I think it’s safe to say that for as long as the Internet has been around, there have always been inappropriate websites – and I’m not just talking about adult entertainment! Think of all the nasty websites out there that are just waiting to make your life miserable – phishing sites, malware and spyware, prank sites, screamer Flash videos, etc.
OpenDNS first launched back in 2005 as a free way to filter web content. Unlike browser add-on filters, OpenDNS works at the foundational level. You redirect your Internet data through the OpenDNS servers and they will block all of the bad stuff for you.
The original OpenDNS, which is free for personal use, allows you to customize a number of settings so that you can personalize your filtering needs. The FamilyShield service, then, is all about setting-it-and-forgetting-it. They have preconfigured settings to block non-family-friendly content easily.
OpenDNS FamilyShield Features
The OpenDNS FamilyShield settings are optimized by the OpenDNS team to maximize coverage of all the nasty things that you might come across on the Internet. They keep these settings up-to-date and the filters are ever-changing, so you don’t have to worry about maintaining anything.
You get to decide which devices in your house are controlled by OpenDNS FamilyShield. Anything that connects to the Internet can be blocked and shielded – gaming consoles, personal computers, tablets, netbooks, and more.
Often Internet filters are geared towards blocking X-rated sites, but FamilyShield does more than that. Scam sites, malware-installing sites, and shock sites are all blocked here. Since the filters are kept up-to-date, your chances of stumbling across an identity-stealing fraudulent website are quite slim.
Reliable Internet Speeds
The FamilyShield website claims to improve website loading times. As OpenDNS is fundamentally a Domain Name Server service, it makes sense that routing through their servers would lend a hand towards optimizing your Internet traffic. Don’t expect massive decreases in latency, but you can expect improved reliability.
Free Of Charge
Now who can argue with that?
How To Set Up OpenDNS FamilyShield
Choose Where To Install OpenDNS FamilyShield
You have a choice between setting it up on your Internet router or onto a specific device. If you have a router shared between multiple users and you want to shield everyone, install it there. If you only want to protect yourself (and the other users don’t want it), then you can set it up on your device alone.
Luckily, OpenDNS has a great knowledge base for beginner and advanced users alike.
OpenDNS has individualized installation instructions for 21 different router brands. They cover everything from the well-known brands (like Linksys and Netgear) down to router brands that I’ve never heard of (like ZyXEL). If you don’t have any of those, though, OpenDNS also has a set of generalized router directions.
OpenDNS FamilyShield works with Windows (98, 2000 / NT, ME, XP, Vista, 7), Mac (9, Tiger, Leopard), Linux (Ubuntu, SUSE), and some others. The instructions differ slightly depending on the operating system, but setup is easy and shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes.
I’ve been using OpenDNS FamilyShield for nearly a year now and it’s been great. It’s not a full-on replacement for antivirus software, but it does filter out a good number of junk sites. I’ll be using it for years to come.
For homes that want to protect their children, I would say that FamilyShield is a necessity. It rivals many of the features of paid filters, but it’s free and very easy to setup. Give it a try then let us know in the comments what you think of it.