Parental Control Bar

Price: Free, Outdated, and NOT recommended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.

Outdated, Unreliable Technology

Parental Control Bar utilizes the outdated ICRA PICS voluntary self-labeling system.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.

Unstable, Crashes Often

Once installed, Parental Control Bar crashes IE on the first launch after the installation on an up-to-date XP system with all the latest hotfixes and patches from Microsoft and with JavaScript enabled.  You have to use the Windows Task Manager to End Task on the browser to get control back.  When you launch IE after this crash/freeze, Parental Control Bar automatically switches to Parent mode, not Child mode without regard to whether it is the parent or child using the computer, thereby defeating the protection.

Fails to Block Unsafe Searches

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.

Will Not Uninstall

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’.

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9 Responses to Parental Control Bar – All Aggravation, no help

  • ppj says:

    What a load of rubbish – use the REVO uninstaller to get rid of this junk. It automates the task of deleting registry entries and files. Parental Control Bar is simply the worst software I have ever come across, that wasn’t actually intended as malware.

  • Neelabh says:

    Thanks a lot for posting such an invaluable informative article on Children Safety in Cyberspace. I have never used this tool and after reading this article, I will never use it and nor do I will recommend this to anyone else to use.

    Thanks for the Fore-warning! 🙂

    I hope that you won’t mind if I post this URL in my website for further study by netizens.

  • ebel says:

    I want this off my son’s computer now I’m temped to call the BBB for this matter

  • ebel says:

    this is a hot mess this program won’t let me uninstall from my son’s computer it does not work this program still alows adult vidoes through the websites

  • Luke says:

    I got helps from follow link and deleted the parentalcontrol bar. 🙂

  • anna says:

    how do you un-install it? i installed it thinking it would help but it refuses to let me un-install despite typing the password multiple times!

    • InetDaemon says:

      The removal process is not easy. If you don’t know how to use the Windows Registry Editor, you should take the computer to a professional to have the Parental Control Bar removed. Editing the Windows Registry is dangerous and can leave your computer in an unusable state if you make a mistake.

      The general process I used was to boot the computer in safe mode and log in as the local administrator (if your computer prompts for a logon). I opened the registry editor and backed up the registry by clicking the File menu and selecting Export. Next, I did a search in the registry editor for “Parental Control Bar” and “parentalcontrol”, determined whether the key pointed to something in the Parental Control Bar application folder. If it did, I deleted all the key, and marked others down as suspect. I next deleted the Parental Control Bar application folder from the directory “C:\Program Files”. Finally, I rebooted the computer in normal mode. That seemed to do the trick.