DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: What Are the Differences?


In a security-conscious world, it is often necessary to block access to certain websites or categories of websites. This can be achieved using several methods, including through DNS filtering or using the best URL filtering software. (opens in a new tab).

In this article, we take a closer look at DNS filtering versus URL filtering, and how they can be used by schools, workplaces, and other organizations. Each method of restricting Internet access has its pros and cons, but they both perform the same essential function. Let’s see how they compare to each other.

DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: Features

At the most basic level, URL filtering blocks access to specific websites based on predetermined URL restrictions. On the other hand, DNS filtering restricts access based on IP addresses, making it a more powerful but less flexible option. Both techniques share several characteristics that make them useful to businesses and other organizations.

Access restriction

One of the main characteristics of DNS and URL filtering is their ability to restrict access to certain parts of the Internet. In a school setting, for example, you can restrict violent or pornographic content. In the workplace, you can restrict access to social media websites to increase employee productivity.

Flexibility of restrictions

One of the main differences between URL filtering and DNS filtering is their flexibility. Since URL filtering can be applied at the page level, it allows you to block access to certain parts of a website while leaving the rest of the site open. On the other hand, DNS filtering is limited to the website level, so you can only use it to block entire sites.

AI-based filtering

Advanced AI and machine learning power many DNS and URL filtering programs. This saves you from having to manually list websites. Your program will automatically detect restricted content based on a number of filtering rules imposed by you and your administration team.

Minimize bandwidth usage

With DNS and URL filtering programs, you can restrict access to websites and applications that consume large amounts of bandwidth. Blocking popular gaming and video streaming sites will reduce the amount of bandwidth your business uses, potentially saving you money on your broadband bill.

DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: Performance

DNS filtering and URL filtering are effective in restricting access to specific parts of the Internet. However, due to the way each method works, they are useful for different scenarios.

For example, DNS filtering works particularly well when used to block an entire domain. Indeed, it restricts access based on an IP address. What this does mean, however, is that you cannot use DNS filtering to restrict access to specific parts of a website.

URL filtering is more flexible. It allows you to block access to an entire domain, but it can also be used at a much finer level. For example, maybe a particular website has a few pages that you don’t want your employees to see. By limiting access to specific URLs, you can leave the rest of the site free to use as needed.

The effectiveness of DNS and URL filtering programs in preventing people from circumventing them will largely depend on the program you use. Some free programs are easy to circumvent with a VPN or proxy, but more advanced solutions have built-in safeguards to prevent this from happening. Platforms like DNS filter (opens in a new tab) and FortiGuard (opens in a new tab) are powerful examples.

Read What is the difference between a VPN and a proxy? (opens in a new tab)

DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: Support

The level of support you get with your DNS or URL filtering solution will depend on the software or program you choose. Different platforms offer different levels of support, and this is something to keep in mind if you think you need technical support.

For example, DNSFilter, one of our favorite access blocking programs, offers DNS and URL web content filtering. It also includes phone and email support, and there’s a comprehensive knowledge base with tutorials and other self-help resources.

Another popular option, FortiGuard, offers DNS and URL filtering, but its customer service is much poorer than DNSFilter. It also offers a selection of self-help resources, but the only way to access technical support is to fill out an online contact form.

DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: Pricing and Plans

The amount you pay for DNS or URL filtering software can range from free forever to tens or even hundreds of dollars per month. There are a few free versions on the market, but these tend to be low quality, and we don’t recommend you risk using them.

Instead, it’s worth paying a few dollars a month for a premium plan. For example, our main URL and DNS filtering option, DNSFilter, starts at just $0.90 per user per month for basic content filtering, malware detection, and user-based content restriction. Real-time AI.

Even this basic version offers more than enough power for small businesses looking for an Internet access restriction solution. However, there are even more advanced options for larger organizations that require more power.

DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: Verdict

URL filtering and DNS filtering use similar techniques to restrict access to specified websites. The main difference is in their flexibility, with DNS filtering limited to blocking entire websites. URL filtering, on the other hand, can be used in a much more granular way, blocking individual pages or compromised links.

Both are available in free and premium versions, and there are plenty of reliable solutions out there. Many leading solutions offer both DNS and URL filtering.

If you don’t already have some form of access restriction software, we suggest installing some to increase workplace productivity and prevent employees from accessing inappropriate content.

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