SpyAgent is a monitoring and content filtering application that records details of emails sent and received, applications opened, chat conversations, and a whole lot more. SpyAgent can be configured to either announce its presence on the computer or to operate invisibly behind the scenes. The program is password protected. Only you, and anybody you share the password with, can access its logs or change its settings.
SpyAgent has an extensive set of features that will enable you to record just about anything and everything that happens on the computer on which it’s been installed.
Price to Value (4 out of 5)
At $69.95 for a one-computer license SpyAgent is not the cheapest monitoring product on the market, but nor is it the most expensive. It provides far more features than much of the competition and certainly represents good value for money. Pricing is on a sliding scale meaning the more licenses you buy, the cheaper the price of each license.
Help & Support (4 out of 5)
SpyAgent has detailed online Help file, FAQ’s and guides. Spytech doesn’t offer telephone support but they do provide 24/7 support via webform. I sent in a request asking whether the program had any incompatibilities with Windows Vista (not very original, I know, but I was feeling uninspired at the time). A few hours later, I received a reply stating, “No program runs under Vista.” A correction quickly followed: “There is no issue & program runs under Vista.” Thanks, Spytech, for both the speedy response and the laugh (whether it was intentional or not).
Installation & Setup (4 out of 5)
SpyAgent is a small 2.61 MB download. It works with Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista and can run on pretty much any hardware.
Installation and configuration is a snap. You can choose to install either in Administrator/Tester mode or in Stealth mode (the differences are explained in the screenshot).
[insert screen Setup]
SpyAgent can be configured manually or you can choose to have a wizard walk you through the setup.
[insert screen Configuration]
Whichever option you choose, the process is pretty straightforward and most of the functions and options are self-explanatory.
Should you be running any form of security software, chances are that alarm bells will start ringing as soon as you attempt to install SpyAgent. Even Windows Defender pops up a warning.
[insert screen Windows Defender]
SpyAgent offers to fix this problem for you by providing an option to “Disable Spyware Detectors”.
[insert screen security]
That didn’t work and the warnings continued to pop up. On one hand, this is not bad thing. I would hate to think that my security applications could be so easily disabled. On the other hand, it’s a bad thing. In order to conceal SpyAgent’s presence you may need to either completely disable your security programs (an unfavorable option) or find some means of configuring them to ignore or trust SpyAgent.
You can configure SpyAgent to send its logs to your e-mail address. When I tried that it didn’t work with the default settings and I had to make some adjustments. This is something which an inexperienced user could find quite difficult.
I encountered an error when attempting to perform certain tasks, but the problem is documented in the FAQ’s and the solution works.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
Given its very extensive set of features, you might think that SpyAgent’s interface would be cluttered. That’s not the case and Spytech have done a very good job at keeping things both intuitive and simple.
[insert screen User interface]
It’s easy to work out where you need to go and do what you need to do. All the controls are easily accessible and, on the whole, self-explanatory.
The color sceam is horrendous and tacky. Thankfully, it’s only the main screen that is purple and blue. Other areas of the program are plain old grey and place much less of a strain on the eyes.
Product Features (4 out of 5)
SpyAgent has an extensive set of features and provides all the functionality that you would expect to find in a program of this type, and then some. In fact, SpyAgent’s features are too extensive to list here in their entirety, but to provide you with a taster they include:
- Keystroke logging.
- Chat client logging.
- Email logging.
- Clipboard logging.
- Screenshot capturing with image quality configurable.
- An optional and configurable splash screen to alert users to the fact that they are being monitored.
- Scheduled or keyword-triggered (smart) logging.
- Email and FTP log delivery.
- Website logging.
- Printer logging.
- Lockdown scheduling.
With SpyAgent’s extensive range of features you can capture both sides of the conversation in popular chat clients such as ICQ, MSN Messenger and AOL/AIM. You can see see the contents and the identity of the sender or recipient of both incoming and outgoing emails. It also enables you to automatically capture screenshots of the desktop which you can subsequently view as a slideshow. You can see a list of websites visited and the amount of time that was spent on each website and search the logs for a specific word (an address or telephone number, for example). SpyAgent can also show which applications were opened and how long they were open and much, much more. It’s all rather chilling, really.
[insert screen Log]
For a full list of features, see the SpyAgent website; (https://www.spytech-web.com/spyagent-features.shtml ).
Log files can either be viewed locally (on the computer on which SpyAgent is installed) or can be automatically sent to an email address of your choice or even uploaded via FTP to a specified location to be viewed remotely.
SpyAgent will certainly provide you with a very comprehensive and very detailed overview of the activities taking place on the computer on which it’s installed. In fact, there really isn’t very much that it missed. Each of its features work exactly as advertised (well, except for “Disable Spyware Detectors”).
While SpyAgent’s monitoring and logging capabilities are excellent, its content filtering capabilities are less than stellar. In fact, they are surprisingly rudimentary. Basically, you can choose to block specific URL’s or you can choose to block URL’s that contain specified keywords. It’s actually more basic than the functionality that’s already present in Windows. If you are looking for a content filter that will proactively protect your kids from undesirable material, then you should undoubtedly look to a program other than SpyAgent.
Performance (4 out of 5)
SpyAgent runs transparently. When running in Stealth mode it’s invisible to the person using the computer and it has no noticeable impact on performance.
As already mentioned, I did encounter some post-installation errors. Following the steps outlined in the FAQ provided an easy remedy, but it’s nonetheless something which should be fixed.
The SpyAgent website claims that the product “Defeats Microsoft™ AntiSpyware and other popular Spyware Detectors.” I would say that’s incorrect: SpyAgent certainly didn’t defeat any of the security applications that I was running. And this is a major problem. While it’s comforting to know that your security products cannot be so easily disabled, you may find that you cannot run SpyAgent silently unless those products are disabled. I was able to stop the warnings from my security products simply by configuring them to ignore SpyAgent. Whether or not the same can be achieved with other security products, I don’t know.
Matters of morality, and possibly, legality, are beyond the scope of this review. With that in mind, I would have to say that anybody who feels that they need such a product should definitely consider SpyAgent. But try before you buy to make sure that you can make it work alongside whatever security products you have installed.
Golden Eye, IamBigBrother, Net Nanny