Do It Yourself Internet Filter

18 Easy* Steps to Set Up Your Own Internet Filter

Net Nanny understands that keeping your kids safe online is important. So, for those of you who don't want to rely on an award winning, industry leading, secure, easy to update, simple to setup, reliable, and effective piece of software like Net Nanny, we've created this Do It Yourself guide to create your own Internet Filter.

CLICK ME - Please read Disclaimer before beginning this DIY Internet Filter Tutorial - CLICK ME

Step One - Find your host file

We've made these instructions so simple, you only have to find one file... kind of... more on that in Steps Fifteen and Sixteen. Depending on which operating system is running on your computer, you will find the host file (most often called 'hosts') here:
  • Windows 95/98/ME -- C:WINDOWS
  • Windows 2000 -- C:WINNTsystem32driversetc
  • Windows XP/Vista/7 -- C:WINDOWSsystem32driversetc
  • Windows Mobile -- Registry key under HKEYLOCALMACHINECommTcpipHosts

Step Two - Backup your host file

In the rare case that you can't follow these simple 34 steps and happen to damage the file, it is good to have a backup you can copy/paste over to the original location. So, without further ado, right click on the file you just found, click on "copy", navigate your mouse cursor over your desktop, right click on the desktop, click on "paste". If everything went like it should have, you now have the same file on your desktop and within the file location stated in step one.

Step Three - Open your host file

The file is a simple text format, meaning it can be opened with any standard text editor. If you are on Windows, be sure to NOT edit the file in Microsoft Office Word, as Word often puts extra little pieces of formatting in it's saved documents - things that could mess the file up. If you're lucky, you can right click on the file, click on "Open with" and select the "Notepad" application. If you're not lucky, just double click on the file and see what happens. If this file is opened in a program that looks like it is a simple text editor, you're good to go. If double clicking the file crashes or freezes your computer then you've got really big problems and need to get your computer fixed or replaced.

Step Four - Get to know your host file

This step is a lot easier than it sounds - we don't expect you to put on a name sticker and go up to the file, make awkward small chat, exchange names/hobbies/interests, all in an attempt to get to know each other. We really just expect you to look at the contents of the file.

Step Five - Determine the address of your computer

Just like your home has an address, so does your computer. Just imagine... with billions and billions of computers in just the USA (including computers in things like mobile phones, laptops and advanced toasters), if a computer didn't have an address it would be awfully difficult for the Internet to work its way around the jumble of computer connections. That being said, most computers refer to themselves with a different address then the other computers in their environment refer to them. Wow, this is pretty complex. Let's just put it this way... the vast majority of computers refer to their own address as Sometimes, if you've already installed some crazy train software on your computer it may have been changed to Either of those is fine really. The first line in your host file should display one of these numbers, followed with some spaces and then the word 'localhost'. Localhost is another way your computer refers to itself. That number in the first line, tells the rest of the file that the number is your local computers address. You'll need to remember that number for later, when your setting the sites you'd like to block in the file (but you don't really need to remember too hard because it's right there, in the first line).

Step Six - Determine what website categories you want to block

The great thing about creating your own Internet filter is that you get to determine exactly which websites you want blocked. So, the best way to block all the bad sites is to first determine what sites you think are bad. Do you dislike pornography? Okay, get a pad of paper and write down 'pornography' so you don't forget. Do you dislike gambling? Ditto on the pad of paper jotting down bit. Do you dislike kittens? If so, shame on you. Yada Yada... you get the point. Go through and write down everything you'd like to block.

Step Seven - Choose which search engine you like most

Now go to Google (unless you think Google is an evil company that is trying to take over the world - if that's the case you can go to [no, nevermind... Microsoft is pretty big and scary too] and get ready to start searching.

Step Eight - Search category terms for website addresses you want to block

Type the category you want to block (refer to pad of paper upon which you've written the categories) into the search field. After typing the term into the little search box, hit the enter key. This should show you tons of results for your term. If you are using a good search engine, it will display the website address in the results (Google displays it in green at the bottom of the result).

Step Nine - Determine whether search result websites contain bad material

All the web address that came up in the search contain the category you just searched for. Not all the sites are bad though. For example, if you have bad memories from your childhood and have chosen to block all sites about 'smurfs' the Google search engine will give you 3.9 million results. The first result in Google is for the Smurfs homepage - a site with TONS of scary images of smurfs. You'll definitely want to block this site. So, write down the website address for the Smurfs homepage ( The second result in Google, however, is Wikipedia, which has some really bad stuff (like content describing smurfs) but has some really great stuff too (like content describing world peace). Here is where you will need to make a judicial decision... to block or not to block. With your DIY Internet filter you have only two options, block the whole site OR allow the whole site. Unlike feature rich Net Nanny (which allows you to block individual pages within a website instead of just the whole site), your filter is going to really teach your kids "who's boss". If you determine that Wikipedia contains more good than bad, and that you want to allow access to this site, don't write that web address down. Repeat this step for the remaining search engine results.

Step Ten (optional) - Hire help to create your list of bad sites

If you're trying to just block mention of 'smurfs', you'll only have 3.9 million websites to look through to determine if the content is bad or not. However, if you're going to tackle a category as prolific as 'pornography' you'll want to get some help looking through the sites (especially if you don't like to view porn yourself - which we're hoping is the case). Pornography has 12.7 million Google search results. If you'd like to help yourself, and the world at the same time, outsource this categorization work to Bangladesh. The average cost of labor there is only $0.23 per hour. So, if you pay $0.50 an hour you'll be making them really happy as well as keeping your own costs down.

Step Eleven - Translate the web address to host file friendly format

Since you didn't give it more foresight, you've probably written down the big list of website addresses you want blocked in a format, right? Sorry, your host file doesn't like that format. You need to switch all the web addresses over to '' from ''.

Step Twelve - Enter the web addresses into your host file

The host file will need two columns. Depending on what you've installed on your computer, you may already have the two column thing very apparent. Most likely, though, you've only got one entry in the file, and it doesn't really look like you've got the 2 columns going on yet. Probably just the '', followed by some spaces, and then 'localhost'. If you put your mouse at the end of that line (assuming you still have the file open on your computer, if not - repeat Steps One and Three and then return to this step) and click, you should see a little vertical bar blinking (it blinks slow, so wait for it). Now hit enter, and it will move to the next line. Type the number string (Either OR - refer to Step Five if you're lost) in and then hit the space bar till the little vertical blinky bar is resting under the text "localhost". Now type in the website address you'd like to block, in the format you put together in Step Eleven. After you enter the website address in, you can hit the enter key and do it all over again. Repeat the 37.4 million or more times it will probably take you to enter all the website pages you want to block.

Step Thirteen - Save your host file

Depending which text editor program you're using to edit your host file, the instructions for this step may vary, but in most cases there will be a "File" option at the top left of the window containing your host file. Click "File" and then click on "Save". It should have saved the file. However, because the file is really really big if you're blocking several million websites, you'll want to double check your work. DON'T close this file, as any work you've put in will be lost if the file didn't save. If your computer crashes after/while saving this file, skip down to Step Sixteen and then come back to this step and try it again after completing Step Sixteen

Step Fourteen - Save it again, and again, and again

Right click on the text you just entered, Click on "Select All". This will highlight all the work you've just done. Then right click again, click on "Copy". Open this text editor (the one your using now) again and right click in the blank space. Then click on "Paste". Voila! You should now see the list you just created here as well. Good job! Now go back and click "File", then "Save". Because this is a new file, it won't auto save it like the previous file did. It will bring up a save dialog, in which you can choose the destination to where the file will be saved. After choosing the destination, name the file as "BACKUPhosts.htm" and then click save. Okay, now we're hoping this saved your file that you spent so much time on. Just to be sure, repeat this step three or four more times.

Step Fifteen - Ensure your computer doesn't crash

If your host file is too large (it probably is) then when your computer tries display a website and has to search this file your computer will probably come to a screeching hault. Windows has actually built in a safe guard that is triggering your computer to crash, but it might not be necessary. So, go ahead and disable the safe guard (if you dare). Go to Start (the Start Menu at bottom left of your computer screen) and click on it. Then go to "Run" and click on it. Then in the little dialog box that pops up enter "services.msc" and hit the Enter key. This should bring up a small application.

Step Sixteen - Deactivate Windows safe guard tool

Navigate to DNS Client, right click on it. Click on "Properties". Under Start-up Type, select Manual. Click Apply. Then, below that, click on Stop. This should have deactivated the Windows safe guard tool that limits your computer by causing it to crash when your host file is too large.

Step Seventeen - Pray that your child doesn't figure this out

Depending on which version of Windows you are running, your host file may only be edited by the user with Administrator privileges. If this is the case, just make sure your child can't guess your admin account password. If they can, then they can get it and erase all the entries you put into your host file. In that case, I hope you've got the written down list stored safely away to restore the list. Ultimately, if they don't have your admin password, but the computer is using an older version of Windows, they still may be able to access your host file to delete the block site entries. Best bet here is to just pray that your child doesn't figure this out.

Step Eighteen - Enjoy your new Internet Filter!

If you've made it this far in the instructions, you really deserve your awesome new Internet Filter! Enjoy it! If by some crazy chance you've made it this far, and the Internet filter isn't working, go buy Net Nanny. Heck, for all the hard work you've put in we'll even give you a killer discount! Actually, we figured you'd be smart enough to not go this far in the instructions and figured you'd just go straight for Net Nanny, the #1 ranked Internet filter, so we've already applied the discount to your puchase. Simply click the "Buy Now" button at the top right, or click a "Buy Now" button anywhere on this website, and you'll get 25% taken off the purchase price. Enjoy!

* Easy is a relative term. Bill Gates level and higher nerds will most likely find this process easy. ContentWatch cannot be held liable for any time you may waste actually attempting this. ContentWatch is also not liable for any damage you may inflict upon your computer hardware after becoming angry at how out of the way this process actually is. ContentWatch cannot be held liable for any operating system or software problems that may arise from messing with your Host File. In other words, complete this DIY tutorial at your own risk/peril.