As my kids are starting to want to “look for things on the internet”, I started caring about what they might accidentally stumble onto, even in an appropriately supervised context.

I had vaguely heard about OpenDNS for some time, but had not really paid much attention to it. A few relatively recent articles on using it to make an internet connection somewhat more “family-friendly” caught my attention, and I finally signed up for a free account to try it out.

I have a local caching bind which forwarded to the nameservers that TWC provides to me (and to which I redirect all outgoing nameserver traffic via firewall rules), and I really haven’t noticed nameservice being slow, so the “speed up your internet” advertising from OpenDNS wasn’t ringing true. But the ability to filter out the worst of the sites dedicated to things that I think don’t have a place in my home was interesting. So I signed up for a free account, changed a few lines in my bind configuration, and packaged and installed ddclient according to OpenDNS’s instructions so that OpenDNS will continue to associate my home network with my home network settings on those rare occasions when my IP changes.

We weren’t seeing lots of questionable content before the switch, so the fact that we’ve seen a total of two sites blocked since we signed up for the service is fine. It says that I can establish what I think are reasonable controls and it won’t get in the way of normal activities.

Purely because I appreciate the service (I don’t really care very much about saving statistics for longer), I signed up for a paid account. This service seems to me to be worth the $9.95/year.

A few days ago, OpenDNS rolled out a new free service called FamilyShield – you can use a pre-configured set of filters without setting up any account at all merely by using and as your DNS servers (they include detailed instructions for how to do this on many different OS variants). This is exactly the same thing you’d get by signing up for their service and enabling the same set of filters for your account, so it’s easy enough to upgrade to their free service if you want to customize the filters – you just sign up for a free account, change the IP address you use for the resolvers, choose the filters you want, associate your IP address with your account, and (if you, like most people, have a dynamic IP) set up one of the many dynamic DNS clients available (they list several) to keep that association up to date.

I’m just a satisfied customer.