6 Free Website Blockers for Studying & Improving Focus

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The “perfect” website blocker.

Do you ever feel distracted by addicting websites when trying to do work? You’re not alone. In fact, many people use a website blocker to block out online distractions.

The good news is, you have lots of website blockers to choose from. The bad news? Not all of them will have 100% of the features you might want. Some, however, will come closer than others.

With this in mind, let’s dive into the pros and cons of the top 6 free website blockers available on the Internet.

Cold Turkey Blocker

Okay… We might be a little biased here 😉

A screenshot of the Cold Turkey Blocker website blocker.
A screenshot of Cold Turkey Blocker.

Cold Turkey Blocker is an easy to use, cross-browser, website blocker that works on both Windows and macOS. The free version lets you add multiple block lists and then start them using a timer. By default, when you start a timer, you can’t go back and change your mind. It can also keep track of time spent on websites and applications so that you can see what your top time-wasters are.

Pros

  • Above all other features, you can lock a block to make it impossible to circumvent. Disabling the required extensions will also close the browser until you re-enable them. You won’t even be able to uninstall the software during a block!
  • Secondly, you can add multiple block lists, which you can use alongside 3 predefined lists: Distractions, Adult Sites and Proxy Sites.
  • When you start a block, it’ll automatically apply to all supported browsers: Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Brave and Vivaldi.
  • Finally, a statistics feature provides insights on what your biggest time-wasters are, including applications and games.

Cons

  • You can’t use it on your iOS device. It also only has a very basic Android version that blocks everything on your phone.
  • You’ll need to go pro, with a one-time purchase, to block applications and use the more advanced features.
  • The Windows version doesn’t support Internet Explorer and Edge. So you won’t be able to use them during a locked block.

StayFocusd

Screenshot of StayFocusd.
A screenshot of StayFocusd.

Although not the most popular website blocker extension, it packs a punch in terms of features. StayFocusd lets you invoke the “nuclear option” which temporarily, but completely, blocks the internet except the websites you give an exception for. Another unique feature is the ability to allow yourself to visit blocked sites in an emergency by typing out a long-winded paragraph.

Pros

  • To begin with, you can schedule blocks, add a daily time limit and use wild-cards for free.
  • You can also block the chrome://extension page, to make it harder to circumvent a block within Chrome.
  • Lastly, it includes an emergency feature that lets you type out a long paragraph to get around a block.

Cons

  • You can only use it on Chrome, which means getting around the block is as easy as using another browser.
  • You won’t find a mobile version of the extension unfortunately.
  • Statistics aren’t provided to show how much time you spent on websites.

Block Site

Screenshot of Block Site.
A screenshot of Block Site.

Block Site is available on Android and as extensions to Chrome and Firefox for desktops. It lets you block websites using a schedule or a “work timer.” A unique feature not seen in any other website blocker is the ability to block adult websites with the flick of a switch. Unfortunately, it’s still a little too easy to circumvent since it’s still mostly a browser extension.

Pros

  • You can schedule blocks, add a password, white-list or block certain things, all for free.
  • Also, you can block all adult sites with the flick of a switch, a unique feature to most website blockers.

Cons

  • You can only use it on Chrome and Firefox for desktops. So getting around the block is as easy as using another browser.
  • At this time, you can’t block the chrome://extensions page, which makes it even easier to circumvent when you want.
  • Statistics aren’t provided to show how much time you spent on websites.

SelfControl

Screenshot of SelfControl.
A screenshot of SelfControl.

This website blocker is only officially available for macOS, but the charm is all in it’s simplicity and minimalist design. Rather than use extensions, SelfControl blocks websites using the hosts file. In effect, this means that the block is system-wide and affects all applications on the computer.

Pros

  • A very simple and minimalist design makes it easy to use.
  • A system-level block ensures that the block will work with all browsers. Unless, you use something like TOR.

Cons

  • Generally, you’ll only find it available for macOS, nothing else.
  • You’ll be able to get around the block by changing the time or restarting your computer.
  • You won’t find any advanced functionality like statistics, wild-cards, scheduling and passwords.

FocalFilter

Screenshot of FocalFilter
A screenshot of FocalFilter.

FocalFilter is what would happen if someone were to make SelfControl for Windows. Similarly, this website blocker has a simple and minimalist interface that makes it easy to “get your block on.” FocalFilter also uses the hosts file for blocking websites. In effect, this means that the block is system-wide and affects all applications on the computer.

Pros

  • A very simple and minimalist design makes it very easy to use.
  • A system-level block ensures that the block will work with all browsers. Unless, you use something like TOR.

Cons

  • At this point, you can only use it on Windows, nothing else.
  • You might run into some issues blocking some sites on Windows 8 and Windows 10. You may also need to add a few exceptions to your anti-virus software.
  • You’ll also be able to get around the block by editing the hosts file or changing the system time.
  • Lastly, you won’t find any advanced functionality like statistics, white-listing, wild-cards, scheduling and passwords.

LeechBlock NG

Screenshot of LeechBlock NG.
A screenshot of LeechBlock NG.

Good news Firefox users, this website blocker is for you! LeechBlock NG is a Firefox add-on and Chrome extension that works similarly to StayFocusd. Although packed full of features, the interface can be a little intimidating. They literally stuffed with all of the goodies you could possibly dream of.

Pros

  • Surprisingly, the free version lets you use multiple block lists, scheduling, daily time limits and wild-cards using regular expressions (RegEx).
  • Equally important, can also block the about:addons page to make it harder to circumvent a block within Firefox.
  • Lastly, you can add an override to a block where it forces you to type a long code to access a blocked site temporarily.

Cons

  • At this time, you can only use it on Chrome and Firefox for desktops. So getting around the block is as easy as using another browser.
  • Statistics aren’t provided to show how much time you spent on websites.

Conclusion

Although lots of free browser extensions can do a good job of keeping you on task, most of them make it too easy to get around the block. If you’re looking for a free website blocker that makes it nearly impossible for you to circumvent, look no further than Cold Turkey Blocker.