Sentry Parental Controls offers a way to remotely monitor and control your child's PC use.
Sentry Parental Controls takes a very different approach to Sentry Stick, both a means to protect your children and your personal data when online. While the latter concentrates on an external USB device that is straightforward to use and understand, Sentry Parental Controls is slightly more complex. It is a software-based solution that allows you to monitor activity on a PC from any location via the internet.
Sentry Parental Controls itself is a small download that installs on the PC you wish to monitor, but this is only one part of the program and not in itself especially innovative. What is more impressive about Sentry Parental Controls is the web site account, for which you must pay a yearly subscription fee.
As such, configuration of the client program on the PC is very straightforward, offering only a few default options. From the remote-accessing PC, you select the PC and user that you wish to monitor within the application and, if necessary, make further changes to various settings.
These settings are comprehensive but reflect those of a number of similar programs. Thus you can restrict access to different types of site, determine whether certain words are blocked, prevent applications from loading, and set the times which a child is allowed to surf the web.
Once saved, these settings are downloaded to the client PC and implemented more or less immediately.
There are also plenty of log options to view activity on the PC, but where Sentry Parental Controls really stands out is in terms of its live monitoring options. These can be as simple as emails or texts sent when a violation takes place or simply when a user logs on. It is also possible to get screenshots that will then be sent or stored for a later date.
Finally, the Live Action window allows you to check in real time what applications are open on a PC, send messages to the user at the other end to shut down the client computer, or to simply record activity.
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Sentry Parental Controls is in a class of its own and probably represents a level of overkill for most parents, but if you want the most comprehensive protection software this must be it. The only thing against it is the price – that listed here is for a yearly subscription via download, and a boxed version with licenses for three PCs is nearly £40.