that it costs more than these better packages, it’s one we can’t recommend.