Price: Free, Outdated, and NOT recommended
To help out a friend with four kids, I tried installing the Parental Control Bar from WRAAC. The tool is SO bad that I won’t provide the link to it here–for several reasons.
Parental Control Bar utilizes the outdated ICRA PICS voluntary self-labeling system. Since adding ICRA PICS content labels to a website is completely voluntary on the part of the webmaster, most websites do not contain these content labels. Parental Control Bar claims that if the site contains no content lables, it checks 3rd party content labels. I used a protocol analyzer and saw no outgoing requests to any sites other than the sites I browsed. Parental Control Bar did not appear to actually check with any 3rd party label sites. Having failed to find lables within the page, failed to actually contact a 3rd party label provider, the Parental Control Bar resorts to a ‘feature’ that blocks sites that do not contain any content labels–but this only results Parental Control Bar blocking nearly all web sites by default, including nearly all the safe children’s sites. This would cause parents to have to sit over their child’s shoulder and type in the password for every single website the child accesses.
Parental Control bar doesn’t block porn searches in search engines and fails utterly to protect against other types of unsafe searches. It’s technology is definitely behind the times. This is yet another reason advise not installing this software–it doesn’t help. I’ve also seen reports that it does not save the list of blocked or safe sites in some cases. These lists get reset every time the web browser is closed.
Worst of all, once installed, Parental Control Bar will not uninstall. It uses a password protection mechanism to keep your kids from changing from Child Mode to Parent mode or uninstalling the software without the password. When I tried to uninstall the software from the account that installed it (a local Administrator) using the correct password, the software ‘informed’ me that the password was incorrect, even though I had just used it to switch from Child to Parent mode.
The average Windows user can’t remove the Parental Control Bar because the Add/Remove Programs uninstall option triggers the software to ask for the password and rejects everything you type in, complaining that even the correct password is ‘incorrect’.