Email spy SurveilStar may have some great features, like the ability to save email attachments, but overall, it misses the mark. There's no need for great features in an email monitoring software if the user can't figure out how to use them quickly and easily or can't even get the software to work.

If you are looking to jump into an email monitoring system and get it running during your lunch break or before work, forget it with this software. It is nearly impossible to use without reading the instruction manual. The control panel has way too many options that are disorganized and not placed in intuitive positions at all. Setting up one monitoring option seems to require three or more different pop-up boxes and panels be clicked, ticked or filled in with information. This means that if you want to monitor more than just emails, the procedure may end up being an all day process. No one has time for that, especially if you are a busy mom or an office manager.

For example, if you decide to set up an alert that will notify you of unseemly activity by one of your monitored employees or children, you would be hard-pressed to figure out how to do it without the help of the manual or customer service. Opening up the Alerts section of the control panel offers you a blank screen and no way to create new alerts.

Another problem is with the customer service itself. SurveilStar only gives users an email option as a way to contact customer support. This seems like a huge oversight for an email monitoring system that is greatly lacking in usability. No one wants to wait for their question to be answered by email. That's why email monitoring solutions such as WebWatcher have online chat service or call centers for their customer service. On the bright side, the SurveilStar website does offer online tutorials, so if you do purchase this software you're not totally lost.

SurveilStar is known to be incompatible with Windows 7. During the installation process, a Windows 7 computer will flash incompatibility warnings. If you go ahead with the installation, the computer goes a little crazy and freezes up multiple times. This is a huge problem for anyone who has upgraded from Vista.

Another compatibility problem is that SurveilStar doesn't seem to work with AOL. All of these limitations seem to mean that this email monitoring system isn't flexible enough for office situations where employees may use a wide range of operating systems and email providers.

The final, and maybe most detrimental, problem is that this email spy software isn't very stealth. If you need it to monitor your home computer, for example, a family member can easily delete it from the hard drive within a matter of minutes.

SurveilStar Summary:

Though, SurveilStar has features that are comparable to email monitoring solutions that ranks higher on our list, it just doesn't make the cut. It is too hard to use and has too many incompatibility problems that other email spy software just doesn't have.


SurveilStar 2010

SurveilStar has many monitoring features.

It is hard to use and isn't compatible with Windows 7 or AOL.

The Verdict:

It lacks enough usability and compatibility to make it not useful for most people.