Internet websites have lots of helpful information. But unfortunately, many are littered with online advertising, which comes in many forms, including web banners, pictures, embedded audio and video, pop-up windows, and more. For many, these ads take away from the user experience. Not to worry, as there are lots of ad blocking tools available. There are various reasons to consider using ad blockers and also many benefits.
Reasons and benefits to using ad blockers
The No. 1 reason most would cite for using an ad blocker is to eliminate webpage disruptions. Depending on the site and the quality of the ads, the advertising can cause the accidental removal of text, page cluttering, and loading issues. Another reason for using an ad blocker is to protect your privacy. By design, most advertisers now use background tracking tools such as cookies to create ads based on your online history. This is why, for example, you might visit Amazon.com to look for a new television and soon after start seeing ads for smart TVs on Facebook and other social networking sites you visit.
Ad blockers can also help to remove malvertising, which criminals use to spread malware. It will also cut down on the downloadable content on your machines, which many describe as “web bloat.”
On the benefits side, online advertising, especially e-commerce sites, can remember who you are and adjust its pages accordingly. Have you noticed how your favorite shopping store always seems to have what you’re looking for on the home page or is running a sale on your favorite shorts? Again, you can thank online advertising.
These ads can also help you better compare products, so you’re always paying the best price — if that means visiting another site. Online advertising can also track the latest trends, news headlines, and more, so you’re a more savvy shopper or citizen.
You’re probably not here to read about the benefits of online advertising. With this in mind, here are the best ad blockers on the market today.
The first product on the list, uBlock Origin, does a terrific job at blocking malware, web promotions, trackers, and the like. Free and open-source, uBlock Origin promises to be “easy on CPU and memory” while blocking online apps. In addition, the software includes various filter lists previously identified for known advertising and malware. You can also add custom filters with relative ease. As you do, however, memory consumption will increase, which could negatively affect older systems. Regardless, it will still consume much less memory than other options.
More advanced users will want to activate uBlock Origin’s dynamic filtering tool. You can adjust the scripts and domains a webpage can load by doing so. You shouldn’t confuse uBlock Origin with uBlock. Although the same developer created both, uBlock is now owned by Adblocker Plus. They are two completely different options.
Privacy Badger, which comes from the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, blocks trackers, not necessarily ads. It does so using unique algorithms and no domain blacklists like other tools. By taking this approach, Privacy Badger attempts to separate the good and the bad without disrupting the website’s flow.
With this solution, there is some wiggle room to make changes. For example, for whatever reason, perhaps Privacy Badger is blocking your favorite website’s cookies, which are essential to customize your user experience. You can change this in just a few steps.
Overall, if privacy is your most important reason for considering a blocker, this might be the one for you.
If you’re looking for an ad blocker that’s been around for a while, you can’t do much better than Adblock Plus. Its ease of use and price (free) have made it a winner for many years. After installation, Adblock Plus immediately gets to work and begins blocking and obstructing things you probably won’t want to see. In the process, it does a great job of not negatively affecting the look and feel of a website.
Despite its pedigree, one criticism you’ll hear most about Adblock Plus is its “acceptable ads (opens in new tab)” policy. These are described as those that “aren’t intrusive or annoying. They are respectful, don’t interfere with content, and are clearly labeled with the word “advertisement” or its equivalent.” Of course, these words are highly subjective, which is probably one of the reasons decisions on what makes a committee now makes an acceptable ad. Regardless, you can now manually remove these ads in a few steps.
A minor point about Adblock Plus is its sometimes confusing way of presenting extra features that can also be beneficial. This confusion is primarily because of its design. My advice: take the time to look at the Adblock Plus instructions; you might be surprised by what you discover.
Ghostery features a terrific design and lots of customization options. Better still, it provides a much higher level of insight about what’s being blocked and how you’re being tracked online. With the free version of Ghostery, you get a tracker and ad blocking, and custom blocking preferences. For as little as $3.99 per month, you can get Ghostery Plus, which ads extension themes, historical stats, and more.
The biggest drawback of Ghostery is there’s no way to add customizable filters. In other words, you get what you get.
One of the newest solutions on this list, AdLock, does a terrific job at zeroing in and eliminating malware, phishing sites, and more through various browsers. For the full benefit of AdLock, it’s best to buy a yearly subscription. However, its Chrome extension is free.
AdLock is very good at protecting your online privacy, and it’s a lightweight solution, which is vital for many. Though relatively new, AdLock is already one of the best ad blockers and worth your consideration.
On the negative side, AdLock support could be better, and hopefully, in time, it will be.
I’ve included Poper Blocker on this list, even though it’s a secondary tool. With Poper Blocker, whatever pop-ups another adblocker might have missed will get squashed forever. Only available for Chromium-based browsers, the solution also goes after pop-users, overlays, and other nuisances. When a pop-up is removed, you’ll get a notification, which comes in hand when something you do want to see is flagged.
Because of its limited use, you should find an ad-blocker that best suits your needs and add Poper Blocker. You’ll be happy you did. Although Poper Blocker is free, you’ll need to pay for a membership to access every feature.
You might also be interested in Google pushes back deadline for killing off tracking cookies in Chrome and our list of the best privacy tools and anonymous browsers.