Ad Blockers - How to Protect Yourself From Annoying Ads

A world without any ads – what would that look like? "Better," a lot of people might think. Tools that hide annoying ads for us are more popular than ever.

Just imagine a TV that automatically skips ads or a letterbox that makes advertising leaflet disappear. On the internet, ad blockers do exactly that: The browser extension prevents ads from even reaching consumer like you in the first place.

Why Use an Ad Blocker?

Most people install an ad blocker because they're convenient: Ads are simply annoying. The advantages of an ad-free surfing experience are obvious. But ad blocker can be beneficial to your online security in many other ways.

Ad blockers are beneficial because they

protect you from "malvertising" that smuggles harmful software onto your computer through ads

make websites easier to navigate and faster as distracting information is removed

save data which can be an advantage especially for mobile surfing

protect your data – 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 Reasons Against Ad Blockers?

All that sounds as if ad blockers are essential for a pleasant surfing experience. But there are critics out there who warn against viewing the ad killers as almighty saviors. There are problems of both a practical nature and an ethical one – using an ad blocker might be responsible for your favorite website's demise.

Ad blockers are problematic because they

rob website of valuable income streams and hurt them financially

don't provide sufficient data protection and can track and sell your data (i.e. through your browsing habits)

can limit a website's functionality and block more than just 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. But you should be aware of the implications and potential risks.

Websites retaliate

Many websites, especially news website, require visitors to turn off their ad blocker before showing them their content. Users can make a one-time exception for websites or permanently whitelist them as permitted domains.

But not every ad blocker is the same. You can choose whatever software suits your needs best from a wide range of applications

Which Ad Blocker Is the Best for Me?

You're always only a few clicks away from an ad blocker. Most of them are free and compatible with most common browsers, but there are some differences between the individual apps. Here are our favorites:

1.

AdBlock

More than 60 million people use AdBlock. The browser extension blocks online and video ads with its different filters, and adding exceptions is very simple. Initially developed for Google Chrome, AdBlock is now available for Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera.

2.

AdBlock Plus

The name might sound similar, but AdBlock Plus has nothing to do with AdBlock and comes from a completely different developer team. AdBlock comes with numerous adjustable filters and is open source, making it freely customizable.

3.

uBlock Origin

uBlock Origins is open source as well and lets you freely configure its anti-ad filters. Individual sites can easily be removed from the blacklist with a single click. The app is also known for its quickness.

4.

Ghostery

Ghostery isn't an ad blocker in the typical sense, but more of a data protection tool with AdBlock capabilities. The app blocks web trackers and analytical tools that collect your user data, and comes with additional settings that let you block ads.

5.

Privacy Badger

Like Ghostery, Privacy Bagder attaches great importance to data protection and privacy. The app doesn't solely rely on filter lists like regular ad blockers do. Instead, it constantly learns more about your behavior and effectively blocks trackers and ads that spy on your data.

6.

Mobile Ad Blockers

There are many mobile solutions out there as well: For example, Firefox Focus, AdLock, 1Blocker, and Brave Browser provide a great ad-free mobile browsing experience.

How Do I Install an Ad Blocker?

Most ad blocker are installed like a regular browser extension, which is super easy. We'll show you how to do it using uBlock Origin as an example:

The official uBlock Origin website already tells you which browsers the extension supports.

Click on "Add uBlock" to be redirected to your browser's web store.

uBlock has now been added to your browser, and you're protected from annoying ads while surfing. If you want to add a website as an exception, you only have to click on the big blue button.

The extension's dashboard provides you with a lot of options like managing your whitelist, adjusting and individualizing your blocking filters and more.

No doubt: Ad blockers make surfing a lot more pleasant and can save you from a lot of frustration. You can choose from a wide range of applications and go for the one ad blocker that suits your priorities best – be it speed, usability, data protection and privacy or many others.

However, you should consider taking the websites you enjoy and appreciate off your blacklist. That way you'll surf mostly ad-free, while still supporting your favorite websites.

Other languages:
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Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
English Translator & Editor: Brendan Philipp