Block Inappropriate Websites With OpenDNS’s FamilyShield Service

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block inappropriate websites freeI 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

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Easy Configuration

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.

Flexible Configuration

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.

Wide Coverage

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.

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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.

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For Routers

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.

For Computers

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.

Image Credit: Web Filter Image Via Shutterstock, Router Config Image Via Shutterstock

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Comments (24)
  • beckie

    Where do I find OpenDNS Family Shield for free? I went to their site to find it but could only access “Home VIP” for $19.95 annually. Is the free version still available?

    • Joel Lee

      Go to the OpenDNS site and click on “OpenDNS Home” instead of “OpenDNS Home VIP.” That’s the free version. :)

    • Joel Lee

      Oops, you can choose between “OpenDNS Home” or “OpenDNS FamilyShield”–they’re both free options, but FamilyShield is the one you want. The default “Home VIP” is the premium.

  • Tammy

    i need to find something free to block all xxx websites if u can help me please let me know. thanks. well have a good day.

  • Mitesh Budhabhatti

    1 question Joel. OpenDNS claims to give speedier internet experience over other DNS. Do you think this is possible in all the parts of the world?

    • Joel Lee

      I’ve been using OpenDNS for a few years. I appreciate the filtering features, but I’ve never felt a boost in my Internet speed. If your Internet is slow to begin with, then maybe you’ll see a speed boost, but my personal experience says that the gain is negligible.

  • HassanJohnson

    Okay, so I’ve had quite a bit of problem with the installation.
    I tried to set it up on my SMC router but the steps provided do not pertain to my interface. For example, I cannot do step 4 since the WAN heading in panel is missing. SEE HERE:

    Then I tried to set it up on my laptop… but I don’t have the LAN connection, rather it is wireless. Soo please please help, I really need to use this.

    • Joel Lee

      I don’t have an SMC router nor have I ever had to deal with one, so I’m not sure I can help with that.

      However, for the wireless vs. LAN issue, all that matters is which network adapter you choose for the settings. I have both a LAN connection and a wireless connection on my desktop and I just had to set the DNS IPs for both adapters.

      For example, if you’re using Windows 7, these are the instructions:

      Look in your system tray for your Internet connection and right click on it. Click “Open Network and Sharing Center” then click “Change Adapter Settings” at the top left. From there, right click on the adapter you want to set OpenDNS FamilyShield on, click “Properties,” then proceed in the instructions from Step 5.

    • HassanJohnson

      thank you very much, it works!

  • HassanJohnson

    Hi, I have been using windows live safety to filter out bad websites. It works great, but the problem is that it can be disabled temporarily by going to windows task manager and ending the process from there. In a few seconds, the service goes back to functioning again.

    However, during that window of time bad sites are accessible. And once the page is accessed, even if the Windows Live service is functioning again, the page is still not blocked. Hence rendering the service useless..

    I was wondering if I would encounter a problem with this.

    • Joel Lee

      It depends if you set up OpenDNS FamilyShield on your computer or your router.

      If you set it up on your computer, then it can be disabled by climbing through some hoops. Accessing the network adapter and removing the manual DNS IP addresses will stop your traffic from being filtered. This is slightly more difficult than killing a process in Task Manager, but once you learn how to do it, it’s easy.

      If you set it up on your router, however, only people who have access to the router administration will be able to disable it.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. :)

    • HassanJohnson

      Thank you! And thanks for the quick reply as well!

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.