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Blocking mode

Pi-hole FTLDNS currently supports the following modes for blocking queries:

  • NULL (default and recommended)
  • IP-NODATA-AAAA
  • IP
  • NXDOMAIN
  • NODATA

Each mode has their advantages and drawbacks which will be discussed in detail below.

Note: In order to configure a blocking mode, you must edit the FTLDNS configuration file (/etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf). Once you've made any changes to the blocking mode, you must restart Pi-hole with pihole restartdns.

Pi-hole's unspecified IP or NULL blocking mode

In NULL mode, which is both the default and recommended mode for Pi-hole FTLDNS, blocked queries will be answered with the "unspecified address" (0.0.0.0 or ::). The "unspecified address" is a reserved IP address specified by RFC 3513 - Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) Addressing Architecture, section 2.5.2. If no mode is explicitly defined in the configuration file, Pi-hole will default to this mode. To set this mode explicitly, set BLOCKINGMODE=NULL in /etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf.

A blocked query would look like the following:

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;doubleclick.net.               IN      ANY

;; ANSWER SECTION:
doubleclick.net.        2       IN      A       0.0.0.0
doubleclick.net.        2       IN      AAAA    ::

Advantages:

  • Clients should not even try to establish a connection for the requested website/address
  • Reduces overall traffic
  • Solves potential HTTPS timeouts, as requests are never performed
  • No need to run a web server on your Pi-hole for a block page. This should reduce complexity when running other web services on the same machine

Disadvantages:

  • Clients may not handle the unspecified address properly and attempt to connect to the address anyways

Pi-hole's IP (IPv6 NODATA) blocking mode

In IP-NODATA-AAAA mode, blocked queries will be answered with the local IPv4 addresses of your Pi-hole (see BLOCK_IP4 for additional options). Blocked AAAA queries will be answered with NODATA-IPV6 and clients will only try to reach your Pi-hole over its static IPv4 address. To set this mode explicitly, set BLOCKINGMODE=IP-NODATA-AAAA in /etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf.

Assuming your Pi-hole server is at 192.168.1.42, then a blocked query would look like the following:

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;doubleclick.net.               IN      ANY

;; ANSWER SECTION:
doubleclick.net.        2       IN      A       192.168.1.42

Advantages:

  • Serves IPv4-only replies and hence mitigates issues with rotating IPv6 prefixes

Disadvantages:

  • May cause time-outs for HTTPS content even with properly configured firewall rules

Pi-hole's full IP blocking mode

In IP mode, blocked queries will be answered with the local IP addresses of your Pi-hole (see BLOCK_IP4 and BLOCK_IP6 for additional options). To set this mode explicitly, set BLOCKINGMODE=IP in /etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf.

A blocked query would look like the following:

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;doubleclick.net.               IN      ANY

;; ANSWER SECTION:
doubleclick.net.        2       IN      A       192.168.2.11
doubleclick.net.        2       IN      AAAA    fda2:2001:4756:0:ab27:beff:ef37:4242

Advantage:

  • Handles both IPv4 and IPv6 queries with a reply

Disadvantages:

  • May cause time-outs for HTTPS content even with properly configured firewall rules
  • May cause problems with alternating prefixes on IPv6 addresses (see IP-AAAA-NODATA)

Pi-hole's NXDOMAIN blocking mode

In NXDOMAIN mode, blocked queries will be answered with an empty response (i.e., there won't be an answer section) and status NXDOMAIN. A NXDOMAIN response should indicate that there is no such domain to the client making the query. To set this mode explicitly, set BLOCKINGMODE=NXDOMAIN in /etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf.

A blocked query would look like the following:

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;doubleclick.net.               IN      ANY

Advantages & Disadvantages: This mode is similar to NULL blocking mode, but experiments suggest that clients may try to resolve blocked domains more often compared to NULL blocking.

Pi-hole's NODATA blocking mode

In NODATA mode, blocked queries will be answered with an empty response (no answer section) and status NODATA. A NODATA response indicates that the domain exists, but there is no record for the requested query type. To set this mode explicitly, set BLOCKINGMODE=NODATA in /etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf.

A blocked query would look like the following:

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;doubleclick.net.               IN      ANY

Advantages & Disadvantages: This mode is similar to NXDOMAIN blocking mode. Clients might have a better acceptance of NODATA replies compared to NXDOMAIN replies.


Last update: September 9, 2022