To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Brightfilter Parental Control review

Brightfilter Parental Control
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £25
inc VAT

This competent web filtering services is a much better fit for British social mores than most of its American counterparts, making it a sensible choice for wary parents.

Brightfilter sounds like an appealing product for protecting your children from the internet’s dark places, as it’s used by many UK primary schools. It allows you to control exactly which websites can be accessed by your PCs’ users but has no monitoring capabilities, such as for IM or online chatrooms. Although it uses McAfee’s TrustedSource site reputation system for its filtering, Brightfilter’s categories are tuned to British culture and standards.

It’s easy to set up but you’ll have to make sure your users don’t have administrator access to your PC or they’ll simply be able to uninstall it. You can create Brightfilter accounts for every member of your family, as well as applying a general profile to all web activity on your PC. This is a great way of allowing casual browsing, safe in the knowledge that your kids will have to come to you before viewing challenging subject matter.

Medical sites, including those providing information on STDs and addiction, are accessible in all profile modes, as are photo sharing sites, online shopping and approved news sources. Any category, including those classified as safe, can be blocked using a custom profile. You can also set time limits for both general and specific user accounts and add specific sites to a list so that they’re either always allowed or always blocked. We were pleased to find that sites promoting self-harm and anorexia were largely blocked under the Gruesome Content and Extreme categories.

There are several different pre-set Filter Profiles to choose from, marked by film certificate style symbols. All were configured in an effective and age-appropriate manner, and didn’t unnecessarily block useful content. Adults using the 18 profile can access everything that isn’t rated as malware, spyware or illegal. The 15 profile is for mature teenagers. It’s fairly relaxed, but blocks gambling, cheating materials, porn and racism, including some political parties.

Profiles for younger users block more. The 12 rating blocks dating sites, usenet, P2P software and online auctions; the Guidance profile blocks Wikipedia, as well as SMS messaging sites and personal web pages; and the All profile allows young children to safely browse the web without accidentally running into anything disturbing. It blocks web ads, image searches, online games and real-time chat applications. The Brightfilter profile is very similar, but tweaked to meet the requirements of primary schools.

Brightfilter did better than most against our test sites, although some fairly graphic nude images and some hate material slipped though the net. It’s worth blocking image search results if you’re concerned about tiny pornographic thumbnails, even though obvious keyword searches are blocked.

Unlike many popular US products, Brightfilter is a good match for British law and culture. It recognises a lot of sites that US services like CyberSitter missed. It’s low maintenance and we liked the reassurance of being able to configure it to require authorisation to view challenging sites. Brightfilter provides a very similar service to Bluecoat’s free K9 Web Protection service. However, as Brightfilter is tuned for a UK audience, parents will probably find it produces better results.


Price £25
Rating ****