How do you block web pages with OpenDNS so that no one can access them from your network? Step by step guide

With the large flow of content that currently exists on the web, it is likely that many users will want to restrict access to certain websites (for privacy, convenience, parental control, etc.). To this end, different methods have been implemented to apply a series of controls so that certain websites are blocked from loading, automatically.

These methods refer to the modification of your operating system’s host file, as well as the use of a firewall that facilitates the blocking of certain IP addresses. However, the simplest solution is considered to be to isolate the domain at the DNS level.

That’s why it’s worth knowing what OpenDNS is about and the benefits it brings, as well as the steps to be taken to block a web page through this free alternative. We will also explain other techniques to prevent access to specific websites.

What is OpenDNS and what are the benefits of using it to block websites?

First of all, it is important to know how OpenDNS is defined and what its main advantages are with respect to restricting websites. Well, OpenDNS is a free, open source DNS server that provides domain name resolution (DNS) service to both individuals and businesses.

Generally, its servers are located in strategic places and thus, it manages to maintain a large domain name cache. This makes it easy to make DNS queries that are much faster and thanks to that, it has the ability to accelerate the speed of response. Thus, in turn, the results of these queries are saved by the local systems to, at another time, achieve a better speed in most of the requests made by the user, because these will be stored in a circumscribed cache.

Thanks to this operation, the main benefit that OpenDNS reveals is that it is extremely fast to provide answers to users, thus being more efficient than the same Internet access provider. Additionally, it has other advantages of interest that we indicate to you, next:

  • It has excellent protective functions. For example, anti-phishing, because it is connected directly to PhishTank.com.
  • It is a totally free and open source solution. Therefore, any user will be able to enjoy its benefits.
  • It is also characterized by being a very reliable mechanism and in addition, its servers exhibit 100% availability.
  • No software installation is required to use OpenDNS. Since, only the address of the DNS to be configured will be necessary.
  • Thanks to its optimal capabilities, it has self-correction of small errors when typing.
  • In case the domain does not exist, the same OpenDNS system provides automatic proposal by its search engine.

Steps to block websites from OpenDNS to set parental control

Although it is true, a parental control system is catalogued as one of the best tools that parents and/or representatives can use to control and limit all the content that their children see through the Internet. Either through a computer or from their mobile devices and tablets.

Thus, many users choose to make use of OpenDNS to establish such control during the web browsing of the youngest in the house, in order to restrict those web pages that they consider inappropriate for them. Such as adult content, some social networks, violent and illegal pages, etc.

So, to make it easier for all parents who want to use OpenDNS in these terms, each of the steps to achieve any number of website blocking needs to be clarified:

Start by registering

The first thing you have to do, is to register at the official OpenDNS website, specifically in the section identified as “OpenDNS Home”. Being this, the part referring to domestic environments and of course, is totally free.

Once you have accessed the page provided, locate the right section of the panel, where a button indicating “Get a Free Account” appears. Thus, before clicking on this button, you must fill in all the fields in a mandatory way (in the case of the password, it is important that you enter letters, numbers and signs so that the system can accept it), and then proceed to create your free account.

Now go to “Settings”

After registering, you will be able to enter the configuration panel of your account and, directly from the menu located at the top, you must click on “Settings”(1). You will then see a new page from which you can choose the IP address on which you want to create custom filters.

It should be noted that this happens when you use your OpenDNS simultaneously on several computers and therefore several IP addresses will be displayed. Then, from the corresponding menu, proceed to select your IP from the list (2) and so, now you will see the section called “Web Content Filtering” (3).

It’s time to apply several available configurations

At this point, you will find several settings that you can apply, according to your preferences. In principle, place yourself at the top to observe the type of filtering you prefer to use (1). In general, we recommend blocking websites depending on their categories (e.g. restricting the loading of pages not recommended for children, in the case of parental controls).

Now, at the bottom of the panel, you will see a section called “Manage individual domains” (2) which is one of the most important sections for controlling your child’s browsing experience. From there you can add specific domains that you want to keep blocked at the DNS level. Either with the “Always Block” option to restrict the domain always or, with “Always Allow” which takes care of always allowing the domain and is ideal for including exceptions to the filters at the top.

In this case, we recommend that you choose “Always Block” to add the domain you wish to block in the blank space on the right (it is obligatory to place it without quotes). Now, click on the “Add domain” button.

Block only one domain or all related ones?

After the above, the OpenDNS system will proceed to ask you if you only want to restrict the domain you added, or if you prefer to opt to block all domains that are related by category. Usually, in cases of parental control, it is advisable to prevent access to all domains linked to the one you specified. You can do this by clicking on the second option available.

Once this is done, you simply have to save the changes from the “Confirm” option, in order to conclude the procedure. It is worth noting that these changes usually take about 3 minutes to become effective.

Do all DNS services allow you to restrict access to certain portals? Which ones are they?

Since DNS services are responsible for making your browsing private, they of course allow you to restrict access to certain portals by users themselves in order to optimize their experience. However, you may wonder what those DNS services are that promise this feature.

Below, we mention the main ones in a short list (specifying their main and secondary IPs):

  • OpenDNS: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220
  • Google Public DNS: 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4
  • Cloudflare: 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1
  • DNS: 77.88.8.8 and 77.88.8.1
  • Norton ConnectSafe: 199.85.126.10 and 199.85.127.10
  • Comodo Secure DNS: 8.26.56.26 and 8.20.247.20
  • Quad9: 9.9.9.9 and 149,112,112,112
  • Public DNS Server List: It is a database where you can find public DNS servers from all over the world.

It should be noted that each and every one of them is free and open source.

What other methods are there to block websites?

On the other hand, as we mentioned from the beginning, there are also other techniques to resort to when blocking and/or restricting certain websites to surf the web. These methods are based on using a firewall or changing the host file of your operating system.

So, if you find it interesting to use other methods for this instead of OpenDNS, it is useful to know how you can proceed with each one. Here are the steps you need to take to block as many pages online as you want by using a firewall or modifying the host file:

With Firewall

This is a program also known as a “firewall” that can be used to manage incoming and outgoing connections to a particular computer or network. Thus, usually, these firewalls are used to prevent or allow a specific website to connect to the Internet or to restrict access to certain web pages by users.

In this sense, the procedure to follow is based on entering the “Settings” option of your firewall and there, include a rule that obstructs the visit to a particular online site.

Below, we detail each step to be executed:

  • The first thing you have to do is open the program’s configuration utility.
  • The steps below will depend on the firewall you are using in particular, but all procedures are similar anyway. In the case of the native Windows firewall, you will need to enter the operating system’s Control Panel to start, and then click on “Windows Firewall”.
  • Then click on “Settings” or “Options”, which will display a list of sites and programs that are blocked for access. As well as a list of those who are allowed to access your Internet connection.
  • At this point, you need to select the “Add” option and enter the URL of the web page you want to block access to from your computer.
  • Finally, click “OK” and the website in question will be displayed in the on-screen list and that’s it.

Modify the hosts file

It is also possible to block websites by changing the Windows hosts file; this is another major technique used to strengthen parental control for many representatives and also to optimize the experience of many users who prefer to restrict access to certain websites that they do not require.

Therefore, if you want to try this method, here we present the process of it in detail:

  • In order to access the Windows host file, it will be necessary to navigate in the system’s browser through the address: C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc.
  • Then, you have to click on the corresponding host file and then select “Notepad” as the application to be able to open that file.
  • When the document in question is opened, you will have to move to the end of it and there write the following: 127.0.0.1.
  • Then press the “Tab” key on the computer and type in “localhost”.
  • Once this is done, you can start entering each of the websites you want to restrict into your computer. Bearing in mind that you will always need to enter the code “127.0.0.1”, press Tab and type the address of the website you want to block; at each step and on a different line of the document (i.e. pressing Enter).
  • Once you have specified all the web pages, you will have to go to “File” in the Notepad and then click on “Save” to close the document. That’s it.

This way, it will be impossible to enter any of the specified websites, since the browser will indicate that the connection cannot be established without any reason.

This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Brazil))

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