The Best DNS Filters for Blocking Porn at Home

We rank the best porn blocking DNS Filters by the factors that are important to people who are serious about purging porn from their technology.

The problem with most DNS Filters is that they tend to focus on protecting users from malicious websites and Ad tracking -- blocking Porn is usually not their central focus. As a result, most DNS Filters aren't capable of effectively doing the job of blocking adult content.

However, we highly recommend configuring a DNS Filter on your home network and individual devices. This is an important level of protection that is a critical part of my porn blocking guide. When combined with several other blocking methods, you'll soon forget that porn exists on the internet.

If you're an individual trying to quit porn or a parent protecting yourself and your children from harmful content, you're looking for a DNS Filter with the following attributes:

  • It's effective at blocking and identifying adult content. Ideally it should use machine learning to intelligently identify content in real time (instead of just blocking the most obvious adult websites).
  • It's difficult to disable and circumvent.
  • It can be configured on mobile/roaming devices so that it works on any internet connection.
  • It's reliable and works consistently.
  • It forces strict safesearch and blocks any search engines that don't support filtered browsing. This is critical -- search engines are really good at identifying adult content now.
  • Since blocking adult content is something you'll always want to do, the cost of the DNS filter has to be affordable for long term use

With that being said, these are the top porn blocking DNS filters on the market today and our review of each one.

OpenDNS FamilyShield

Pros

  • Free
  • Setup is pretty simple - you simply point your primary and secondary DNS Servers on your router or device to the FamilyShield IP addresses and you're good to go.

Cons

  • It blocks well known adult content websites, but it's trivial to find unblocked websites.
  • Does not use machine learning to identify adult content in real time. In other words, if a porn website was created in the last few weeks, OpenDNS will not block it.
  • It does not strictly force search engines to use safe search mode or block search engines that do not support a safe search mode.
  • If FamilyShield stops working, which seems to happen randomly, you can browse the internet completely unfiltered without even knowing that you aren't protected. Ideally a DNS Filter should block browsing if it's misconfigured.
  • No blocking customization.

Conclusion

Although OpenDNS FamilyShield is easy to setup and is free, it's not an effective content filter and we don't recommend using it as a long term solution. If you're setting up a new computer or home network and want to quickly block adult content, it's quick and easy to point to FamilyShield to at least have some protection. However, we would recommend quickly replacing it with a better solution once you have the time.

OpenDNS Home

OpenDNS Home is similar to FamilyShield, but you can customize the blocking settings.

Pros

  • Free
  • Customizable blocking, which might be useful if you want to block some torrenting websites or other unsuitable content types.
  • You can add individual web addresses to the blocklist.

Cons

  • It's harder to configure than FamilyShield. Before pointing the primary and secondary DNS servers to OpenDNS Home, you must add your home network's IP address to the OpenDNS dashboard. This is a step you don't have to do with FamilyShield, but it's absolutely critical.
  • Now that you have to enter an IP address into OpenDNS, you open yourself up to significant reliability issues. Sometimes your IP address changes -- when your home network IP address changes (like when you reset your router), OpenDNS will completely stop working. To solve for this, OpenDNS provides an IP updater tool that you need to download and install on a computer that you use regularly at your home. The obvious issue with this is that now it's really easy to break OpenDNS. Your computer's IP address might not match your home network (for various reasons, but I won't go into this). This means that the updater client will send the wrong IP to OpenDNS, completely breaking the filter. Also, you can easily disable the IP updater on your computer if you want to break filtering on your entire home network.
    • An ideal customizable web content filter will allow you to use a hostname instead of an IP address to connect your home network to the filtering service. This way you can send IP updates via your router instead of a specific computer, insuring that content filtering always stays enabled.
  • Although you can add individual web addresses to the OpenDNS blocklist, this feature is next to useless.
    • First, we found that adding a website address didn't actually block the website in many cases.
    • Second, the lack of a bulk upload feature makes this useless. If you want to match your hosts file blocklist you have to add each entry one-by-one.

Conclusion

Although OpenDNS Home is the more advanced version of FamilyShield, it's actually an inferior solution since it's easier to disable and more complicated to set up. The additional features aren't good enough to make up for the reduction in reliability.

NextDNS

NextDNS is one of the newer content filters that mainly caters to blocking Ad tracking and increasing privacy. However, they also block adult content and time-wasting websites. NextDNS is particularly interesting because they crowdsource their blocklists. All blocklists are sourced from github repositories that contain curated blocklists. These blocklists are updated regularly, so it's a pretty good crowdsourced blocking solution.

Pros

  • Costs only a few dollars per month.
  • Supports IPv6 and hostnames
  • Crowdsourced blocklists
  • Roaming client for connecting a computer or smartphone to NextDNS on any internet connection (not just for at home use)

Cons

  • Does not use machine learning for real-time blocking - it relies on crowdsourced lists entirely.
  • No advanced circumvention techniques: the roaming client is easy to disable and doesn't account for the most common methods for getting around DNS Filtering.

Conclusion

Since NextDNS is relatively new, we expect it improve signficantly. We'd recommend it over OpenDNS, but it's one of the weaker Adult content filters.

CleanBrowsing

Cleanbrowsing is one of the market leading home DNS filters specifically catering to blocking adult content.

Pros

  • Costs only a few dollars per month (and also has a free tier).
  • Supports IPv6 and hostnames.
  • Provides a roaming client for configuring filtering on individual devices.

Cons

  • Does not block access to content that has not been categorized.
  • Difficult to bulk-add website bulk lists.
  • Lacks anti-circumvention techniques to stop users from getting around filtering.

Conclusion

Although it's not our top recommended filtering service, CleanBrowsing is a solid filtering choice for home networks. Our main issue with it is the lack of anti-circumvention techniques.

DNSFilter

The enterprise version of our ideal porn blocking DNS is DNSFilter. In our opinion, it's the market-leading filtering service primarily used by corporations.

Pros

  • The most effective internet filter service we've ever used.
    • Uses machine learning to identify adult content in real-time.
    • Forces search engines to use the strictest browsing mode.
    • Identifies new content in real-time using machine learning.
  • Anti-circumvention techniques
    • Blocks services that can be used to disable the filter
    • Can block VPNs are be used with VPNs
  • Blocks internet access if it's misconfigured.
  • API access enables developers to extend the functionality of DNSFilter.
  • Supports hostnames instead of just IP addresses
  • Supports invisible installation of roaming clients so that they are difficult to disable or uninstall.

Cons

  • DNSFilter provides a 14-day free trial, then it's $20/month for use on the home network and to install roaming clients on your computer. If you want Android and iOS roaming clients, your cost goes up to $100/month.
  • Setting up DNSFilter the most effective way is more difficult than any of the other DNS filtering solutions.
  • Does not support IPv6.

DNSFilter+Community

DNSFilter is the best porn blocking DNS filter that I've ever used. It was so effective for my own porn recovery journey that I decided to make it accessible and affordable to the average home user.

Because DNSFilter provides an API for developers, techlockdown is able to provide home users with access to DNSFilter for a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, we're able to simplify the setup process so that it's easier for the average user to take advantage of the most advanced features.

Furthermore, we're able to make it even more effective by adding tens of thousands of crowdsourced websites to the blocklist. These crowdsourced websites do not neccessarily contain adult content, but enable us to block websites like reddit image scrollers, which are harmful to recovering porn addicts.

Get started with the most effective porn blocking DNS filter, become a techlockdown member today.

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