You might be checking your Usage and History, and wondering why certain websites are listed that you either don't recognize, or don't think your family member has visited. Perhaps you see a bunch of IP addresses you don't recognize. This article will talk a little bit about why this might be happening, and what you can do to prevent them from appearing in your list of sites visited.
Circle categorizes traffic and then filters it according to your profile settings. When viewing your Usage for a profile you may notice that "Uncategorized" traffic appears there. This traffic hasn't been categorized by Circle yet or cannot be categorized.
What is this uncategorized traffic?
When your devices connect to the Internet they might create connections using what's known as a domain name (example: facebook.com) or using an IP address (188.8.131.52) to make a direct connection.
Circle categorizes this type of traffic using an internal database and our connection with through the website categorization site BrightCloud. For many sites/apps we set up custom app packages to make sure really popular apps have the correct domains and IP addresses tracked. For other domains and IP address we rely upon Brightcloud to categorize the service.
If a domain or IP address isn't categorized by us or Brightcloud then it will appears as "Uncategorized" traffic in your Usage report. This uncategorized label may be removed in the future once we categorize that, or may remain on the site if it is never categorized.
How do I filter uncategorized traffic?
Currently, the Circle app doesn't let you filter just for Uncategorized traffic. It's likely that if you were to set up uncategorized traffic as Not Allowed that the devices on your profile wouldn't be able to load some content via the browser or online apps. These apps and your browser are usually dependent on uncategorized traffic to load small amounts of content, updates, etc. while also loading other content that Circle is able to categorize. Don't worry though, Circle is able to detect other categorized traffic and correctly apply Filters for sites/apps, Time Limits, etc.
Common confusing History entries
Content Distribution Networks
Many online services enlist the help of third-party tools and websites that aren't directly hosted on their own website/domain. For example, p-cdn.com is used by Pandora as their content distribution network for the delivery of their vast array of music.
Usually, content providers who host their own delivery networks will name them something close to their product's name. However, some of the most popular web services, like Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, will use Content Distribution Networks like akamaihd.net for distribution. CDNs often distribute content for a number of services. This makes content distribution fast and reliable, but it might make it a little harder for you to figure out what your family members are doing on the Internet.
The best way to determine if a website is a CDN is to simply do a web search for the name, and see what information about the site comes up. Your Circle device does its best to ignore many of these CDN sites, but occasionally will report them as actual websites in your History; you can specifically add them to your Custom Filter list as "Unmanaged", and they'll no longer be counting against Time Limits or filter out content.
Are you noticing websites appearing under a family member's History when you're certain that family member wasn't using their device?
You're probably seeing traffic from a background service on that device. For example, iOS devices will often send traffic to "apple.com" and "apple-dns.net" without the user ever visiting these websites. These background services keep the phone or app up to date.
If you're noticing background services dig into a family member's Time Limit you can set a Custom Filters for these sites as "Unmanaged". You can also turn off these types of background activities by disabling it for the app. See Apple's website on "Background App Refreshing". Google describes where the setting is located for Background Data here.
Other unrecognized sites
If there's a website that doesn't fit within the two cases listed above, and you're still unsure what it is, try searching for it through the website categorization site BrightCloud. Head to www.brightcloud.com and enter in the website domain: it will tell you what category the website belongs to, and also provide you an opportunity to report the site if it isn't appropriately categorized. Please note that this service is independent of Circle and there is no guarantee your recommendation will go into effect.
Do you see web addresses like "184.108.40.206" appearing under a family member's History section? IP addresses (Internet Protocol) are the addresses that computers use to resolve web traffic. Humans can type in google.com to make a search, but your web browser will actually be "translating" that domain name to a numerical IP to load the same website.
If you're seeing a number of websites that are just IP addresses, a number of things might be going on. Your family member might be using a gaming service that utilizes a server at that address, or an app might be loading it for content. If you're seeing a number of IP addresses or just a couple that all appear under the "Uncategorized" category in the Circle app, your family member might be using a Virtual Private Network to try and get around your Circle device. If you're concerned about an IP address, try checking it at www.brightcloud.com or doing a search for it on your favorite search engine.
A note about Virtual Private Networks: Circle tries to block many major Virtual Private Network services, but it's nearly impossible to catch every Virtual Private Network service. If you're concerned that a family member might be using a Virtual Private Network to circumvent your Circle device, feel free to contact our support team using the contact information at the bottom of this page.
Why can't I open a link in History?
Some URLs that appear in History won't open if you tap "Visit Website". This is usually because the URL is being loaded by another app or website, and does not have a version of the website that will load in your device's browser. Circle is seeing this traffic and shows it in history, and categorizes it appropriately. A good way to learn more about what your family members are doing online is to compare the History and Usage views for the period.