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Webroot Parental Controls review

Barry de la Rosa
16 Oct 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
25
inc VAT for a one-year, three-PC licence

Webroot suffers from a range of particularly poor filters, and it's identical to KidsWatch minus a couple of useful features.

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Specifications

Webroot's installation requires the creation of a new user account to manage the program, and then you are prompted to create new accounts for each user.

This can get complicated, and we had some problems with Vista's user accounts. Once set up, you have access to an unrivalled level of control over the times your child can use the computer, the internet, and individual programs.

You can choose from a number of pre-defined templates based on age group, which is a wise option as the number of options to choose from can be bewilderingly large at the start. You can set time restrictions on using the computer and the Internet separately, and for each you can choose not only blocks of time, but also a quota per week or per day. You can choose which programs can be accessed, and these can also be restricted by time and given quotas, which is ideal for games.

The web filters are split into several categories neatly organised in a tree structure, along with global blacklists and whitelists. There are some advanced options we hadn't seen on other parental control software, such as restricting access to Windows functions such as Task Manager and the Run command.

Webroot's web filters blocked the most sites, but a lot of the blocked sites were marked as Unrated rather than fitting into a pre-defined category. Sites that should have been allowed, such as the NHS sex education site and the Talk To Frank page, were blocked. You can turn off filtering for unrated sites if you want, but the fact that so many weren't rated makes Webroot's filters appear badly researched. Worst of all, Google searches for adult keywords failed to trigger the filter.

After the first year, you'll have to pay £18 to continue your subscription to Webroot's filtering service. Despite its range of time management features, Webroot lacks chat monitoring for instant messaging programs, and its web filters are poor. We recommend Net Nanny instead.

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