I'm sure there are a lot of reasons you would want to block certain websites. Maybe you're a business owner or a parent that wants to block inappropriate and dangerous sites from your workforce or children. On the other hand, you might be a remote employee or self-employed and you want to block websites to stay focused on productivity. Web sites can be a threat to your home or business as it's a gateway for cybercriminals to get access to your home or office computes. Thankfully, you can block websites on a computer, a smartphone, or across an entire network. Here are some quick and easy instructions to help you block websites at your home or business.
1. Use Web Blocking Software. If you're looking to block websites on a single computer or device, web blocking software is the best solution. These programs are customizable which allows you to set what times you’re allowed to visit certain sites or start a timer that blocks all access to distracting social media. They can also track browser usage and highlight the sites that are draining away your time.
Here are the best programs:
Cold Turkey (www.getcoldturkey.com) Cold Turkey offers a more aggressive solution for free. You can even block the entire Internet with this program.
Freedom (www.freedom.to) This free application blocks sites, apps, or all Internet access, plus includes support for whitelisting, block scheduling, and locked mode that can’t be disabled. It also works on pretty much every browser or operating system.
SelfControl (www.seflcontrolapp.com) Only for Mac, this free and open source app is super simple. You just set the websites you want to block and start the timer, and even if you delete the program or restart your computer, the block will remain. It’s a great solution if you struggle with self-control.
Net Nanny (www.netnanny.com) Made for households rather than organizations, Net Nanny allows you to monitor other devices, block websites and apps, and manage screen time.
2. Install a Web Browser Extension for Your Computer. All current versions of web browsers come with an option to install extensions that can modify how your browser works. These extensions are made by developers around the world, and they can do a great job blocking websites.
Here are some site blocking browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
StayFocusd. StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that’s highly customizable. You can block all sites, only those on your blocked list, or all but those on your whitelist. Then set up a timer and finally get to work.
Pause. Pause takes a gentler approach. It simply interrupts you as you visit a distracting website and encourages you to do something more productive.
For Opera, try the Block Site addon. Microsoft Edge’s extension store and Safari’s extensions don’t currently have a dedicated website blocker, so try downloadable productivity software that’s compatible.
3. Block Websites Manually
If you need a quick and straightforward solution for Windows or Mac that doesn’t require any special software, you should manually block sites. You can do this through your computer or router. Blocking a website manually takes a little work and some computer know-how, so proceed at your own risk.
Block Sites with Hosts File
Windows and Mac have a hosts file you can use to block any websites. When you modify this file, it redirects the blocked website back to your computer.
Here’s how to modify the Hosts File on a Windows Computer:
Open File Explorer by clicking the folder icon in your taskbar. Click the bar to the left of Search and paste in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc
Double click the hosts file and open it using Notepad or some other text editor. Create a new line at the bottom of the file by tapping Enter.
On the new line, paste in the IP 127.0.0.1 and then type the URL of the domain you want to block. For instance if you want to hide Facebook, the line will look like this: 127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com
To block more sites, create a new line for each, and follow the step above again. Make sure to save your changes and close the file.
Here's how to modify the Hosts File on a Macintosh Computer:
Press F4 and type in “terminal” to find and launch the Terminal.
To open the hosts file in the Nano text editor, type in sudo nano /private/etc/hosts and enter your computer password.
Create a new line at the bottom of the file, then type in 127.0.0.1 followed by a space and the URL of the domain you want to block, just like Step 3 and 4 in the Windows tutorial above. When you’re finished, save the file and close it.
Enable Parental Controls on a Windows or Macintosh Computer
Both Windows and Mac come with parental controls that can help you block websites.
Here’s how to enable parental controls in Windows:
Type in “Add, edit, or remove other users” into the search bar and click the result to open the Family & other users tab. Click Add a family member to create a second user.
Create a Microsoft family account to set up a family group on your computer.
Log in to your family account, click the new user’s name, and click Content Restrictions. Then find Web Browsing and turn on Block inappropriate websites. Then you can add new websites to block, or only allow specific sites.
Here's how to set up Parental Controls on Mac:
Create a second user account. Open the Mac menu and click System Preferences, then Users & Groups. Tap the plus button to create a new account.
Open the menu, click System Preferences, and then Parental Controls. Select the new user account to set up restrictions. Click Web and enter the sites you want to block.
4. How to Block Websites On Mobile Devices.
There are many ways to block websites on a computer, there are fewer options for smartphone and tablet uses mobile users have fewer options. On most mobile devices, you’ll need to resort to apps to block websites. These are similar to downloadable computer programs in that they’re a little more configurable and work across multiple browsers. Here are a few Android and iOS apps that can help.
FocusMe — As an app and website blocker, FocusMe enables you to track how much time you waste and set up usage limiters or schedules. Teach yourself to focus less on your phone and more on your work.
BlockSite — Break bad habits by preventing any distracting apps or sites from loading. Set up content filters, focus timers, and schedules that work for you.
Zero Willpower — With super simple setup, Zero Willpower strictly cuts off all access to sites
on your block list. Alternatively, it creates a temporary timer that can last hours.
Liberate — Regain control over your life with Liberate. Just add sites to your block list and set an end date. You won’t be able to browse those sites until the timer’s up.
5. Block Sites Through Router
No matter what type of computer, smartphone, or tablet you use, changing router settings lets you block sites across all devices in your household or business.
Every brand of router has a slightly different way to block websites, but on most routers do the following: Find your router’s IP, and type it into your browser’s address bar to get to its settings page. Try 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. Once you get to the main login page, you’ll also need your router username and password. If you haven’t changed it, the username is usually admin, and the password admin, password, or leaving it blank. If that doesn’t work, check your router’s manual.
Once you’re logged in to your router settings page, look for a setting called Block Sites, Access Restrictions, or something similar. You might find it under Security, Parental Controls, or Advanced. Every router is different, so again consult your manual.
Once you find the setting, enter the domains you want to block.
Don't feel bad if you have to resort to website blocking. Many parents, schools, and businesses use this method to hide distracting and dangerous domains such as gaming, adult, gambling, and social media. If used properly, it is a good way to control what children or employees are doing without having to constantly monitor them.
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