Whether it’s to limit distractions during study time or to protect kids from unwanted content, it’s important to know how to block websites in Chrome on Windows. Website blocking is a way to ensure that harmful, violent, or sexual content doesn’t reach people you don’t want exposed to it. From a self-discipline point of view, it’s useful to force yourself to get productive work done, instead of scrolling through 9GAG all day long. Read on to find out how to do this.
1. Block Site – Chrome Web Extension
The easiest way to block unwanted websites in Chrome is to use a Chrome web extension. We prefer to use Block Site. It’s simple and robust. It lets you both whitelist and blacklist websites. It also gives you the option to block website URLs that contain specific words (e.g. violent or sexual terms).
You can password protect the extension’s options page to make it harder to uninstall. This is the main drawback though. Even if you can’t uninstall it, you could always just uninstall Chrome. Or use a different browser, for that matter.
- Very easy to set up, practically a one-click install
- Robust featureset
- Chrome itself can be uninstalled
- You can simply use a different browser
This is a tool that I’ve written about before. It’s very useful for removing distractions so you can be more productive. However, it also has very robust website blocking capabilities. Once you install the app, FocusMe lets you configure black and whitelists for blocking websites. You can schedule time periods in which to block these sites or simply set it to unlimited. You can also password-protect your settings.
The highlight is that this blocks access to these sites globally: even if you were to use a browser other than Chrome, you still wouldn’t be able to bypass it. Moreover, it can actually close tabs if you try to open up a tab to a given website. The main drawback is that FocusMe is premium software with a hefty yearly subscription of $30. We wouldn’t recommend buying it just to block websites.
- Black and whitelisting functionality
- Highly survivable–it can prevent you from uninstalling
- Can block more than just websites
- Costs $30 per year
3. Windows Host File
The hosts file is kind of like an address book that your computer uses–it maps particular URLs to corresponding IP addresses. Of course, the host file doesn’t have to host all of these for all websites (that’s what a DNS server is for). That doesn’t mean you can’t add in your own definitions. If you want to block access to a site on Chrome, one nifty trick is to edit the host file.
Your host file’s in the System32 directory. You open it up, type the localhost loopback IP address (127.0.0.1), then type in the URL you want to block. Instead of going to the site, your system will just loop back to itself. If you’re trying to use the hosts file to block web access, it works best with limited user accounts. A standard user won’t have administrative privileges to edit the hosts file so they’ll be unable to gain access to the site.
Alternately, you can check out our list of best Host File Editor for Windows 10, Host File Editor lets you directly edit the hosts file without moving the original file.
- Blocks the site globally, not just in Chrome
- Users with standard accounts won’t be able to undo the website block
- You have to manually enter each site you want to block
- Users with admin privileges can simply revert the changes
4. OpenDNS Web Filtering
This is a slightly more complicated solution, but it works great. Remember what I said about DNS servers? They’re what tell your computer what IP address corresponds to what URL. Your ISP will have you connected to a particular default DNS server but you can configure your router to use a better provider like OpenDNS. Once your router’s set to use OpenDNS, you’ll want to create an OpenDNS account.
This gives you the option to let the DNS server filter out unwanted websites for you. If you’re assigned a static IP address, you just need to give this to OpenDNS. If your ISP assigns you a dynamic IP address, you’ll have to install an extra piece of software that communicates dynamic IP changes to OpenDNS. After you do all this, the blocked sites on your OpenDNS dashboard will no longer be available to anyone connected to that particular router.
- Block access to unwanted sites for anyone connected to your router
- System-wide block: uninstalling Chrome doesn’t let you bypass it
- Relatively harder to configure and requires basic networking know-how
- Doesn’t let you have granular, user-level access control
5. Windows 10 Family Settings
Windows 10 has a range of family settings that let you monitor and restrict access family members’ access to your computer. This includes the option to enable website filtering. You need to set up a Windows family group for this to work. There are two classes of users: adults and kids. Adult users have access to the user account privileges for kids. They can blacklist websites which will then not be accessible to kids when they use any browser, including Chrome.
Kids don’t have access to the settings. The main drawback here is that all users in the group need to have actual Microsoft accounts, making this less useful for temporary situations. It’s also less useful if you’re trying to prevent yourself from accessing particular websites
- Blocks website access system-wide
- All users need a Microsoft account
- Not very useful for self-monitoring
6. Router-based blocking
This approach is similar to the DNS server approach we’d mentioned earlier. Many routers themselves have the option to block particular websites. Some have more robust functionality than others, and some don’t have this feature at all. If your router does have a “block websites” feature, it’ll usually be present under the Security heading. You can set what websites you want blacklisted and you may also be able to set schedules for blocking.
If you’re lucky, your router might have MAC address-based website blocking built in. This will let you block specific websites for specific MAC addresses. This means that only the devices you want to restrict site access will be restricted.
There are drawbacks here, though. While you can set a username and password to restrict router access, it’s always possible for other users to hard reset the router and undo your changes.
- Systemwide website block that goes beyond just Chrome
- Can be used if target users have local admin privileges
- The router can be hard reset
- Not all routers have all the functionality mentioned here
7. Cold Turkey
This is for really hardcore users who don’t want any blocking slip-ups. Cold Turkey is similar to FocusMe in that it’s an app that deliberately restricts your access to apps and websites. Unlike FocusMe, the default setting prevents you from disabling it. It’s got very extensive uninstall protection built in. The website blocker is robust and lets you whitelist and blacklist sites, besides settings time limits and breaks.
Dedicated uninstaller software like Revo can be used to get rid of it. If a user wanted to get really creative, they could copy this over on a pen drive and proceed to uninstall Cold Turkey. But the app has strong enough uninstall protection that you really will have to go out of your way to cheat it.
There are drawbacks too, of course. While the default version is free the Pro version costs $30. Moreover, Cold Turkey is really serious about its block times. If you accidentally enable it for a long period, you will literally not be able to access your system, short of taking drastic measures.
- Very robust uninstall protection
- Lots of website-blocking features, like scheduling, whitelisting etc
- Pro version is expensive
- Overzealous uninstall protection can make your life hard if you accidentally enable Cold Turkey
Each of these website blocking solutions has its benefits and drawbacks. If you’re just looking to block Chrome websites, the BlockSite extension offers great functionality, with support for whitelisting and blacklisting. The drawback, of course, is that other browsers won’t be protected. FocusMe and Cold Turkey have very robust blocking and uninstall protection features. However, they can cost quite a bit. And sometimes, they can be a bit too zealous: If you accidentally enable Cold Turkey, you might not be able to use your system for a few hours.
The Hosts file tweak is a very simple way of restricting access to specific sites, but it only really works if the users your setting up for don’t have administrative privileges. Otherwise, they can just rollback your changes. Windows Family group is a great way to limit your kids’ access to the internet. In theory. In practice, it’s a bit messy to set up, since everyone needs to have their own Microsoft account.
And lastly, the DNS and router-based approaches work great and are safe from users with local admin privileges. Physical access to the router is a problem, though, since users can just reset it.
There is no fool-proof way to block websites on Chrome or on Windows in general. However, a combination of these options and some smart policymaking can go a long way.