opendnsOpenDNS is one of the best free PC Security Tools, which we recommend you to start using. It is a website filtering tool, which works at the DNS level. It functions with several other organizations to indentify the harmful and dangerous websites.

Besides security, OpenDNS also adds to the speed of your web surfing, by speeding up the DNS looking process when you visit a website. It uses its powerful cache features to remember the DNS address of a website, when the URL of a website is resolved for any user. When a request for the same website is received from another user, OpenDNS uses its cache to serve the DNS value quickly thus providing a marginal speed to the second user.

It is amazing that how such a useful tool is often not used by many computer users. let’s describe its utility in a little details, if you are not too sure about what it can do for you. First a little basics.

What is DNS

DNS is and acronym for Domain Name Server, an important component of the WWW, which is generally located with your ISP and is responsible to convert a URL address into an IP address. DNS servers are like an interpreter, which allow you to convert the difficult-to-remember IP address of different websites and computers into easy-to-remember URL addresses.

What is OpenDNS, and Why should you use it

OpenDNS is an open source DNS server, which anybody can use bypassing their ISP’s DNS server. You just have to make a few changes in the settings of your computer, or your router if you want to make these changes applicable for all computers in a network.

The advantage of using OpenDNS is that it constantly works with reputed security agencies like PhishTank to identify and categorize harmful and malware distributing websites and blocks their IPs. So, if you un-intentionally try to visit any such website, then it will block your access and provide security to your PC.

Getting a little boost in your speed is an added advantage with using OpenDNS.

That is not all. You get a free account also at OpenDNS and you can easily configure the types and categories of websites, you want to filter away.

Which Type of Websites are Filtered by OpenDNS

OpenDNS divides websites in different categories and you can choose which of them to block based upon your preference and requirements. Following categories are available:

  1. Adware: Sites that distribute applications which display advertisements without user’s knowledge or choice. Does NOT include sites which serve advertising.
  2. Alcohol: Sites about alcohol use, commercial and otherwise.
  3. Chat: Sites where you can chat in real-time with groups of people. Includes IRC.
  4. Classifieds: Sites for buying and selling (or bartering) goods and services.
  5. Dating: Sites for meeting other people.
  6. Drugs: Sites about illegal or recreational drug use.
  7. File storage: Sites that offer space for hosting, sharing and backup of digital files.
  8. Gambling: Sites that offer gambling or information about gambling.
  9. Games: Sites that offer game play and information about games (news, tips, cheat codes).
  10. Hate/Discrimination: Sites that promote intolerance based on gender, age, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or other group identities.
  11. Instant messaging: Sites that offer access or software to communicate in real-time with other individuals.
  12. P2P/File sharing: Sites that facilitate the sharing of digital files between individuals, especially via peer-to-peer software, including torrent sites.
  13. Social networking: Sites that promote interaction and networking between people.
  14. Video sharing: Sites for sharing video content.
  15. Visual search engines: Sites for searching for images based on keywords.
  16. Weapons: Sites about weapons, commercial and otherwise.
  17. Webmail: Sites that offer the ability to send or receive email.
  18. Photo sharing: Sites for sharing photographs, as individual images, galleries and albums.
  19. Adult Themes: Sites that are adult in nature and are not defined in other rating categories. Note: This category should only be turned on if you want to be very restrictive on your network.
  20. Tasteless: Sites that contain information on such subjects as mutilation, torture, horror, or the grotesque.
  21. Lingerie/Bikini: Sites displaying or dedicated to lingerie/bikini that could be considered adult-only.
  22. Proxy/Anonymizer: Sites providing proxy bypass information or services. Also, sites that allow the user to surf the net anonymously, including sites that allow the user to send anonymous emails.
  23. Sexuality: Sites that provide information, images or implications of bondage, sadism, masochism, fetish, beating, body piercing or self-mutilation.
  24. Nudity: Sites that provide images or representations of nudity.
  25. Pornography: Anything relating to pornography, including mild depiction, soft pornography or hard-core pornography.
  26. Forums/Message boards: Sites with discussions, including bulletin boards, message boards and forums.
  27. Phishing Protection: By enabling phishing protection, you’ll protect everyone on your network from known phishing sites using the best data available.

Why OpenDNS is Free

You might be wondering, if OpenDNS is so useful, why it is Free? Do not they want to make money our of it? Is there any catch?

Actually, they make money with this useful free PC Security Tool, and that is a big money not to mention. Whenever you try to access a website, which is blocked, or is down / unavailable at that moment, you are offered to visit few other sites based upon search results. A few of these sites are sponsored listing and a click on these sites results into revenue generation for OpenDNS. This is their business model.

But it a win-win situation for both OpenDNS and you. You get and excellent free security for your PC and they make the money, when they provide you the security.

How to use OpenDNS

There is a useful YouTube video to give you the details.