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ContentWatch Net Nanny 6.5 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £26
inc VAT

Net Nanny impressed us with its broad spread of features, plus the ease and effectiveness of its default protection. It's the best parental control package around.

Net Nanny 6.0 won a Best Buy award so we were expecting great things from version 6.5. It has some useful new features. These include real-time email alerts in response to blocked behaviours, a swear filter that replaces rude words with comic-book constructions like @#$!), and the blocking of sites based on keywords. This last feature proved its worth early on, with Net Nanny being the only application that stopped protected users from opening our Google Docs spreadsheet, which contained the objectionable URLs we use to test parental control software.

Net Nanny’s install program aims to make it easy to set up protection without the need for further tweaking. Accepting the default configuration leads to a reboot, after which every user is subject to sensible restrictions. It’s a good start, but most adults will want to create themselves less restricted profiles if the PC is shared. This is trickier than it should be and, once a profile is associated with a Windows login, the new settings don’t take effect until the user has logged off and on again.

As with version 6.0, Net Nanny’s filtering was among the best, although we again found that the default settings resulted in the NHS sexual health website being blocked. Also, one UK-based porn site slipped through the filtering, showing that even the best software should be used alongside other measures to keep kids safe.

Net Nanny manages to combine its ease of use with the ability to configure and block a wide-ranging set of activities and content. Its filters extend beyond web content to instant messaging and social networking, allowing these to be blocked altogether or for you to monitor your children’s activity online. It can enforce the age rating on games and prevent users from playing non-rated ones, too.

Given the increasing sophistication and availability of smart phones, it’s good to see that ContentWatch has now also developed versions of Net Nanny for several phone platforms. There’s also a Mac version, although unfortunately there’s no iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) release as yet. We haven’t tested these other versions, but it’s good to have them available for kids who do have compatible smart phones. It’s this kind of comprehensive thinking that helps Net Nanny win our Best Buy award once again.


Price £26
Rating *****

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