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Great Content Filtering for PCs: Windows Live Family Safety 2011


A Good Content Filtering Option for PC Users

Web content filtering is something we’ve always recommended.  It’s essential to protect your computer and, much more importantly, your family from malware and harmful content on the internet.

Recently, we’ve found ourselves working with Windows Live Family Safety 2011 both in clients’ homes and in our own as well.  We haven't been too crazy about previous versions of Microsoft's filtering software, but we're pretty impressed by this latest one.  It’s easy to use, it does its job well, and it’s free as a part of Windows Live Essentials, a software suite available to all Windows 7 users.  While it’s not perfect, we feel like Windows Live Family Safety 2011 is a good solution for basic web filtering for PC users.


WLFS gives you the ability to set unique filtering preferences for each member of your family, as long as they each have different login accounts on your computer.  When it comes to filtering, parents can choose between five levels of strictness for each account.  Perhaps the most handy component of the software is the availability of whitelisting and blacklisting.  This means that you could set a particular login account (for a younger child, for instance) to only be able to visit a few websites that you explicitly approve.  It also gives you the ability to allow sites you feel are OK or necessary for your child to view even if the filter initially won’t allow them.

WLFS has other notable features that give parents great control over their children’s web activity, such as activity reporting, the ability to set time limits, the ability to restrict use of certain programs, and more.  Furthermore, users set and change all the settings from the WLFS web page, meaning that you can make changes remotely.  So it really is a robust product, especially considering that it doesn’t cost anything extra with Windows 7.

A Few Kinks, But Still a Great Product

We will recognize, though, that it does have a few kinks.  While it’s mostly easy to set up and easy to use, others have noticed the appearance of errors during setup.  Fortunately, these errors are usually easily (albeit inconveniently) fixed by simply restarting the computer.  WLFS is also fairly slow on the draw to apply changes that you make, sometimes taking up to an hour to put them into play.  And we noticed that “blocked content” messages can get a little annoying at times, distracting your attention with fade-in message windows especially when you navigate to sites that have images or videos embedded from a source that WLFS doesn’t like.

Overall, though, we feel confident implementing WLFS for our clients.  Sure, there may be instances where some of the other options out there are better for particular families’ needs.  WLFS, though, is probably a good option for most PC users.

How Do I Get Windows Live Family Safety 2011?

To download the software, visit Microsoft's web page, click Download, and follow the prompts.  Note that you'll need to have a Windows Live ID, which you can create or free if you don't already have one.  You'll also need either Windows 7 or Windows Vista with Service Pack 2.  Feel free to shout out if you'd like help or have any questions!