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Good router for URL blocking

I am in the UK and my home broadband is provided by EE, approx 40 mbps fibre, through the free Brightbox 2 router supplied by EE.

Reviews online say that this isn't a bad router, it's 801.11ac and the web interface lets you change quite a lot of settings. One setting I need to be able to use is the URL blocking page. You can enter up to something like 30 different domains and the router will block them. When I have used this page before (listing about 20 different domains to block) everything just seems to slow down. Devices lose connection and everything just seems buggy. Switching the URL blocking setting off seems to fix the problem.

A friend has a theory that because everything I do through the router now needs to be checked against this list of blocked domains, the router is just too slow and crappy to handle it and everything falls apart. It seems I need a better router.

I know the Google OneHub routers are good but are there cheaper alternatives to good routers, particularly one that could handle quite a large list of domains to be blocked?
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More about good router url blocking
  1. Before looking further into your question, answer yourself why you need URLs blocked. If this for parental control - it's quite easy to go around that with (free) proxy or VPN services. For employee control - operating rules are much stronger incentive.

    You did not state whether your router is combo modem/router unit, or just a router, and whether your ISP provides (or has a list of compatible) modem-only service.
  2. Alabalcho said:
    Before looking further into your question, answer yourself why you need URLs blocked. If this for parental control - it's quite easy to go around that with (free) proxy or VPN services. For employee control - operating rules are much stronger incentive.

    You did not state whether your router is combo modem/router unit, or just a router, and whether your ISP provides (or has a list of compatible) modem-only service.


    Hi thanks for the reply. It is for parental control yes. Using the router just seemed like a simple solution. I'm reasonably techy and happy to try other solutions. Can you explain further the proxy and or VPN options (or provide a link to a how-to)?

    It's a combo vdsl modem/router, but I think it can be used as a modem only, linked to a separate router. According to some things I've found online, my ISP allows you to use third party modems/routers instead, I just have to get the username/password right in the config.
  3. He means that someone in your house can use proxy or vpn to defeat any url filter you use.

    URL filtering puts quite a load on the router CPU especially if you are actually filtering the URL content...ie you are blocking just parts of a web site. Still even blocking lists of IP tends to be cpu intensive if you put in large list.

    I would look at one of the larger 802.11ac routers from asus. Not so much because of the wireless but because it has fairly good parental controls and a big cpu. You can load their merlin firmware and do fairly fancy filters.

    Still to really do this function you generally want to use a firewall running on a PC since it has much more memory and cpu. There are a number of free linux based firewalls. Unfortunately what costs money are the lists you can just click on rather than having to key in all the sites. You have to pay all the guys that have to surf porn all day to make the lists :) These lists generally also have the vast majority of the proxy/vpn sites and you can configure the firewall to prevent people from using those to get past you.
  4. Thanks. I understand now what you're saying, that this type of filtering could be defeated but that's fine. It's enough of a barrier for what I need.

    It's sounds like my friend is right then, URL filtering uses router CPU power and my current one isn't good enough. The ISP-supplied "EE Bright Box 2" I'm currently using has a 400 MHz dual core processor. If I upgrade to something like the TP-Link Archer VR900 (1 GHz dual core processor) is it likely this will fix my problem? Worth a try I guess?
  5. If it has the URL filter parental software. I can barely keep up with these so I don't know if it has the feature. Generally i recommend people buy routers that can load third party firmware like DD-WRT or others. These have had features like this for years. The main thing though is you can not load third party firmware on a router than has a DSL modem so you need either a dsl modem or live with the router behind router nat problem.
  6. You can also try locking kid's computers (taking out administrative access so they cannot install software, and change major settings). Windows 10 provides quite easy-to-use (I don't know how effective) parental control options. Locking the computers is your first line of defense whatever solution you choose (and don't forget the tablets and smart phones which do not use your WiFi).

    Check OpenDNS service - you can enter your rules there, so that www.prohibitedsite.com will not go thru (but you have to lock the computer).
  7. Best answer
    While quite simple, *if* you lock down your machines' administrative privileges, hosts file blocking is very effective.

    I use it on all of my users to keep them from visiting bad places inadvertently by using the basic blocking files from HERE and then adding others that I want to block.

    A positive side effect is that almost no adware shows up on any pages, including THG. :)
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