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Recent studies have shown that as much as 70 percent of young people voluntarily post personal information online, including photos and videos of themselves along with details of where they live. An even higher percentage of young people have reported that they have been educated by their parents about the dangers of providing this information. This trend is alarming to say the least. Another disturbing issue is the number of young people who have met (8 percent), or admit they’d be willing to meet (16 percent), a stranger they had talked to online. There are 600,000 registered sex offenders in the USA. Worse yet, there are an estimated 150,000 unregistered sex offenders who are roaming freely and unchecked in our communities. These statistics are certainly unsettling and show that just talking to your children might not always be enough.
Guardian Monitor 9.0 is an application designed to monitor and record just about everything that goes on at your computer. This includes emails, chat conversations, websites visited, peer-to-peer downloading, and even keystrokes. In addition, you have the option to block websites and capture time-lapsed video recordings of your computer screen (or the computer to which it’s been installed). Guardian Monitor 9.0 can be run for all to see, or it can be run in stealth mode so that only you will know it’s there.
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Help & SupportRating
Guardian Monitor 9.0 offers email support, Monday thru Friday. The application includes an in-depth Help file which should answer any questions you may have. They also have a very detailed knowledge base section on their website, which they claim their own technicians use. It is unlikely that you will need to contact them due to the informative Help files.
Guardian Monitor 9.0 does not offer telephone support, but as mentioned in the “hot" section, it probably would not be required due to the thoroughness of the Help files.
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Price to ValueRating
At $39.95, Guardian Monitor 9.0 is certainly competitively priced. By way of comparison, SpyAgent costs $69.95, IamBigBrother costs $29.95, and Spector Pro costs $99.95. Given Guardian Monitor 9.0’s very extensive set of features, it’s undoubtedly an excellent value for your money.
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Installation & SetupRating
Guardian Monitor 9.0 will work with Windows 98 SE, 2000, Me, and XP.
I had no trouble installing or setting up Guardian Monitor 9.0. Once installed, a “tip of the day" window popped up, giving me the choice to run Guardian Monitor 9.0 in stealth mode. The window also provided me with the hot keys to call up the application and the option to change the hot keys.
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I’d have to say the user interface for Guardian Monitor 9.0 is mediocre. It's not exactly hot, but not bad enough to fall into the “not" section of this review. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. In fact, it’s outright bland. Things are laid out simply enough, but less is not always more. If you know your stuff when it comes to monitoring software, the UI may be alright for you. However, if you’ve never used this sort of application you might have to do a lot of jumping around to figure out the purpose of some of the functions and options. In other words, there is no explanation of anything throughout the UI. It’s merely a check-or-uncheck relationship. Guardian Monitor 9.0’s UI lacks the sophistication that people have come to expect from modern software.
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When Guardian Monitor 9.0 is run in stealth mode it is invisible to the user. There were no obvious effects on the performance of the PC.
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Security & PrivacyRating
For Guardian Monitor 9.0 to be able to send you email alerts, you must configure your firewall settings to allow GDNtfy.exe to access the Internet.
Guardian Monitor 9.0 has accomplished a task that some of its competitors have a hard time tackling. They claim AntiSpyware and other popular Spyware Detectors will not detect Guardian Monitor 9.0, so these security products should not need to be disabled to run Guardian Monitor.
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Guardian Monitor 9.0's many features make it easy for you to see what your kids are up to. There are too many features to name them all in this review; instead I’ll outline these five key features:
RUN TAB [See Image3]
- In stealth mode the application runs invisibly. Because it’s invisible, you’ll need to type in a combination of keys (hot keys) to call up the application.
- You have the option to create a message that displays whenever a user logs on (“Warning, this system is being monitored!").
- The Monitor Database feature allows you to store recorded information that can be changed to suit your needs.
MONITOR TAB [See Image 4]
- The video feature takes snapshots of your computer screen at set intervals and only when there is activity.
- The history feature records all websites visited. You can click on any URL in the list of websites and your browser will take you there. This option works with Internet Explorer, Opera, Netscape Navigator, and AOL (7.0, 8.0, and 9.0 browser).
- Guardian Monitor captures and records both sides of a conversation with instant messaging and chat rooms. The programs supported are MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ Lite, AOL Instant Messenger, and AOL 7.0, 8.0, and 9.0.
- Like the Chat/IM’s, recorded emails are divided into two parts on the screen. Simply click the title you wish to view and it displays on the lower half of the window. Supported applications and protocols are Microsoft Outlook Express, Eudora, AOL 7.0, 8.0, and 9.0, AOL Classic, SMTP, and POP3.
Selecting the download option enables the software to monitor all files downloaded from peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. The information recorded includes the P2P application used, the user’s name, the time, and the file’s name, type and details, as it appears in the P2P network. Supported applications are KaZaA, KaZaA Lite, and Gnutella clients including LimeWire, Shareaza, BearShare, and Morpheus.
Guardian Monitor will record all keystrokes. The list includes the user name, the time, and the application used. WATCH TAB [See Image 5]
- The Watch feature flags words and phrases. There are built-in categories, and a configurable section allowing you to define your own set of up to 50 words and phrases.
EMAIL TAB [See Image 6]
- This option is great if you are monitoring a computer other than your own. It might be next to impossible to get onto a child’s computer if they are always on it, or if you are monitoring them without their knowledge. It could also prove useful if you are away from home and want to continue to monitor your teens.
BLOCK TAB [See Image 7]
- Guardian Monitor 9.0 will let you block websites. You have the option to block just certain users, or you can block sites from all users. When users attempt to visit a blocked website, they will get an “Error 404 Page Not Found" message or you can customize the message to say whatever you want. [See Image 8]
This version of Guardian Monitor does not support Hotmail or Yahoo Mail. You’ll need the Professional version for those, which is unfortunate since Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are popular with kids. According to Guardian Monitor’s Help section on its website with regard to monitoring email, Guardian Monitor is unable to capture email attachments. Therefore, if you have devious children who know you are monitoring them, they may be able to let some things slip under your radar. Likewise, it cannot capture images sent through instant messengers.
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As mentioned previously, it'd be nice to see Guardian Monitor 9.0 have the ability to monitor email attachments and images sent through instant messaging.
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With Guardian Monitor 9.0, you get exactly what you paid for. It performs reliably, the help and support is extensive, and the product features are excellent. With all the horror stories you hear on the news and in the papers, why not take an extra step to protect your children and allow yourself that piece of mind?
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IamBigBrother, SpyAgent, Golden Eye