Q: Is there a way to block inappropriate videos from YouTube search results?
A: You can avoid or block certain types of videos from the site through a variety of measures. These include built-in filters and third-party software.
YouTube has a Safety Mode that filters what the site refers to as “potentially objectionable material” when you search or browse for videos. To turn it on, scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page to the menus for Language, Location and Safety. Next to Safety, click the Off button to have the option to click the On button and hit Save.
YouTube should now filter the videos it displays when you use the site. Comments on videos are also hidden from view or have certain words filtered out.
If you have a YouTube account and are logged in, you can fix the controls to keep Safety Mode on; click the box next to “Lock safety mode on this browser” in the Safety Mode settings. That keeps the setting active, even if you log out of your account.
While Safety Mode can help block quite a bit of content, it may not catch everything that might offend. Its safety rankings are generated by members of the YouTube community who flag videos that are considered objectionable, as well as YouTube’s own internal filters.
If YouTube’s Safety Mode is not sufficient to catch everything you do not wish to see, third-party software like Safe Eyes (internetsafety.com) or Net Nanny (netnanny.com) costs more (at least $40 or so) — but does more. It allows a wider range of filtering and content-blocking beyond YouTube.
Other tools include the SafeSearch filter for browsing (bit.ly/rTPR73) and add-on filters (bit.ly/NHSpRT) to browsers. Settings like Internet Explorer’s Content Advisor (bit.ly/QtK9YJ) can also help block certain types of materials. Check your preferred browser and search engine for what is available.
GETTING READY FOR DATA DISASTERS
Q: What disaster-proof backup options are out there besides a cloud server? I’d prefer to keep my personal files closer to home.
A: Disasters come in many forms, including flood, fire and hard-drive failure, but you have many options for keeping your files backed up locally. If you have a huge archive of photos, documents, music, videos and other important digital content, making a copy of your computer’s hard drive with cloning or imaging software (available in places that offer utility programs) is one place to start. Once you have a copy of the drive’s contents on an external hard drive or set of DVDs, storing it in a water- and fireproof chest or safe deposit box helps protect it from the elements.
Some hard drives are built to withstand extreme environments like water, fire and long drops. Companies with drives that can better survive disasters include ioSafe (iosafe.com) or SentrySafe (available at office supply sites or Amazon.com).
TIP OF THE WEEK
As the year winds down, sunset occurs earlier in the day. If you want to see when darkness will fall next, just type the word “sunset” and your current ZIP code into the search box on the Google or Yahoo home page and hit the Enter key to see the time of the next sunset displayed at the top of the results page. Typing “sunrise” instead brings up the time of the next day’s first light. If your browser is set to use your computer or mobile device’s location data, you do not even need to include your ZIP code in the search box.
J.D. Biersdorfer writes about technology for The New York Times. Send questions to QandA@nytimes.com.