REFOG Overview May 2020
With two teenagers in the house, I was looking for parental control software that would allow me to know what my kids are doing on the computer.
Even though it doesn’t have time management tools or a web filter (which I think are very important) the keylogger and screenshot features will let me know exactly what the kids are doing on the computer at all times.
I wanted to test and compare REFOG with the 50+ parental control apps I’ve used in the past few months.
I got a great price on a single device license from this hidden page on the REFOG website, and it has a 7-day satisfaction guarantee.
I installed REFOG on my teens’ Windows 10 laptop (according to the REFOG FAQ, it also works with Windows Vista, 7, and 8), and it immediately started recording everything they were doing on the computer. By everything I mean, keylogging, screenshots, browsing history, and more. A unique feature that I didn’t see with other software I tested is the Webcam Shots. It activates the computer’s webcam and takes a picture, so I can see who is using it, and what they’re doing.
The dashboard is where you can see all the keylogger, webcam, and website history. You can either open the application by pressing SHIFT+CTRL+ALT+K at the same time or login to your REFOG account online and view the web-based dashboard.
Tracks Every Keystroke
This is one of the most prominent features of REFOG and, at the same time, one of the reasons I was hesitant to put it on my kids’ computer. It’s basically the key to their private diary, recording everything that is typed. This means in chat rooms, Word documents, Google Docs, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp Web, and more. If they’re typing it, REFOG is saving it and storing it in the dashboard. In addition to the keystrokes, you’ll have information on what website or app they were using and the timestamp.
Screenshots and Webcams
I’ve seen the screenshot feature in several parental control apps and I don’t really know who has the time to go through hundreds of images. One nice thing about REFOG is on the dashboard there is a slideshow feature, so at least I didn’t have to keep clicking next. I really liked that I can sort the images by application type, the title of the active window, and of course date and time. This made it much easier to find relevant screenshots. The screenshot is both on a 5-minute timer and will take a screenshot anytime a new window opens.
The webcam is something I haven’t seen on any other app. The only situation I can see its value is if you have multiple kids using the computer. If you see on the website log, screenshots, or keylog that someone on the computer went to a porn site (for example), there is no need to ask each kid what they’re doing online. The webcam gives you all the incriminating evidence you need. It’s set to work on a timer and take a picture every 5 minutes, although you can go to the settings and change the frequency.
Of course, it’s easy enough to block, at some point one of my kids just put a piece of tape over the camera.
Browsing History and Social Media Monitoring
I like that instead of just providing a list of the websites visited, REFOG also shows the page title and either a screenshot or a clickable link, so I can easily see what the site is, even if I don’t recognize the URL. You can click on the image to see a higher definition picture in fullscreen mode.
REFOG has a social media monitoring feature that tracks Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, and Telegram. I’m not sure what added value this has other than making this information easier to see than having to scroll through the general screenshot or browsing history sections.
Lacks Parental Control Features
It feels strange to penalize REFOG for not having screen time limits and a web filter since they are a monitoring tool. However, I found that in order to fully monitor my kids I needed to have both REFOG and another software program running simultaneously.
Even though I knew that I would get a virus alert when downloading the REFOG file, I still find it a bit disturbing. This is due to the nature of the software that can take screenshots and access the webcam, it appears as malware or spyware.
I had to temporarily turn off my virus scanner, just long enough to download the file and change the setting Safe Browsing setting in Chrome, which also prevented the download. Once that was done, I downloaded the ZIP file from the REFOG website, unzipped it, and restarted my computer.
Ease of Use9.6
Once I installed the software on the computer it started working in the background right away. I was able to access the dashboard from anywhere and look through the data. Both the web-based and application dashboard are very easy to manage. You can change the frequency of the screenshots and webcam pictures or set them to go off with every mouse click if you want. The dashboard also has a search feature and slideshow option that will help you go through the data quickly and efficiently.
REFOG doesn’t have a live chat option, however, there is an in-depth FAQ section that does a good job of answering most questions. If you have a question that requires customer support you can open a ticket or send an email through the customer support portal. You will need to create a separate customer support account to access this portal. I opened a few tickets to test the response time, and received answers to my questions within 24 hours.
💰Is REFOG free?
I noticed that REFOG has a page on its website called “Free Keyloggers”. However, it appears that this is an old offer. Other than a free 3-day trial, REFOG is a subscription-based software. Downloading a cracked REFOG file can lead to issues such as data mining, and malware since you don’t know who is behind it, and if they added any malicious code into the software.
🔍Is keylogging illegal?
When it comes to using it on your children, who are minors, there is no question that it’s 100% legal to install on their computers. The question of legality is more relevant for business owners who install it on an employee’s computer without their knowledge. Then it will depend on local laws, what’s written in the contracts, and other factors.
🖥Does REFOG have mobile apps?
REFOG only works with Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and macOS 10.5-10.15. REFOG does have a mobile app called Hoverwatch that works with Android, but can’t be used together with REFOG.
❓Can I use a single license for both Windows and Mac?
REFOG has separate subscription offers for Windows and Mac, although the price is the same for both platforms. If you want to combine Mac and WIndows to a single subscription you will need to get the subscription package that includes 3 devices and open a customer support ticket and request a license for the second platform.
💻How to download REFOG with an antivirus?
Most antivirus programs will flag REFOG as malware, therefore you have to turn it off while the file is downloading and then add the file folder as an exception, so it won’t scan it.
If Safe Browsing is enabled in the Chrome settings, it will also block the download. You can fix this by going Chrome > Settings > Privacy and Security > More > Turn off Safe Browsing. Once this is done, you shouldn’t have any trouble downloading and installing REFOG.
REFOG has two subscription plans. The first one includes 1 device, either Windows or Mac, and the second option protects 3 devices.
If you sign up for the monthly plan, both plans are on the expensive side. However, I found that it was much cheaper to get the annual package from this hidden page.
I tested the 3-day money-back guarantee and was able to get a full refund, even though I made the request near the end of the third day.
REFOG offers the following plans
Pros & Cons
- Records every action done on the computer
- Takes screenshots and webcam shots
- Easy set up
- No web filter
- No time management controls