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MakeUseOf has mentioned OpenDNS before, but until recently I had no idea what all you could accomplish with it. We mentioned how using it could speed up your internet connection 6 Apps To Browse Web Productively 6 Apps To Browse Web Productively Read More by using their DNS servers instead of your ISP’s. This allows OpenDNS to do many other things that you might not be aware of. In this article, I’ll walk you through getting the most out of OpenDNS.

OpenDNS

Lets look at OpenDNS’s feature list. It’s quite impressive. The offer a nice list of great DNS related tools to help you secure, customize, and protect your network. To start, we need to create an account. Do this by browsing to the OpenDNS website and clicking on the Create Account link at the top of the page. You’ll get access to all their features including:

  • Adult site blocking
  • Domain blocking
  • Domain whitelist
  • Phishing detection
  • Custom statistics

Upon logging in, OpenDNS will create a network for you based off your IP. This is the default and you’ll easily be able to click “Settings” and start your OpenDNS customization. You can start off by uploading your own logo. This just allows you to have your own image on the error pages generated by OpenDNS. You could put a picture of a big red X, or if you’re a real geek, a picture of yourself with a not-so-happy face.

Whitelist – The whitelist allows you the opportunity to always allow access to specific websites. These websites will not be affected by the remaining settings.

Adult Site Blocking – this setting is broken down into six categories. It allows you the ability to pick and choose which specific set of categories you’d like to include in your domain block list, with another option for proxy/anonymizer sites. Simply select each one you would like to block, and apply the settings. OpenDNS takes care of the rest, giving you an error message when you try to connect to something listed in these categories.

OpenDNS - Adult Settings

Phishing Site Blocking – This option utilizes PhishTank to block every computer using OpenDNS’s DNS servers from suspected phishing websites.

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Domain Blocking (Blacklist) – This option allows you to block specific websites. So say you don’t do your kids (or someone else) going to myspace, no problem – just add myspace.com to the domain block list and it won’t be accessible anymore.

One of the neatest things about each one of these options is that they allow you to create your own specific error messages or informational messages you wish to show up in the browser of the user trying to connect to these websites.

Shortcuts – This is one of the neatest features available to users of OpenDNS.

The shortcuts allow you to create single word shortcuts to specific URLs. If you browse many websites, and a lot of those websites are ones you would go to on a day-to-day basis, this option is perfect for you. Create simple, one-word shortcuts for those websites. Since I’m an avid Gmail user, I’ve listed the shortcut “mail” to go to https://mail.google.com. I just type mail in my address bar and I’m off to Gmail. It’s that simple.

OpenDNS - Shortcuts

Do you use OpenDNS as your DNS? Have any other info about this topic? Let us know.

  1. rtaggart
    March 4, 2008 at 11:31 am

    There is a new category called ADVERTISING. Please approve the domains in that category to make unwanted advertising blocked by their filter. You can review and approve domains here: opendns.com/community/domaintagging and then select advertising under the show undecided domains drop down box.

  2. David Ulevitch
    January 29, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Thanks for the great write-up Travis and explanations of our service to your readers. Let me know if I can answer any specific questions you or your readers have. Our service is successful thanks to the reviews and write-ups from people like you and the feedback and feature requests from your audience.

    Thanks!

  3. TallPaul
    January 28, 2008 at 4:49 am

    I've already commented about OpenDNS when Aibek mentioned it recently but it's worth warning again that some ISPs, for example VirginMedia in the UK, run a DNS proxy, so they intercept any DNS requests you make to external DNS servers and give you the results using their own DNS servers. This stops OpenDNS working.

    It’s not entirely clear why they're doing this - the worry is that they may be logging the data to build up browsing patterns …

    • Travis Quinnelly
      January 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm

      I had no idea that ISP's where doing this. Thanks for mentioning it again. Users will have to look out for this.

  4. Travis Quinnelly
    January 27, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    @Jason B. - True, but using OpenDNS would allow "all" browsers the ability to take advantage of this.

    • mark
      February 12, 2008 at 6:34 pm

      Who cares about IE? It's always Firefox ;)

  5. Jason B.
    January 27, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Firefox also allows for "keyword" bookmarks. You can even use this feature to to speed search straight from the address bar!

    http://lifehacker.com/software/bookmarks/hack-attack-firefox-and-the-art-of-keyword-bookmarking-196779.php

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