Block Inappropriate Websites With OpenDNS’s FamilyShield Service

Joel Lee 22-05-2012

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 OpenDNS Works As A Great Free Web Content Filtering Solution Read More . 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

block inappropriate websites free

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.

block inappropriate content

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.

block inappropriate websites free

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


Related topics: Firewall, Internet Filters, Parental Control.

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  1. Joanna Milanesi
    May 21, 2020 at 10:55 am

    I was curious about this article because even after several years, the topic is still relevant. I tried familyshield tool with my family as well, can say it is rather an efficient solution to inappropriate-use-of-the-internet issue. However, what I am interested in now is a similar tool for a phone. It'd be better to be relevant and simple. Because my kids spend a lot of their time online looking into their phone screens. I came across the article about blocking websites and different apps that can help with it. One of them is this one: so now I'm thinking on installing their app as well. Or, familyshield has different options for different devices and OSs too?

  2. beckie
    November 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    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
      November 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Go to the OpenDNS site and click on "OpenDNS Home" instead of "OpenDNS Home VIP." That's the free version. :)

      • Joel Lee
        November 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        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.

  3. Tammy
    October 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    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.

  4. Mitesh Budhabhatti
    September 19, 2012 at 7:24 am

    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
      September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      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.

  5. HassanJohnson
    August 22, 2012 at 12:48 am

    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
      August 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      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
        August 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm

        thank you very much, it works!

  6. HassanJohnson
    August 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    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
      August 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      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
        August 9, 2012 at 5:06 am

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

  7. Alicedi
    July 29, 2012 at 5:13 am

    It works but is a little complicated and requires some technical knowledge. For someone like me, some details could be intimidating. I've been using Qustodio from Its a free parental control software blocks sites automatically in real time, tracks data, and also monitors the activities kids engage in on social media sites.

  8. Ashwin Divakaran
    June 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

    OpenDNS is awesome coz of its speed and security but have little effect on its coverage.Google Public DNS is my preferred one.

    • Joel Lee
      June 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Google Public DNS is great when you just need a better DNS. I use OpenDNS because of its filtering settings. :)

  9. Sanju Meena
    June 7, 2012 at 3:01 am

    Really! Too Helpful For Me Thanks! Joel :)

    • Joel Lee
      June 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Glad it was useful!

  10. Shehan Nirmal
    June 1, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Thanks... This helps so much..!!!

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Glad you found it useful. :)

  11. motsmanish
    May 23, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Whats the difference between 'OpenDNS FamilyShield' and 'OpenDNS Home' ??

    • Joel Lee
      May 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      OpenDNS Home is more flexible but it requires a little bit more knowledge. You can select which filters you'd like to use based on the different tags that OpenDNS provides.

      For example, you can filter out websites that talk about Alcohol, or Gambling, or Video Games, or Gore. You can filter all Forums, or websites related to Magazines, or sites that sell Lingerie. You can filter Warez, Torrents, Emulators, Anonymizers, Proxies, Racism, Hate Sites, etc.

      On the other hand, OpenDNS FamilyShield has preset filter options. They control the filter list, which includes most things related to Sex and Pornography, as well as sites with images too graphic for children, like Gore and Violence. I'm not exactly sure which filters the FamilyShield is exactly set up with.

      So in short, the difference is that you can customize OpenDNS Home to filter exactly what you want, but you'll have to do a little more work in getting it right. With OpenDNS FamilyShield, they handle the filtering list, all you have to do is install it.

      • motsmanish
        May 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

        Thanks for the quick reply @Joel.

  12. Sushil Kathpalia
    May 23, 2012 at 3:03 am

    I have a question? why they running two types of DNS servers,,,,
    I used this last year its properly block Inappropriate sites but after some time forget it & when open their website to check DNS servers they showed the below DNS address which does not block any websites??

    • Joel Lee
      May 23, 2012 at 3:29 am

      I believe the two different set of IPs are for different services. As far as I know, one of them belongs to the OpenDNS Home service, which allows you to customize your filtering options based on your specific needs. The other set belongs to the predefined FamilyShield filtering settings.

      Specifically, the 222.222/220.220 set belongs to the Home service, while the 222.123/220.123 belongs to the FamilyShield service.