I was planning to setup a Raspberry Pi to use my hosts file to filter out and block ads, but while digging around on the web found a project that had already done that along with added a web admin panel and statistics too. Pi-hole is a quick and easy to install ab-blocking solution for the whole network.
Their site has a well laid out guide and their support is fast should you run into any issues. For the most part though it’s 1) get a Pi with Raspbian Lite 2) run
curl -L https://install.pi-hole.net | bash on the Pi then 3) make a couple changes on router DNS server and restart systems to receive updated settings. Once up and running all devices connecting to your network will enjoy ad-blocking even if ad-block software is not or can’t be installed on them.
Mine has been running for number of months now without any issues and receives regular updates of ad sites to block. A quick look at the admin panel shows the current day’s statistics.
A common issue I’ve run into on public access Wi-Fi is web content filtering. While it is great places offer guest Wi-Fi, I don’t care for being restricted to what I can or cannot look at while connected. So in that case an easy solution is to change the DNS server your device is resolving to and bypass any DNS filters and blocks the guest Wi-Fi service may have. Other options include remote access of another computer else where (like your home computer if doing sensitive transactions), or a VPN connection.
As DNS settings are generally easy to edit and Google has an easy to remember DNS servers I use them regularly. These can be set on your devices or even in your router. For the purpose of this article I have included steps for Android and Windows 7.
Google Public DNS IP addresses (IPv4):
Google Public DNS IP addresses (IPv6):
Setting the DNS on an Android device is fairly straight forward; just go to Wi-Fi settings, tap and hold on the network after connecting then select Modify Network. On the screen that appears check the box to display advanced settings and change IP settings to Static. Once on the IP settings screen just replace the DNS servers with the Google ones (Conveniently on Android when you erase the DNS servers, Google’s pre-populate).
On Windows it is a few more clicks but still easily set. Just go to the Control Panel and select Network Sharing Center. Then click the option Change Adapter Settings. Right-Click adapter to change (wireless) and select the properties option. Double click on the IPv4 then enter Google’s DNS server settings.