For a few months I have been using a service called OpenDNS. So far I’m impressed.
DNS, or Domain Name System for you techno geeks, is how the internet takes the web addresses you type in you computer and finds the website that is tied to the address. Typically you rely on your internet service provider to do this for you. OpenDNS claims that they are able to do this service faster and better, increasing your web speed, and also add new features, all for free. It is also fairly simple to setup, you simply change your network settings on your wireless router (or your computer if you don’t have a home network) to point to a new DNS server. You can then setup an account on their website to access all the additional features.
The biggest advantage that I have found is the ability to filter questionable websites. They have multiple categories that you can block. You can set it up to block everything from auction sites to adult sites to blog sites to about anything (see image below for more info). It gives you the freedom to setup your access any way you want. For my family, this is a great free service. I also think it would work great for churches as well. And although I haven’t seen a huge speed increase, I don’t think it is any slower. I also like that you can customize the page not found page that pops up when you type something wrong. OpenDNS will also correct most typos for you when you type in web addresses.
(Warning: Techno Jargon Ahead!)
It was easy to setup if you are familiar with networking, but it may be a bit tougher if you don’t know the terminology. I have a static IP address, which is pretty unusual for DSL or cable now, but a static address makes the service much easier to setup. If you have a dynamic IP address, you can still use the service, but you will have to update your IP address with them when it changes. They do have a client program that will do this for you.
All in all, I recommend this service. It’s free, it works as advertised, and it is another layer of protection for your family or church. If you have any questions about it, please let me know.