Invu Sentry Stick full review

SentryStick is a hardware USB stick and software solution that gives complete control over what children can do on a PC

The Internet is a great resource, but also presents a number of concerns for parents. As well as inappropriate content, there is also the problem that your children may give out private information to strangers.

SentryStick from Invu takes a quite different approach to the various packages that have been developed in recent years to monitor and protect children online. Rather than providing software that restricts access according to your settings, SentryStick combines that software with a simple to use hardware device, based on a portable 1GB USB flash memory drive. Once plugged in and installed, SentryStick can be configured so that the user will only be able to access sites and applications that you specify.

Maintaining security is simplicity itself: if the stick is removed, then maximum restrictions are applied, locking the computer so that it is only suitable for homework, for example by blocking all network connections to the Internet.

Configuration is also very straightforward. After the software is installed, you are taken through a number of screens that allow you to specify such things as which types of site or applications are restricted.

The ease of use would be even higher for this product if it were not for the fact that installing our early release version was rather awkward on Windows Vista (but fine on XP).

When running in hidden mode, SentryStick monitors all activity on the computer and logs violations and other actions such as chat messages. Entering your password allows you to view those logs (which can be quite comprehensive) as well as change individual settings. There is a built in database of sites and words that are banned - the latter being censored and, if entered into a search engine, will not provide any results.

As well as restricting access to applications (useful, for example, if there are games on a PC that are unsuitable for young players), you can also use SentryStick to prevent printing other than from certain applications. If you wish your children to print from Word but not reams of pages from the web, then simply select from a list of installed programs for which printing will be enabled.

For privacy, register words and phrases (such as phone numbers) that will be blocked should users try to send them online.

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Invu Sentry Stick: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista, Intel Pentium 300, 128MB RAM, 10MB hard disk space, USB 1.1 port