ContentBarrier X5 review

Most Mac users seem to get by without using anti-virus software, but there are other nasty surprises out there on the internet that you might need a bit of help with. Parents will want to protect their children from unsuitable websites, and may also want to take additional steps, such as monitoring chat sessions and emails to make sure no inappropriate language is being used.

Intego’s ContentBarrier X5 is designed to block these sorts of threats. It’s primarily aimed at parents, but Intego says it’s also suitable for businesses that want to prevent employees from wasting time on the internet.

The program is easy to set up and use. When you launch it for the first time it asks which user accounts you want to protect on your Mac, and will prompt you to set up new user accounts for your children if you haven’t done that already. Once the user accounts have been set up, ContentBarrier guides you through the various settings one at a time so that you can adjust the level of protection required for each account.

The first step is to set the web-filtering options. You can tell ContentBarrier to filter out specific types of website, such as adult sites, or sites that contain violent or racist material. Business users can also block job-hunting sites or time-wasting social sites such as Facebook. Alternatively, you can create your own list of ‘allowed’ websites, and limit access to just the sites on that list.

The next option is to choose whether or not you want ContentBarrier to monitor messages sent via programs such as iChat or MSN Messenger. As well as filtering out bad language, the program can also watch out for potentially ‘predatory’ phrases, such as ‘are you alone?’ or ‘can we meet?’.

Other options include the ability to block the use of specific programs, such as violent games, or instant-messaging programs, and to create a schedule that only allows internet access at certain times of day. There’s also a Web Administration feature that allows you to control ContentBarrier remotely over the internet, so that you can monitor your children’s activities even when you’re away from home.

OUR VERDICT

ContentBarrier worked very effectively during our tests, and blocked all the unsuitable websites we attempted to visit while it was active. Our only real complaint is that it’s a little pricey. For example, the Mac version of Net Nanny (which, incidentally, was co-developed by Net Nanny and Intego) costs £22.50 at www.amazon.co.uk – compared to £39.99 for ContentBarrier.

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