Monitoring software

Stay informed with the latest
in Internet monitoring software
parental controls & keyloggers.

 

No matter if you’re looking to record and monitor internet activity, record instant message / IMs (chats), block porn / adult content or other unsuitable web sites, or just keep an eye on a loved one, the software reviewed and rated on this site can help you do just that.

From our reviews, you’ll see some software does certain things better than others–and some do (almost) everything. Some for instance may feature invisible, (nearly) perfect key loggers while others may have better content filtering. All-in-all though, you’ll find the best applications here offer far more than just invisible key logging (also called “ghost keylogging”) or blocking Internet Explorer.

Whatever the case, we hope that by reading our reviews you’ll find software that meets your needs for monitoring, blocking, keystroke tracking, and recording Internet activity and that they’re all useful tools in Internet safety.

 

Editor’s Choice Award Winner

As the only truly web-based computer activity / Internet monitor, WebWatcher is in a league of its own. With a complete suite of powerful features included, WebWatcher has the rare ability of both effective monitoring and web site blocking.

The software installs easily and has an intuitive interface that even computer novices should find easy to use.

In short: WebWatcher puts serious power in your hands. Couple the powerful features available “out-of-the-box” (no configuration required) with the ease of managing everything from a standard web browser, and it’s easy to see why WebWatcher is our Editor’s Choice. It’s solid software.

WebWatcher
Pros
  • web-based interface (monitor activity from anywhere)
  • invisibility
  • real-time recording
  • contextual blocker
  • keystroke recorder
  • integrated reporting for multiple computers
  • customer service
Cons
  • No P2P blocking (Peer-to-peer)
  • No Mac support
verdict: powerful, stealthy, very functional.

eBlaster 6.0 does most of the things that its sibling Spector Pro does, but in an effort to get the recorded data off of the monitored computer (a must in our opinion!) eBlaster relies on the risky method of emailing the data.

What many people don’t know is that email is sent “plain text”, so it’s quite easy for someone else to read those emails as the emails are going to and from your computer.

As you might imagine, this can put any of your private information that might have been recorded by the software at tremendous risk. For that reason alone in our opinion the benefit of data access via email should be seriously weighed before you buy.

For many users the kind of data recorded by activity monitors–like usernames and passwords–is too sensitive to be sent out via email. Additionally, the email reports (even with the default setting of 1 per hr) add up quickly if you’re away from your email for a few hours–much less a few days.

eBlaster
Pros
  • remote access to data (via email)
  • peer-to-peer (P2P) monitoring
  • good interface
  • customer support
Cons
  • email is only way to retrieve data
  • no screenshots
  • insecure data
  • limited features
verdict: Missing features. Decent software.

While it is more expensive than most, this fairly intuitive, well-designed monitoring system is (almost) worth the price of admission. What it lacks in blocking capabilities, it makes up for in ease of use and monitoring might.

In fact, aside from no blocking capacity, really the only thing this feature-rich product is missing is a way to view the recorded data away from the computer being monitored. Unfortunately, this is a significant problem in our eyes.

After all, do you really want to be taking the chance of hurriedly digging through your kids/spouse’s computer looking for and combing through the recorded files? If you’re trying to be even the least bit secretive, spending time on the monitored computer while looking over your shoulder is not good.

As for more positives, it is the only substantial monitoring software for the Mac, so Spector Pro can rightfully claim to be a cross-platform industry leader that consistently delivers a quality product.

Spector Pro
Pros
  • good interface
  • peer-to-peer monitoring
  • customer support
  • Mac OSX support
Cons
  • data must be manually retrieved from monitored computer OR
  • emailed via “eBlaster” (doubles the price)
verdict: Good interface. Hard to view data.

It’s not the easiest program to use, and some may say that it has too many options, but as perhaps the single most feature intensive monitoring software available, Spy Agent by SpyTech is still a standout performer.

At a reasonable $69.95 you certainly get your money’s worth in terms of customizable control. Our biggest complaint with this software is that it can be a little overwhelming.

Like most good software on this page, SpyAgent is more than simple “spy software” or a so-called “password stealer”–it has many tools that together can present a clear picture of what’s happening on a given computer.

Spy Agent
Pros
  • feature intensive
  • reasonable price
  • customizable
  • blocks IM/chat
  • keyword filtering
Cons
  • not easy to use
  • overwhelming
  • poor keylogging
  • customer service
verdict: overwhelming to use.

ContentProtect, by ContentWatch, has come out of nowhere to establish itself as a very capable internet filter. With an easy override feature that lets you instantly unblock a site that has fallen victim to “overblocking”, the folks at Content Watch have managed to get around a problem that has plagued many internet filtering applications.

The drawback of ContentProtect is that it lacks any real monitoring capabilities, so this product is really better suited to parents of younger kids only.

Anyone with “tweens” or teenagers needs an application that shows you what your kids are up to rather than just block websites.

ContentProtect
Pros
  • customizable
  • visually appealing
  • web interface
  • inexpensive
  • for young kids
Cons
  • limited features
  • no email monitoring
  • no stealth option
  • not for teens
  • No Mac support
verdict: very limited functionality.

Guardian Monitor is a solid, if unpolished offering. On paper it has the potential to be quite a good product; however, the overall exucution of the features is where it’s lacking. On occasion it missed recording some data, but for the most part the product performed well.

Regrettably, the user interface is just not on par with the other polished, professional applications its in competition with, thus dragging the software’s overall appeal down quite a bit in our eyes.

Its biggest stand-out feature is probably its P2P (peer-to-peer) functionality, which allows parents to see what files their kids are downloading.

With the growing popularity of peer-to-peer network applications, this is a nice feature. (With P2P networks reputation for being illegal sources of copyrighted material, this is a cause of concern for many parents.)

Guardian Monitor
Pros
  • good peer-to-peer (P2P) monitoring
  • optional stealth mode
  • affordable
Cons
  • poorly designed user interface
  • no automatic screenshots
  • weak email recording functionality
  • not for business use
verdict: Good P2P; weak interface.

Though the name intimates some kind of Orwellian evil, this kid-friendly product is a decent, but unexceptional monitor. Given its name and the package artwork, it’s pretty clear the intended audience are those primarily interested in parental monitoring, yet for parental control software it lacks some functions we expect to see from such a tool.

The user interface is simple and easy to navigate, but it lacks some key features such as a help function. Unfortunately, even with its simple design, finding the data you want can be a bit of a challenge, so knowing where to look is fairly imporant.

For its part the program has a decent stealth mode that the program runs in by default, making it tough to mistakenly leave the software running in plain view.

IamBigBrother
Pros
  • Has optional web-based access
  • good main interface screen
  • easy to setup
  • auto time-based screenshots or of typed words
Cons
  • Expensive with web-based access
  • weak search functions
  • weak secondary screens
  • weak IM interface
  • limited screenshot offering
  • no phone support
verdict: Weak UI. Limited features.

Net Nanny is perhaps the most recognized name in the internet filtering business. Despite that recognition, however, it’s just not up to par as a monitor when compared with the competition.

If you’re just trying to clean up the internet for kids under the age of ten, then this software might be a reasonable purchase. But if you have older kids, there are more complete solutions that offer more insight into what’s happening on your computer.

It’s cheap, easy and effective for young kids, but aside from that, especially when older kids enter the picture, its weaknesses begin to show. Really, it does not do much more than block web sites, but in that capacity–in terms of policing the internet, it’s a great value for money.

NetNanny
Pros
  • affordable
  • blocks websites
  • time control
  • interface
Cons
  • no image filtering
  • limited features
  • low effectiveness
verdict: very limited functionality.

For the price Cybersitter 9.0 isn’t a bad buy but be prepared for some frustration. At times a little overzealous, you may find that it’s web site blocking may be a bit overzealous for you if you find too many tame web sites getting blocked.

If you’ve got really young kids, however, and are just looking for an extra hand in cleaning up the internet, this may be a viable option for you. If you have older children, you should probably look elsewhere.

Despite some claims about its monitoring capabilities, Cybersitter is really just for blocking objectionable content and limiting the time that a child can be on the computer. For anything else, you’re going to need software that allows you to block and monitor Internet activity.

CyberSitter
Pros
  • blocks content
  • good interface
Cons
  • limited monitoring
  • over simplistic
  • no web interface
verdict: limited monitoring capabilities.
 


 

 Notes about reviewed software:
  1. WebWatcher was formerly known as “Ultraview Plus.”
  2. NetNanny is commonly misspelled as “Net Nany” and also as “Net Nannie”; these misspellings are all searches for exactly the same monitoring software.
  3. SpectorPro is commonly misspelled as both “Specter Pro” and also as “SpecterPro”; these, too, are all the same product.
  4.  Live steaming leaflet distribution software, distributed by Wozza to download now visit www.leafletdistributioninlondon.com