As a parent in the digital age, keeping your kids safe online is a top concern. You want to protect them from inappropriate content and limit time wasted on unproductive sites. But with so many devices and browsers, blocking access can be a challenge.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore several effective methods to block websites on Windows. Whether you use Windows 10, 8, or 7, these tips will help you filter content and restrict access across devices.
Why Parents Need to Block Websites
There are a few key reasons blocking certain sites is critical for parents:
- Filter inappropriate content: The internet is filled with adult content, violent media, and other inappropriate material not suitable for kids. As a parent, you need tools to block this.
- Limit distractions: Social media, gaming sites, YouTube, and other fun websites can be major distractions. Blocking these during homework time helps kids focus.
- Reduce internet addiction: Uncontrolled internet use can lead to compulsive behaviors. Blocking sites helps break bad habits.
- Improve cybersecurity: Some websites harbor malware, viruses, or other threats. Blocking dangerous sites improves safety.
- Enforce screen time limits: Kids can get hooked scrolling and lose track of time. Website blocking allows you to take control of their online access.
- Monitor internet use: When you block sites, you can better monitor where kids are going online and what they’re being exposed to.
The key is finding a website blocking method that is effective, easy to manage, and hard to bypass. The options below check all these boxes.
How to Block Websites in Windows Using a Third-Party App
The most robust way to block sites across all browsers is using a dedicated website blocking program. These give you centralized control and reporting features superior to other options.
Here are the main benefits of using an app to block websites on Windows:
- Works across all major browsers
- Easy to set global blocking rules
- Lets you block by keyword, URL, or category
- Sets time limits for site access
- Password protects settings
- Generates activity reports
- Hard for kids to bypass
Our top pick: Cold Turkey
Cold Turkey is the best website and internet blocking app for Windows. It’s affordable at $2/month, gives you tons of blocking options, and has a streamlined interface.
With Cold Turkey you can:
- Block the entire internet for set periods
- Blacklist specific sites or allowlists
- Block by keyword in URL
- Set scheduled access times
- Block apps and games
- Get productivity analytics
- Lock settings with a password
The free version lets you block up to 10 sites. The paid Pro version unlocks unlimited blocking.
To block sites using Cold Turkey:
- Download and install the Cold Turkey app
- Enter sites to block under the “Blacklist” tab
- Set a schedule if desired under the “Schedule” tab
- Click “Lock Now” and enter a password to activate
Cold Turkey makes it easy to block the sites and apps you want across any browser on Windows. For robust parental controls, it can’t be beaten.
How to Block Websites in Windows Hosts File
The Windows Hosts file lets you override DNS and redirect URLs to different IP addresses. By mapping domains to the localhost IP, you can block sites across all browsers.
Benefits of editing the Hosts file:
- Works in all browsers
- Doesn’t require 3rd party software
- Permanently blocks sites until removed
- Block redirects to localhost rather than error pages
- More difficult to bypass than router or browser settings
How to block websites in Windows Hosts file:
- Open Notepad as Administrator
- Go to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc
- Open the
- Add entries like 127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com
- Save changes and restart computer
Now navigating to the blocked domain will redirect to your local computer rather than loading the site.
The downside to this method is you have to manually edit the Hosts file each time you want to block a new site. But for a static block list, it’s reliable and effective.
How to Use Windows Firewall to Block Sites
Another built-in Windows option is configuring the Windows Firewall to block web traffic. This works by blacklisting IP address ranges.
Benefits of using Windows Firewall to block websites:
- Prevents connections to websites from all browsers and apps
- Lets you block entire web hosting ranges
- Can block both inbound and outbound traffic
- Easy to automate with PowerShell scripts
How to block websites with Windows Firewall:
- Open Windows Firewall Advanced Security
- Right click Outbound Rules > New Rule
- Choose Custom + “All programs”
- Select “These IP addresses“
- Enter website IP address ranges
- Select Block the connection
- Apply to Domain, Private, and Public
- Name rule & Finish
Repeat steps to add multiple entries. This method does take more technical expertise but gives you low-level control of web traffic.
How to Block Websites in Chrome
Many parents rely on Chrome’s robust extensions ecosystem to control web access.
Benefits of blocking websites in Chrome:
- Huge selection of blocking extensions
- Option to block globally as admin
- Easy to configure
- Additional productivity features
Popular Chrome website blocking extensions:
- BlockSite – Free, allows whitelisting
- uBlock Origin – Open source ad and site blocker
- StayFocusd – Blocks sites and sets time limits
As a Chrome admin, you can also enforce website blocking on all managed devices. This gives you system-wide control without installing anything on each computer.
How to Block Websites in Firefox
Firefox also makes it easy to block sites using the robust add-ons available.
Benefits of blocking websites in Firefox:
- Supports powerful site blocking add-ons
- Lets you import block lists
- Easy to set custom block pages
- Syncs blocking settings across devices
Top Firefox website blocking extensions:
- LeechBlock NG – Blocks sites and enforces time limits
- BlockSite – Blocks sites and allows whitelists
- uBlock Origin – Open source ad and tracker blocker
These add-ons give you granular control to block the sites you want. You can also import and export your block lists.
How to Block Websites in Microsoft Edge
Edge is the default browser on Windows 10 and has robust extension support.
Benefits of blocking websites in Edge:
- Integrates well with Windows 10
- Allows extensions like other Chromium browsers
- Can enforce SafeSearch filtering
- Easier for less tech-savvy parents
Top Edge website blocking extensions:
- BlockSite – Allows whitelisting sites
- StayFocusd – Blocks sites and manages time
- uBlock Origin – Blocks ads, trackers, and sites
Edge makes it straightforward to find and install extensions. Once added, you can block and allowlist websites with granular control.
Block Adult Websites Using Microsoft Family Safety
Parents wanting a streamlined way to filter adult content should use Microsoft Family Safety. This built-in Windows 10 feature restricts mature websites and content.
Key features of Microsoft Family Safety:
- Enforces SafeSearch on Edge
- Blocks inappropriate and adult material
- Can monitor web browsing history
- Sends email reports to parents
- Integrates with Windows user accounts
How to block adult sites with Family Safety:
- Create a child account with Microsoft
- Turn on Family Safety for their account
- Go to Content filters > Web and search
- Toggle on “Block inappropriate websites“
- Set filter strictness level
Family Safety makes website filtering and parental monitoring easy for Windows 10 families. The controls are more limited than dedicated apps but provide a simplified solution.
How to Block Websites on Your Router
For network-wide blocking, configure restrictions right on your router. All devices on your home WiFi will adhere to the rules.
Benefits of blocking sites on your router:
- Sets site restrictions for all connected devices
- Works for phones, tablets, game consoles, etc
- Persists outside the home if using a VPN
- Doesn’t require changes to each device
How to block websites on your router:
- Log in to your router admin console
- Find parental controls or content filtering options
- Select website blocking or URL filtering
- Enter sites to always or never block
- Save settings
With routers like ASUS, Linksys, Netgear, and others you can filter network traffic. The configuration steps will vary between manufacturers but achieve the same network-wide blocking effect.
Top Tips for Effective Website Blocking
- Use a reputable website blocking app for the most robust blocking on Windows across all browsers and profiles.
- Password protect any tools or settings so kids can’t easily bypass restrictions.
- To block an entire site, block the root domain (e.g. facebook.com) rather than individual pages.
- For video sites like YouTube, restrict by category if you want to allow some access.
- Test that selected sites are actually blocked and not bypassing the restrictions.
- Set time limits on site access rather than outright banning if appropriate.
- Communicate openly with kids about why you have blocked certain sites.
- Combine website blocking with offline activities and active screen time limits.
- Blocking websites helps parents filter inappropriate content, manage distractions, control screen time, and improve online safety.
- The most effective approach uses a dedicated blocking tool like ColdTurkey that works across all browsers.
- Editing the Windows Hosts file provides system-wide blocking but requires manual editing.
- Browser extensions like uBlock Origin offer lightweight site blocking.
- For network-level filtering, configure restrictions on your router.
- Microsoft Family Safety integrates blocking on Windows 10 but has limited options.
- Blocking adult sites reduces exposure to mature content but monitor usage too.
- Use a combination of methods for defense-in-depth website filtering at home.
With the right website blocking tools and some guidance, kids can safely explore online. Protecting their digital experiences is easier than ever on Windows.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best free website blocker for Windows?
BlockSite is an excellent free extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera that allows blocking specific sites or categories. The free version supports blocking up to 6 sites.
Can I block websites at certain times only?
Yes, apps like ColdTurkey allow you to set schedules for when sites are blocked or accessible. This lets you restrict websites during study hours or bedtime, for example.
Will incognito or private browsing bypass the blocks?
Incognito and private modes use the same browser extensions and settings, so website blocking will be enforced the same. Third party apps also prevent bypassing through these modes.
How can I block websites on all my kids’ devices?
Setting up blocking at the router level blocks sites on all connected devices, including tablets, phones, and game consoles.
What is the best way to block inappropriate content?
Using a robust third party website blocking app provides the most control over inappropriate content. But router-level blocking and Family Safety also help filter mature sites.
Can website blocking be bypassed?
Kids find creative technical workarounds if motivated. Combining blocking with open communication/monitoring is ideal. Making restrictions reasonable reduces temptation to bypass them.
How do I block sites on Windows 7 or 8?
The methods in this guide like Hosts editing, family safety controls, and third party apps work on Windows 7 and 8 too. The specific steps may vary slightly between versions.
Does antivirus software block malicious sites?
Antivirus will warn if you try to access known malicious pages. But standalone blocking tools are better for filtering broad categories of inappropriate or unproductive content.
Can I whitelist allowed sites and block everything else?
Yes, website blocking tools like ColdTurkey allow configuring a whitelist of approved sites. This is an effective approach for locking down devices tightly.