Ad Blockers - How To Protect Yourself Against Annoying Ads
What would a world without ads look like? Most people would probably answer "better". Tools that hide annoying ads online are more popular than ever.
Just imagine a TV that automatically skips commercials or a radio station that only plays music. On the Internet, ad blockers fulfill this function, with browser extensions serving as digital bodyguards keeping marketing materials away from you.
Why Use an Ad Blocker?
Most people install an ad blocker because they're convenient and keep annoying ads away. The advantages of an ad-free Internet surfing experience are obvious. However, ad blockers can also enhance your online security in a number of ways.
Ad blockers are beneficial because they:
Protect against "malvertising" that smuggles harmful software onto your computer through ads
Make websites easier and faster to navigate as distractions are removed
Conserve your mobile data
Protect your personal information – i.e. through the reduction of HTTP cookies or the prevention of web tracking (if only limited)
Prevent websites you don't want to support from profiting off of your visit
Are There Any Arguments Against Using Ad Blockers?
The above gives the impression that ad blockers are essential for ensuring a pleasant surfing experience. However, there are critics who warn against this, for both practical and ethical reasons. As they argue, ad blockers could impair or even help destroy your favorite websites.
Ad blockers are problematic because they:
Deprive websites of valuable income streams and hurt them financially
Don't provide sufficient data protection and can track and sell your data (i.e. relating to your browsing habits)
Can limit a website's functionality and block content as well as ads
Are sometimes financed by ads and may let "unobtrusive" ads through
Conclusion: As a consumer, there are many reasons to use an ad blocker, however, you should remain wary of the implications and potential risks of doing so.
A number of websites, especially those which provide news, require visitors to turn off their ad blockers before granting them access to content. Users can make a one-time exception for websites or permanently whitelist them as permitted domains.
However, not every ad blocker is the same, and a wide range of options are available to find the one that best suits your needs.
Which Ad Blocker Is the Best For Me?
You're only ever a few clicks away from an ad blocker. Nearly all are free and compatible with the most common browsers, however, some differences do exist between the individual apps. Below, we've provided a selection of our five favorites:
More than 60 million people use AdBlock. Thanks to its different filters, the browser extension blocks both static as well as video ads, also making it easy to add exceptions if needed. Initially developed for Google Chrome, AdBlock is now available for Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera.
Don't let the name fool you, AdBlock Plus has nothing to do with AdBlock and is actually the product of an entirely different team of developers. AdBlock Plus comes with a nice selection of adjustable filters and is open source, making it freely customizable.
Like AdBlock Plus, uBlock Origin is also open-source, allowing users to freely configure its ad filters. Removing sites from the blacklist requires nothing more than a single click. The app is known in particular for its nimbleness.
Ghostery isn't an ad blocker in the typical sense, but more of a data protection tool with ad-blocking capabilities. The app blocks web trackers and analytical tools that collect your user data, and through further settings, ads as well.
Like Ghostery, Privacy Bagder is more geared towards data protection and privacy than ad blocking. The app doesn't rely entirely on filter lists like regular ad blockers do, instead, constantly learning more about your behavior. As a result, it is capable of effectively blocking trackers and ads that spy on your data.
Mobile Ad Blockers
There are a number of ad-blocking solutions for mobile devices as well, including Firefox Focus, AdLock, 1Blocker, and Brave Browser.
How Do I Install an Ad Blocker?
Most ad blockers are installed similarly to browser extensions, which is very easy. Below, we'll show you how to install uBlock Origin:
To see which browsers are compatible with the extension, check uBlock Origin's official website.
To start, click on "Add uBlock" to be redirected to your browser's web store.
After clicking on "Add to Chrome", you'll be asked whether you want to add the extension to your browser. Once confirmed, uBlock will be added to your browser, and you'll be protected against annoying ads while surfing. If you want to add a website as an exception, simply click on the large blue power symbol button.
In the extension's dashboard, you can manage your whitelist, adjust or customize your blocking filters, and more.
Without a doubt: Ad blockers make surfing the web more enjoyable and free from the frustration of closing ads when you're trying to do something. A wide selection of applications are available and we recommend going with the one that suits your priorities best, whether you're after greater speed, higher usability, enhanced data protection and privacy, or something else.
At the same time, it's a good idea to remove websites that you enjoy and wish to patronize and support from your blacklist.