Best Methods for Blocking Websites in 2024

Block websites on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Prevent users from bypassing blocks so that websites remain blocked.

Updated May 13, 2024

Numerous methods exist for blocking websites on all types of devices, but not all of them are effective when you account for common bypass techniques. 

Furthermore, managing contenting blocking rules across many different apps and services is tedious and error prone.

In this article, I'll examine the current website blocking methods that exist. I've dedicated hundreds of hours testing and refining content filtering techniques on dozens of devices.

Based on your use-case, you can choose the blocking method (or combination of blocking methods) that work for you.

There are generally two content blocking layers that I recommend for blocking websites:

  1. Layer 1: DNS Filtering to block websites in a more comprehensive way.
  2. Layer 2: Blocking capabilities that are specific to each type of computer or smartphone.

If you are trying to block adult content , you should combine both of these layers together for a more effective blocking system .

Blocking Websites using DNS Filtering

A DNS Filtering service classifies websites and online apps into different categories based on their content and purpose. This is a more comprehensive way to block websites on many devices.

  1. Point your Home Router to a DNS Filter to block websites on all devices using your home internet connection.
  2. Install an application or configure the network settings on your computers and smartphones to point to your DNS Content Policy so that websites are blocked even when on 4g/5g or when using a WiFi connection away from your home.

When you point your devices to a DNS Filtering service, you can use it as an Internet Firewall for your personal devices. However, this firewall will protect against addictive content or websites you decide to block, not just common online security threats .

The first thing you should do is set a DNS Content Policy , which lets you specify websites to block.

In addition to creating block rules, you can also enforce Google SafeSearch and even YouTube restricted mode.

This approach is ideal because you don't need to maintain a giant list of domains that you should block. A better way is to simply specify categories of websites:

Furthermore, if you are trying to block applications , you might need to block more than one domain.

For example, if you want to block tiktok , its not enough to block The TikTok app would still work. You have to also block a few other domains like to cause the app to stop functioning properly.

A simpler way to do this is to update your DNS Content Policy to specify an app you want to block. For example, selecting the YouTube app would block and all associated domains that the app depends on. 

If, for some reason, you can't find an associated category or app that fits your website blocking needs, you could just specify a domain that you want to block:

There's another approach you can use, which is highly restrictive and effective: Block a category by default, then selectively whitelist specific apps.

For example, you could block the entire Social Media category while excluding LinkedIn specifically.

This approach is ideal for parents who can't possibly keep up with every new social media app. You should block all social media apps by default and selectively whitelist the safe social media apps. Add a schedule for good measure!

Then, if your child discovers a new social media platform, you'll have to explicitly grant access to it.

If you are self-managing, another scenario you need to account for when blocking websites with DNS Filtering: How do I stop myself from logging in removing a website block by editing my DNS Content Policy?

Some people solve for this by making it difficult to access the account where they manage their Content Policy. However, this is risky and inhibits you from making your Content Policy more restrictive when needed.

My solution for this was to design the Tech Lockdown Content Policy to have a Locked Mode .

When you lock your Tech Lockdown profile , you'll be prevented from removing blocked websites, but you'll be able to add blocked websites easily.

Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Create and enforce a Content Policy on all your devices.

Scheduling Website Blocks with a DNS Content Policy

Another reason why DNS Filtering is a core part of my recommend Blocking System is that you can choose to schedule when a website is blocked. 

It's simple to do this by editing your DNS Content Policy to select a category, app, or domain that should be blocked.

Then, assign a schedule to that rule. You can pick days of the week and time ranges to apply the block.

I personally use this approach to limit my access to news and social media to my lunch break.

Otherwise, I always block these categories and apps.

Another approach for scheduling would be to set internet shut off times .

This approach is ideal because it takes 4g/5g connections into account, not just your home Wifi. This doesn't technically turn off your internet, but it lets you block access to everything other than what you specifically whitelist.

For example, I use security cameras at my house that need Wifi to work properly, so I add those services to my allowlist.

Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Create and enforce a Content Policy on all your devices.

Block Websites on Computers

Mac and Windows computers have similar methods for blocking websites. 

There are 3 layers of blocking you can use:

  1. DNS Filtering application or network settings
  2. Hosts File
  3. Browser Extensions or Screen Time (Mac)

The hosts file is a system file that can be used to block websites.

Blocking a specific website with the Hosts File involves adding a line with a domain like this:

This blocking method is particularly useful because it will work even while using a VPN or Proxy. Learn how to block websites with the hosts file.

Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Create and enforce a Content Policy on all your devices.

Blocking Websites on Smartphones

Android and iOS devices have similar methods for blocking websites. 

  1. DNS Filtering
  2. Built-in Parental Controls or apps that block websites

For example, you can use the iPhone's built-in parental controls to block specific websites or Limit Adult Websites.

However, built-in parental controls on Android and iOS like  Apple Screen Time are easily bypassed and lack reliability.

Luckily, Apple provides an alternative to screen time that not many people know about and Android devices can be managed in a similar way.

For example, you can use supervised or managed modes to specify app blocklists on Android or iOS:

You can also enforce a Web Content Filter to block specific URLs or limit adult content:

Furthermore, you could use Allow-only mode to block all URLs by default other than the ones you specify.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I block websites on some devices but not others?

If you are using your DNS Content Policy to block websites, you can assign an audience to a block rule to make this rule only apply to that specific person.

For example, a common scenario would be to block social media websites for kids but not parents.

How do I prevent Website Blocker Browser Extensions from being disabled?

This is one of the reasons we don't recommend depending on browser extensions to block websites. They are more useful when combined with DNS Filtering and the hosts file since all 3 layers will work together without conflicting with each other.

However, there are some ways to prevent browser extensions from being disabled. For example, you can manage a browser similar to how you can manage an iPhone or Android smartphone.

Once a browser is managed, you can specify extensions that cannot be disabled.

Step-by-step instructions
Instructions for managing devices and enforcing browser extensions can be found in your Tech Lockdown dashboard under the Guides section.

Going Further with Bypass Prevention

The main goal at Tech Lockdown is to help people protect themselves from the harmful aspects of the internet. If you are trying to simultaneously block websites and addictive apps while also protecting your devices from security threats, you have an even tougher battle.

Most people aren't motivated to bypass their own virus scanner or privacy tool. But if you are also blocking addicting content, people will go through great lengths to bypass DNS Filtering. This is a difficult combination of incentives. 

This is why I've gone through so much effort to help people prevent bypass of their DNS Filtering. You want to avoid situations where your protective Firewall is unintentionally or intentionally bypassed.

Here are the types of concepts we cover in the Tech Lockdown guides :

  1. Go much further with bypass prevention using device management techniques to enforce restrictions on a device.
  2. Increasing accountability and browsing transparency
  3. Preventing uninstall of apps and browsers extensions
  4. Handling common bypass methods

These step-by-step instructions are made available to Tech Lockdown members in your account dashboard in the guides section.

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