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CleanBrowsing Setup Guide and Review

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Tech Lockdown Team
Updated March 29, 2024

CleanBrowsing is a DNS filtering service that built to filter out all kinds of explicit content online. If you're trying to decide whether to give it a try, then you've come to right place!

Perhaps you are someone who is trying to break free of online addiction. Maybe you're an accountability partner for a loved one, or a parent who is trying to protect their child. When shopping for a content filter, chances are you're looking for one that:

  • Can't be easily disabled or bypassed, whether that's on a smartphone or across a home network.
  • Is effective and doesn't just block most adult sites.
  • Provides security - blocks malicious or suspicious websites.
  • Offers filtering logs.

Let's first take a look at what exactly CleanBrowsing is.

What is CleanBrowsing?

CleanBrowsing is a content filtering service that is designed to protect individuals, families, and businesses. More specifically, it's something called a DNS filter, which is a special type of filter that can be installed on a router, computer, or even smartphone.

What is DNS?

We know websites by their web address. Computers communicate with each other with IP addresses- which are not easy for people to remember. Instead, you use a Domain name, "" for example. Your computer takes that domain name, communicates with a server called a DNS server, and converts "" into an IP address.

How does a DNS filter work?

A DNS filter is a special type of DNS server. It keeps a record of millions of websites, and sorts them into categories - such as adult content, malicious domains, or trackers. When your computer attempts to find an IP address that's on one of the blocked lists, the IP address that gives your computer doesn't point to anything. This means that your computer won't be able to connect to that website.

In our example, if you set "" to be blocked by your DNS filter, your computer won't get a useful address (something like, which isn't an actual address). As a result, you won't be able to visit YouTube on any device that uses the filter.

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Manage Android Devices at Home
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Is CleanBrowsing Difficult to Disable or Bypass?

As far as DNS Filters go, CleanBrowsing isn't that difficult to install on most platforms. For Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, CleanBrowsing has an App. Each of these Apps will require you to use a code from your dashboard, and once linked, the App will allow you to configure settings for that device. 

Dashboard: The place where you can manage settings, information, or instructions for a product. You can think of it as a settings page, but for an online product.

On Windows and Mac, CleanBrowsing let's set a password in order to lock settings you set for each device you install it.

You can also set up something called Application Uninstall Protection (aka AUP), which will allow you to prevent uninstalling the program.

For smartphones, it's a bit more complicated. This is not CleanBrowsing's fault - smartphones are much trickier to exert this kind of extensive control. They're not designed to restrict access or enforce settings in the same way you can with a windows or mac device. Instead, CleanBrowsing provides instructions for how you can enforce settings on Android and iOS devices. 

For Android devices, they recommend installing AppLocker. This is particularly effective, since you are able to restrict users from uninstalling Apps.

On iOS, it's even trickier. As opposed to Android, CleanBrowsing instead recommends setting up  Screen Time

Overall, CleanBrowsing does a good job of providing bypass prevention when available, and education when a password alone is not possible. Some of their guides go over how to use other parental controls, such as Family Link . For Apple device, they also mention  supervised mode , which allows you to lock many more settings than you can with Screen Time alone.

Configured Supervised Mode on iOS
Configured Supervised Mode on iOS
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How Well Does CleanBrowsing Block Adult Sites?

CleanBrowsing does a good job if your goal is to block adult content. There are some custom filters that you can choose to enable, depending on what kind of content you want to block.

One of the biggest issues you can run into online is something called Mixed-Content Sites. You can create you own custom allow or blocklists with their Pro 50 plan (which is about $150 per year)

Mixed-Content Sites: Websites or Apps, especially social media platforms, that can host both unwanted and legitimate content. For example: Reddit, Twitter, or YouTube.

However, it's important to keep in mind that filtering only works as well as someone can prevent bypass. This is why we recommend installing a content filter on your router , so you can ensure that filtering is enabled for all devices connected.

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Does CleanBrowsing Record Internet Activity?

CleanBrowsing keeps logs of your DNS queries. You can choose how long these logs are stored: either not at all, or up to 90 days. These logs can give you a high-level view of what kinds of activity are going to your connected devices.

Is CleanBrowsing Worth It?

It depends on what your goals are. Some people will have more rigorous needs, and if you do, then CleanBrowsing by itself might not be enough.

CleanBrowsing provides instructions about how to use their platform, but don't dive into deeper topics like device management.

The instructions that CleanBrowsing provide on their site are mainly focused around how to set up their filter on various devices - especially different model routers. There is not much support when it comes to more advanced configurations. 

CleanBrowsing also mentioned device supervision for iOS, but they don't dive into more restrictive techniques - like device management on an  iPhone or Android smartphone.

CleanBrowsing is simple - and relatively inexpensive.

This can be a plus if you're looking for something to jump into, however, it is not the only DNS filter out there. It might be worth it to compare the differences.

However, CleanBrowsing's family plan is relatively cheap at about $75 per year.

CleanBrowsing doesn't offer more advanced bypass prevention features.

Smartphone devices are notoriously difficult to enforce apps on. While you might be able to use an AppLocker on your Android phone, iOS devices tend to be more difficult.

Again, this isn't an issue on CleanBrowsing's end. Smartphones are very tricky, and in many cases, device management or supervision is required in order to get the most restrictive (and most bypass resistant) setup.

CleanBrowsing offers a free-tier option, however free-tier performance is significantly reduced.

CleanBrowsing does offer a free tier. The free tier has three different options:

  • Family Filter: A filter that blocks access to adult and explicit sites, in addition to security risks. SafeSearch is enforced for search engines, and mixed-content sites are blocked. 
  • Adult Filter: just blocks adult and explicit sites. SafeSearch mode is enforced for search engines.
  • Security Filter: Blocks known malicious sites, such malware or phishing sites.

However, one of the anecdotes we've seen repeatedly from people who used the free tier filters is poor performance. If you are willing to pay for their premium filters, performance isn't an issue, but depending on where you live, free tier users can expect to experience significant performance issues and latency.

A better alternative would be to use Cloudflare ; you get the same types of filters, but Cloudflare's performance is much better.

CleanBrowsing offers scheduled DNS filters, however, you'll have to pay extra.

If you're wanting to block access to certain websites at certain times of the day, one of the features to look for in a DNS filter is scheduled policies. This is possible with CleanBrowsing, but you will need to use their Pro 50 subscription (which is more expensive than their family plan). 

If you're trying to limit how much time you use certain apps, you can instead use something like Screen Time (on Mac and iPhone) to limit apps instead.

Conclusion: Good!

Overall, CleanBrowsing is a good option that offers solid content filtering, provides good guides for getting started, and does so at a price that doesn't break the bank. 

If you need to use more advanced features, like custom block lists, or scheduled policies, you will have to pay about twice as much as their family plan ($150 vs $75).

However, if you're looking for more advanced features or want to have more restrictive setups, it might be best to look elsewhere.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some other DNS filters?

We have a list where we rank the best DNS filters if you're interested in finding some more options.

What's the difference between device supervision and management? Are these better than a normal device?

Device supervision means that you install a profile on your smartphone. These profiles are used to make changes to the device's settings, and can be enforced in such a way that you can't disable these changes on the smartphone. This can be used to prevent apps from being uninstalled, or block other apps from being installed in the first place.

Device management is a step up from supervision. It unlocks powerful features, like remote management, kiosk mode , and DNS proxy (for iOS/iPhone). These can be used to create very restrictive setups for your smartphone.

A standard device will have to rely on parental control features, or use some other kind of app (like an App locker or App Hider). These methods are a lot less effective, and more likely to bypassed.

Why should I consider device management or supervision?

Both device supervision and management enforce settings that you can't do on a normal device. You can enforce apps, block apps, prevent changes to network settings, and many more.

Manage Android and iOS Devices at Home
Manage Android and iOS Devices at Home
Go further with blocking content and preventing bypass on iPhone and Android smartphones.