WebWatcher

WebWatcher
Developed by: Awareness Technologies
Ranked: 4th
Overall rating:
Best price: $97.00
Purchase:

Stephen
Qualtrough

Reviewer

Technology should make our lives easier

Review summary

Good points WebWatcher review good points

• Comprehensively records all online activity

• Stealth installation

• Remote access

• Instant messaging & email monitoring

Bad points WebWatcher review bad points

• Limited time management tools

• Difficult to configure settings

• Incompatible with Mac

• Not Browser Independent

• Ineffective against proxies

Our verdict

WebWatcher records all websites visited, emails, IM conversations and keystrokes. It effectively monitors and blocks inappropriate content from your child.

Screenshot of WebWatcher 1 Screenshot of WebWatcher 2 Screenshot of WebWatcher 3



Full review

Setup

WebWatcher is quick and easy to install. Simply download the software and install it on the computer that needs to be monitored. After installation is complete, it runs in the background and is completely invisible.

There is no subscription plan for WebWatcher, you only pay for the software once and receive one licence with each copy. To install it on multiple computers you will need to purchase the required amount of copies.

Filtering & blocking

Websites: WebWatcher monitors and records all visited websites. It comes with 35 pre-defined website categories, which include many sub-categories. These categories block specific content, including: pornographic content and hate sites. Of course, parents can also configure settings to block specific websites. It is important to point out that WebWatcher struggles with proxy sites, which allows computer savvy kids to evade the software. Its real strength lies in monitoring websites as it is provides the parent with information such as the date and the duration each website was viewed.

Unfortunately, the software is not browser independent. WebWatcher supports Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. This means that the child can evade the software by using an unsupported web browser if it is not manually blocked.

IM & chat: All IM conversations are recorded and parents are provided with information such as the data, time and members in the conversations. WebWatcher supports the majority of instant messaging sites, including: MSN messenger, Yahoo messenger and AOL instant messenger.

Social networks: The software is designed to monitor Facebook and MySpace. You can set it to take screenshots if a restricted word is typed in a conversation. You can specifically block other social media sites but WebWatcher will only record that the website has been visited.

Games: Web-based game sites and internet connected games can be blocked. However, you cannot specifically block the multiplayer feature of games.

Other: You can block peer-to-peer downloading, monitor all emails and record every keystroke typed.

Effectiveness

One of the most common problems with parental control software is that the child can invisibly surf the web by using a proxy server. While WebWatcher allows you specifically block certain proxy sites, it is fairly simple to by-pass the filters. Also, WebWatcher misses the mark in filtering content accessed through a proxy server as alert keywords are not detected in sites accessed through unknown proxies.

WebWatcher runs in the background and does not show up in the task manager processes list or the system tray. A specific key combination must be entered to uninstall the software, so the child is completely unaware of the program. WebWatcher excels at stealthily recording every website visited and keystrokes entered.

Time controls

Time control tools are somewhat limited. The parent can create a time schedule that enables them to restrict the times particular applications can be accessed. Time periods can be confusing for parents as they must be set to activate and deactivate on five minute intervals. This means that you have no time controls in the time period between 11:55pm to midnight.

Administration

The administrator has full control over the monitoring and blocking features of the software. As the administrator, you can customise all the settings of each user profile and remotely access logs containing information in regards to all the recorded content.

By default, WebWatcher records all the websites visited, IM Chats, emails and web searches. Parents have the option of running the software with default settings or defining parameters for custom profiles.

Reporting

WebWatcher’s log data provides parents with a comprehensive report of all email conversations and IM conversations. Parents can also view a list of all the websites visited and screenshots taken due to the use of restricted keywords. Further, all the keystrokes entered by the child are displayed in a list format. The activity reports can be accessed through any computer with an internet connection, but the sheer amount of information provided in the report can be overwhelming for parents. There is an online dashboard with summarised data provided with the premium edition, but that will cost you extra.While the activity reports are detailed, there is no record of conversations on social media sites and automatic alerts cannot be received via text message.

Ease of use

The average user must be willing to learn how to use the software by reading the help documents provided. While WebWatcher’s user interface is straight forward, the process of configuring its settings is lengthy and quite complex. It requires a lot of patience and effort to set up even the most basic of settings. User-friendliness is a major downside, but it does get easier to use after the software has been used for a considerable period of time.

Help & support

If you require assistance, you can call the customer support team during business hours or access the 24/7 online chat service provided for customers. Additionally, you can also contact support via email if you are in need of technical assistance. A knowledge base forum is also provided and contains questions and answers posted by other users.

Overall

WebWatcher provides a good collection of blocking and monitoring tools. The software will effectively record all online activities and block specified websites. Its real value is in its monitoring abilities rather than its blocking capabilities as it doesn’t effectively handle proxies. Although it is pricey, WebWatcher is a solid option for monitoring your child’s activities online.


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Ratings breakdown

Overall
 received a rating of 4 for Overall
Setup
 received a rating of 4 for Setup
Filtering & blocking
 received a rating of 4 for Filtering & blocking
Effectiveness
 received a rating of 4 for Effectiveness
Time controls
 received a rating of 4 for Time controls
Administration
 received a rating of 4 for Administration
Reporting
 received a rating of 3 for Reporting
Ease of use
 received a rating of 4 for Ease of use
Help & support
 received a rating of 3 for Help & support