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Update Pi-hole's lists from remote sources

When using remote lists like this or this it's a hassle to manually check for changes and update - this script will do that for you!

User-created entries will not be touched and those removed from the remote list will be disabled instead.

If you're not using remote lists like the ones mentioned above then this script will be useless to you - Pi-hole already updates the lists weekly automatically.


  • Pi-hole v5+ installed (fresh install preferred)
  • php-cli >=7.0 and a few extensions (sudo apt-get install php-cli php-sqlite3 php-intl php-curl)
  • systemd is optional but recommended


Docker users - look below.

This command will install this script to /usr/local/sbin:

wget -O - | sudo bash

Alternatively you can clone this repo and sudo bash

If systemd is available this script will also add service and timer unit files to the system, otherwise a crontab entry in /etc/cron.d/pihole-updatelists will be created.

If for some reasons the install script does not copy service and timer files while your distro has systemd scheduler available you can force the installation by passing systemd as a parameter to the install script - modifying the install command above with sudo bash /dev/stdin systemd instead.

Note that in most cases you will be able to execute this script globally as pihole-updatelists command but some will require you to add /usr/local/sbin to $PATH or execute it via /usr/local/sbin/pihole-updatelists.

This script does nothing by default (except running pihole updateGravity), you have to configure it.

You can quickly update the script with sudo pihole-updatelists --update which checks for script difference and re-runs the install script when needed.

Disable default gravity update schedule

If you don't plan on updating adlists or want to keep Pi-hole's gravity update schedule you should skip this section and set UPDATE_GRAVITY=false in the configuration file.

You should disable entry with pihole updateGravity command in /etc/cron.d/pihole as this script already runs it:

sudo nano /etc/cron.d/pihole

Put a # before this line (numbers might be different):

#49 4   * * 7   root    PATH="$PATH:/usr/local/bin/" pihole updateGravity >/var/log/pihole_updateGravity.log || cat /var/log/pihole_updateGravity.log

Alternatively, the following sed command will disable the same entry:

sudo sed -e '/pihole updateGravity/ s/^#*/#/' -i /etc/cron.d/pihole

You might have to do this after each Pi-hole update.

Migrating lists and domains

If you already imported any of the remote lists manually you should migrate their entries to allow the script to disable them in case they are removed from the remote list.

If you used pihole5-list-tool to import adlists and whitelist you can use these commands to do this quickly:

sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "UPDATE adlist SET comment = 'Managed by pihole-updatelists' WHERE comment LIKE '%Firebog |%' OR comment LIKE '%[ph5lt]'"
sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "UPDATE domainlist SET comment = 'Managed by pihole-updatelists' WHERE comment LIKE '%AndeepND |%' OR comment LIKE '%[ph5lt]'"

(code up to date as of pihole5-list-tool 0.6.0)

Alternatively, some manual work is required - pick one:

  • Manually modify comment field of all imported domains/adlists to match the one this script uses (see COMMENT variable in Configuration section) (recommended but might be a lot of work)
  • Manually delete all imported domains/adlists from the web interface (might be a lot of work)
  • Wipe all adlists and domains (not recommended but fast - use this if you want to start fresh)
    • backup your lists and custom entries (write them down somewhere, do not use the Teleporter)
    • run the following commands:
      sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "DELETE FROM adlist"
      sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "DELETE FROM adlist_by_group"
      sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "DELETE FROM domainlist"
      sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "DELETE FROM domainlist_by_group"
    • keep reading and configure the script then run sudo pihole-updatelists to finish up
    • (only when UPDATE_GRAVITY=false) run pihole updateGravity

Install with Docker

Follow the official instructions and add a volume for /etc/pihole-updatelists/ directory.

If you need to pull a specific version of Pi-hole image you have no other choice but to use custom Dockerfile.

Please note that if you're setting this up for the first time (gravity.db is missing) you will have to restart the container after initial launch is complete, otherwise you will have to wait for the scheduled run to fetch the lists. You could also execute /usr/bin/php /usr/local/sbin/pihole-updatelists --config=/etc/pihole-updatelists/pihole-updatelists.conf in the container instead if you prefer to not restart the container.

Using custom image

Use jacklul/pihole:latest image instead of pihole/pihole:latest.

Using official image

If you don't want to use my image you can write custom Dockerfile:

FROM pihole/pihole:latest

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -Vy wget php-cli php-sqlite3 php-intl php-curl

RUN wget -O - | bash /dev/stdin docker

Then build your image locally and use that image in your docker-composer.yml or launch command line. You will have to update your local image manually each time update is released.

Container Configuration

Your docker-compose.yml file should look similar to this:

version: "3"

    container_name: pihole
    image: jacklul/pihole:latest
      - "53:53/tcp"
      - "53:53/udp"
      - "67:67/udp"
      - "80:80/tcp"
      TZ: 'America/Chicago'
      - './etc-pihole/:/etc/pihole/'
      - './etc-dnsmasq.d/:/etc/dnsmasq.d/'
      - './etc-pihole-updatelists/:/etc/pihole-updatelists/'
      - NET_ADMIN
    restart: unless-stopped

(for more up to date docker-compose.yml see pi-hole/docker-pi-hole)

If you already have existing gravity.db you should also check out Migrating lists and domains section, keep in mind that you will have to adjust paths in the commands mentioned there.


Default configuration file is /etc/pihole-updatelists.conf.

sudo nano /etc/pihole-updatelists.conf

Available variables

Variable Default Description
ADLISTS_URL " " Remote list URL containing list of adlists to import
URLs to single adlists are supported but it might be better if you add them manually
WHITELIST_URL " " Remote list URL containing exact domains to whitelist
REGEX_WHITELIST_URL " " Remote list URL containing regex rules for whitelisting
BLACKLIST_URL " " Remote list URL containing exact domains to blacklist
This is specifically for handcrafted lists only, do not use regular blocklists here!
REGEX_BLACKLIST_URL " " Remote list URL containing regex rules for blacklisting
COMMENT "Managed by pihole-updatelists" Comment string used to know which entries were created by the script
You can still add your own comments to individual entries as long you keep this string intact
GROUP_ID 0 Assign additional group to all inserted entries, to assign only the specified group (do not add to the default) make the number negative
0 is the default group, you can view ID of the group in Pi-hole's web interface by hovering mouse cursor over group name field on the 'Group management' page
Multiple groups are not supported
PERSISTENT_GROUP true Makes sure entries have the specified group assigned on each script run
This does not prevent you from assigning more groups through the web interface but can remove entries from the default group if GROUP_ID is a negative number
When disabled but an entry has no groups assigned and is about to be enabled then it will be re-added to the groups it's supposed to be in
WARNING: This option might be buggy when running multiple different configurations with same lists
REQUIRE_COMMENT true Prevent touching entries not created by this script by comparing comment field
When false any user-created entry will be disabled, only those created by the script will be active
UPDATE_GRAVITY true Update gravity after lists are updated? (runs pihole updateGravity)
When false invokes lists reload instead
Set to null to do nothing
VERBOSE false Show more information while the script is running
DEBUG false Show debug messages for troubleshooting purposes
If you're having issues - this might help tracking it down
DOWNLOAD_TIMEOUT 60 Maximum time in seconds one list download can take before giving up
You should increase this when downloads fail because of timeout
IGNORE_DOWNLOAD_FAILURE false Ignore download failures when using multiple lists
This will cause entries from the lists that failed to download to be disabled
GRAVITY_DB "/etc/pihole/gravity.db" Path to gravity.db in case you need to change it
LOCK_FILE "/var/lock/pihole-updatelists.lock" Process lockfile to prevent multiple instances of the script from running
You shouldn't change it - unless /var/lock is unavailable
LOG_FILE " " Log console output to file
In most cases you don't have to set this as you can view full log in the system journal
Put - before path to overwrite file instead of appending to it
GIT_BRANCH "master" Branch to pull remote checksum and update from

String values should be put between " ", otherwise weird things might happen.

You can also give paths to the local files instead of URLs, for example setting WHITELIST_URL to /home/pi/whitelist.txt will fetch this file from filesystem.

Multiple configurations

You can specify alternative config file by passing the path to the script through config parameter: pihole-updatelists --config=/home/pi/pihole-updatelists2.conf - this combined with different COMMENT string can allow multiple script configurations for the same Pi-hole instance.

A more advanced way is to use sections in the configuration file:

(bottom of the file)

COMMENT="pihole-updatelists - whitelist1"

COMMENT="pihole-updatelists - whitelist2"

Configurations where one of the lists contains entries from the other are not officially supported but may work:

; When one of the lists contains entries from the other
; it's best to have it defined after the other one

; Group with ID=1 will use 'tick' list of adlists
COMMENT="pihole-updatelists - firebog (tick)"

; Group with ID=2 will use 'nocross' list of adlists
COMMENT="pihole-updatelists - firebog (nocross)"

You will want to have a different COMMENT value in each section, they have to be unique and one must not match the other!

Main configuration (the one without section header) is processed first, then the sections in the order of their appearance.

IMPORTANT: You can only use selected variables in sections:


Multiple list URLs

You can pass multiple URLs to the list variables by separating them with whitespace (space or new line):


If one of the lists fails to download nothing will be affected for that list type.

Recommended lists

List URL/Variable value Description
(ADLISTS_URL) - safe lists only
(WHITELIST_URL) - commonly whitelisted
Regex blacklist
(REGEX_BLACKLIST_URL) - basic regex rules

Please note that mmotti/pihole-regex list can sometimes block domains that should not be blocked - any false positives should be reported to the repository to be included in the whitelist (in that case you might consider adding that list to the WHITELIST_URL too).

Extra information

Runtime options

These can be used when executing pihole-updatelists.

Option Description
--help, -h Show help message, which is simply this list
--no-gravity, -n Force gravity update to be skipped
--no-reload, -b Force lists reload to be skipped
Only if gravity update is disabled either by configuration (UPDATE_GRAVITY=false) or --no-gravity parameter
--verbose, -v Turn on verbose mode
--debug, -d Turn on debug mode
--config=<file> Load alternative configuration file
--git-branch=<branch> Select git branch to pull remote checksum and update from
Can only be used with --update and --version
--update Update the script using selected git branch
--rollback Rollback script version to previous
--force Force update without checking for newest version
--yes, -y Automatically reply YES to all questions
--version Show script checksum (and also if update is available)

Changing the schedule

By default, the script runs at random time (between 03:00 and 04:00) on Saturday, to change it you'll have to override timer unit file:

sudo systemctl edit pihole-updatelists.timer
OnCalendar=Sat *-*-* 00:00:00

If systemd is not available you just modify the crontab entry in /etc/cron.d/pihole-updatelists:

14 6 * * 6   root   /usr/local/sbin/pihole-updatelists

Running custom commands before/after scheduled run

Override service unit file:

sudo systemctl edit pihole-updatelists.service
ExecStartPre=echo "before"
ExecStartPost=echo "after"

If systemd is not available you just modify the crontab entry in /etc/cron.d/pihole-updatelists:

30 3 * * 6   root   /home/pi/ && /usr/local/sbin/pihole-updatelists && /home/pi/

You can use ; instead of && if you don't want the execution to stop on previous command failure.

Changing comment value after running the script

sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "UPDATE adlist SET comment = 'NEWCOMMENT' WHERE comment LIKE '%Managed by pihole-updatelists%'"
sudo sqlite3 /etc/pihole/gravity.db "UPDATE domainlist SET comment = 'NEWCOMMENT' WHERE comment LIKE '%Managed by pihole-updatelists%'"

Replace NEWCOMMENT with your new desired comment value. This assumes Managed by pihole-updatelists is the old comment value, replace it with your old custom value when needed.

Custom comments for entries

If you wish to add custom comments to entries you can use the following file syntax: # your comment

Which will cause to have comment set to your comment | Managed by pihole-updatelists.

You can also add your comments directly through the Pi-hole's web interface by either appending or prepending the comment field for entries.


wget -O - | sudo bash /dev/stdin uninstall

or remove files manually:

sudo rm -vf /usr/local/sbin/pihole-updatelists /etc/bash_completion.d/pihole-updatelists /etc/systemd/system/pihole-updatelists.service /etc/systemd/system/pihole-updatelists.timer /etc/cron.d/pihole-updatelists


MIT License.