How to monitor websites visited on a home network

OpenDNS can help control access to objectionable websites.

networkhub

A reader asks: 

How do I use a router to monitor which websites are visited? I want to see what URLs are visited through my router. Is there a way to view who is going to which sites on my home network without checking on their laptops?

To start, set up an OpenDNS account and change your router settings to add the OpenDNS server. With OpenDNS, you can easily monitor activity, block content, and set up extra measures to fend off identity theft—all with their free Family Shield and Home options. This is a solid solution if you don’t really need to break visits down by device—it’s a little harder to monitor which laptop is visiting which site than it is to see all traffic over the router.

If you simply want to restrict visits to websites that you consider objectionable and not monitor the activity of each individual on your network, you can also do this via OpenDNS. They have both free and paid services, but free should do the trick if you just want to block a certain type of website, or if there are particular websites you want to block. You can also use OpenDNS to log each URL visited, but the last time I used OpenDNS I couldn’t  see which device on my network was visiting the site. If you want to try it, just get OpenDNS and enable “stats and logs,” which should at least show you what sites are being visited.

For more on OpenDNS:

This tip was originally published on IDG Answers, a reader-powered help desk for answering tech questions. 

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