There are various ways to try and stop inappropriate online content like pornographic material being accessible to children, one is to install parental control software. The software can be effective at blocking this type of material up to a point but can be messed with or bypassed. Another option which doesn’t need any software installed on your computer is filtering content through the Domain Name System (DNS).
DNS is a set of online servers that translate standard website names into their corresponding IP address which the browser needs to show the website (for raymond.cc it’s 126.96.36.199). It’s like a huge Windows HOSTS file with billions of entries. ISPs generally use their own DNS servers which will be the default for all devices using your internet connection. However, they are not always that fast, private or secure.
There are many third party DNS services that can filter out specific website addresses, like ad hosting, malicious content, illegal content and of course, adult or pornographic content. Here we show you eight free DNS services that offer adult or pornographic content blocking as standard. All you have to do is add the DNS addresses to your Windows network properties. Instructions are supplied on the specific websites if you don’t know how to do it. IPv6 addresses are also included for more advanced users.1. OpenDNS Family Shield
OpenDNS was one of the first to offer free DNS servers with adult content filtering back in 2010. It is possible to create a free account and customize the DNS service with extra filters (such as blocking social networks, P2P or gambling), domain blocking and even creating a custom block page. However, it’s not a requirement and you can just set and forget using the addresses provided.
OpenDNS has two free DNS services, Family Shield and Home. Family Shield is pre configured to filter out adult content by default and will be enough if that’s all you want. To block even more, such as illegal activity, social networking or custom domains, create an account and set up custom filtering. This works with both Home and Family Shield. The process looks complicated but there are many guides on the internet to help.
OpenDNS Family Shield
Preferred DNS Server: 188.8.131.52
Alternate DNS Server: 184.108.40.206
OpenDNS Home (create a free account to set up adult content blocking)
Preferred DNS Server: 220.127.116.11
Alternate DNS Server: 18.104.22.168
2. CleanBrowsing DNS
CleanBrowsing has quickly established itself as one of the most popular and effective adult content filtering DNS services around. In some effectiveness tests for blocking pornographic content, we’ve seen it score higher than any other DNS service. The basic Security Filter blocks malicious content while the Adult Filter also blocks pornographic and explicit websites.
The full Family Filter adds more protection with blocking of proxy and VPN domains and also mixed content sites like Reddit. Google, Youtube and Bing browser searches are set to safe mode. A blocked page simply shows up as a standard page not found error. Extra information is listed on the website for more secure privacy options like DNSCrypt, DNS over HTTPS and DNS over TLS.
CleanBrowsing DNS Adult Filter
Primary DNS server: 22.214.171.124
Secondary DNS Server: 126.96.36.199
Primary IPv6 DNS server: 2a0d:2a00:1::1
Secondary IPv6 DNS Server:2a0d:2a00:2::1
CleanBrowsing DNS Family Filter
Primary DNS server: 188.8.131.52
Secondary DNS Server: 184.108.40.206
Primary IPv6 DNS server: 2a0d:2a00:1::
Secondary IPv6 DNS Server: 2a0d:2a00:2::
3. Neustar Public DNS
Any users that are for some reason still using the now discontinued Norton Connectsafe DNS addresses will these days have their DNS requests routed through Neustar. Neustar has five levels of DNS, the first two are unfiltered while the third is called Threat Protection and blocks malware, phishing sites and etc.
The fourth DNS is Family Secure which uses Threat Protection plus it also blocks pornography, some gambling sites, violence and hate. The most filtered DNS is listed as Business Secure but can be used as a family version as well. It additionally blocks gaming, adult (presumably different to just pornography), drugs, alcohol and anonymous Proxies.
Neustar Family Secure
Primary DNS server: 220.127.116.11
Secondary DNS Server: 18.104.22.168
Primary IPv6 DNS server: 2610:a1:1018::3
Secondary IPv6 DNS Server: 2610:a1:1019::3
Neustar Business Secure
Primary DNS server: 22.214.171.124
Secondary DNS Server: 126.96.36.199
Primary IPv6 DNS server: 2610:a1:1018::4
Secondary IPv6 DNS Server: 2610:a1:1019::4
4. Adguard Family Protection DNS
Adguard is a Russian company well know for it’s popular and highly rated ad blocking browser extensions, mobile apps and Windows/Mac desktop software. In addition to those products, Adguard also runs a free DNS service which offers ad blocking, security and family protection. DNS servers are available in the US, Europe, Japan, Australia and Singapore
The Family Protection DNS offers all the ad blocking and privacy features of the default Adguard DNS plus adult website blocking and setting the search mode in the web browser to safe search. Instructions are on the website to install the DNS on Windows, macOS, mobile, Linux and for DNSCrypt, DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS.
Primary DNS server: 188.8.131.52
Secondary DNS Server: 184.108.40.206
Primary IPv6 DNS server: 2a00:5a60::bad1:0ff
Secondary IPv6 DNS Server: 2a00:5a60::bad2:0ff
On the next page, there are another 4 family friendly DNS services and a utility you can use to try out some of these services with a couple of mouse clicks.
SafeSurfer is a DNS service from New Zealand which appears to be partly run with voluntary donations. In addition to the standard IP addresses you can use below, there are also desktop applications for Windows, Mac and Linux as well as mobile applications for Android and iOS.
The SafeSurfer website and DNS servers are not in New Zealand though and are entirely hosted in the United States. The DNS itself uses a mixture of Google Cloud and Open DNS servers. While it may not be the fastest DNS resolver outside of the US, using those servers should make it pretty reliable.
Primary DNS server: 220.127.116.11
Secondary DNS Server: 18.104.22.168
6. DNS For Family
This service is from Germany, the website is based there as are the Cloudflare servers it uses. The DNS speed will obviously be reduced the further you live away from Europe. According to the website, the current list of blocked domains stands at over 2 million and that list is updated daily.
In addition to adult or pornographic websites, DNS For Family also blocks adverts by default as it believes they could help link to adult content. DNSCrypt stamps are available on the website for the more advanced or security conscious user as well as a custom Raspbian image for Raspberry Pi users.
Primary DNS server: 22.214.171.124
Secondary DNS Server: 126.96.36.199
Primary IPv6 DNS server: 2a01:4f8:1c0c:40db::1
Secondary IPv6 DNS Server: 2a01:4f8:1c17:4df8::1
7 and 8. DNS Nawala and Yandex Family DNS
There are a few more DNS services we found that are based in a single country that we’ll mention briefly. DNS Nawala is based in Indonesia and Yandex Family DNS is from Russia. They work fine but along with the server hosting restriction, they both display a block page in the country’s native language.
While there is no inherent problem with this, many users might prefer to have the block page in English so youngsters can see clearly the websites they are trying to access are being blocked. Of course, if you come from one of those countries or speak the language, they could make a good choice.
Primary DNS server: 188.8.131.52
Secondary DNS Server: 184.108.40.206
Yandex Family DNS
Primary DNS server: 220.127.116.11
Secondary DNS Server: 18.104.22.168
Try Out all of the Above DNS Services Using a Simple Program
We have given you several choices for a family safe DNS service but you may want to test a few out or just add a DNS to your system as easily as possible. While it’s not particularly difficult changing the default DNS in Windows to test these services, it is a bit annoying typing in addresses and closing/opening the network properties windows.
A simple program we have mentioned before is called DNS Jumper. With it, you can try out different DNS services with just a few mouse clicks. There is a family friendly list of presets already built in but we have created a custom configuration file so you can easily try out all of the options we’ve listed.
The program is free and portable, just download the zip file and extract to a location of your choice. Run DNSJumper.exe and select from the “Choose a DNS Server” drop down menu. Then click Apply DNS. Once you have settled on a choice of DNS, close the program as DNS Jumper doesn’t need to stay running.
Note: An important thing you should know is the DNS settings in Windows will override the settings in your router. For example, if the router is set up to use CleanBrowsing but the computer is using Cloudflare, the computer will use the unfiltered Cloudflare. To prevent the DNS method being bypassed, you will need to create a standard user account for your children so that they cannot change the DNS settings.
Note 2: Something that is slowly being adopted by ISP’s is the use of the transparent DNS proxy. This forces all DNS requests through the ISP’s own DNS servers and ignores any custom settings in the router or on individual devices. If no custom DNS services have any effect when trying them, this may be the cause. Unfortunately, there is very little you can do other than contacting your ISP to find out.
However, there is a workaround if you still want a custom DNS on your PC, and that is using DNS encryption. This method encrypts DNS requests meaning they are not processed by your ISP and a program called Simple DNSCrypt can help you do that. You can only use the DNS services in the predefined lists but the good news is Adguard, CleanBrowsing, OpenDNS, DNS For Family and Nawala are currently included.