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How to block ads on your Internet browser in 2021

Exploring the market's top 11 ad blocker software with individual ratings and remarks after personally testing each tool.

Published: August 19, 2021 By Rakesh Naik

Title Ads shall not pass

Image source – Shutterstock

Are you tired of sitting through a 25-second un-skippable ad to watch a one-minute YouTube video? Do all websites you visit fill up your screen with annoying pop-ups and ad banners? Allow me to introduce you to the world of ad blockers that will help you get rid of these irritating online ads.

Ad blockers are tools that run on your computer or web browser and block all ads that are on any website you visit or internet-based application that you use. Most modern ad blockers have evolved to fight modern threats on websites such as user tracking, fingerprinting, and even to disable any scripts that might run on the website.

This article focuses on these ad blocker tools, most of which are free, and explores their features, pros, and cons in detail.

At the end of this article, you will definitely find an ad blocker that suits your needs perfectly and makes your life on the internet more peaceful and definitely, ad-free.

 

1. Adblock Plus

The Adblock Plus logo

Image source – adblockplus.org

One of the most popular ad blockers in the market, Adblock Plus works with almost all desktop and mobile browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. It blocks pop-ups, advertisements, and even YouTube ads almost perfectly.

The software supports whitelisting, where you can add a few websites where the ad blocker shouldn’t run on. This is especially useful for websites that restrict any ad blocker software from running.

I highly recommend this ad blocker for its versatility and for the fact that it blocks 98% of the ads, even including YouTube ads. However, it does have an ‘Acceptable Ads’ feature that allows non-intrusive ads to pass through the filter. While this is enabled by default, it can be easily disabled.

Verdict: 9/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, & Opera
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Quick and easy ad blocking
  • Works on android and iOS browsers
  • Whitelisting allows fine control of the software
  • Acceptable ads feature is enabled by default allowing few ads to pass-through
 

2. uBlock Origin

The uBlock Origin interface on the Opera web browser

Image source – addons.opera.com

Ublock Origin is a simplistic ad blocker plugin for web browsers, with more than average efficiency and a low resource overhead. This means that the plugin itself wouldn’t take up a lot of memory while running.

Most interestingly, uBlock also blocks the many pop-ups that ask you to sign up for newsletters or follow the social media handles on the websites you visit. This is a feature that doesn't create a noticeable change, but you would immediately notice if you remove it after using it for a while.

It is also an open-source software which means that you can upload custom lists and filters from host files.

Verdict: 7/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Chrome & Firefox
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Whitelist websites
  • Custom lists and filters
  • Consumes low memory
  • For mobile devices, it is only available for Firefox on Android
 

3. Ghostery

The Ghostery user-interface showing stats of blocked ads

Image source – ghostery.com

Ghostery, much like most of the other ad blockers on this list, does a fine job at blocking all ads while you are browsing the internet. It is an open-source browser plugin and also has a privacy-based browser for android and iOS devices.

The one feature that sets Ghostery apart from the rest of the ad blockers is the added layer of privacy that the software offers. Ghostery has an anti-tracking feature built-in that allows the users to view and block any websites from tracking user activity or data.

The premium version of Ghostery even comes with an ‘Enhanced Anti-Tracking' feature that allows anonymising user data providing added protection.

However, one flaw that I found with Ghostery was that it doesn't block pop-ups very well. You will see a pop-up every now and then, which can be a bit annoying.

Verdict: 8/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free with paid plans
Chrome, Firefox, Opera, & Edge
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Anti-tracking feature
  • Privacy based browser for Android and iOS
  • Open-source
  • Doesn't block pop-ups very well
 

4. AdGuard

The AdGuard dashboard showing various statistics of blocked ads

Image source – ubuntu.com

AdGuard is a standalone ad blocker application for various platforms such as Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and even web browsers. AdGuard even offers a variety of other products such as AdGuard VPN, AdGuard DNS, and AdGuard Home.

The most interesting of AdGuard products, AdGuard DNS, is a free DNS service that lets users connect to the internet through it. Users simply need to change their device’s DNS IP to an IP address provided by AdGuard to connect to their DNS servers that then block all ads while browsing the internet.

Even their product, the AdGuard Home, is quite adept at blocking ads in an entire network after installing the free open-source software.

The only drawback I found with the mobile device application is that it requires the installation of additional browsers to block ads on. If you need to block ads on Chrome, you have to manually install different AdGuard software.

Verdict: 10/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, & browsers
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Standalone application
  • Offers parental control
  • AdGuard home blocks ads on the whole network
  • Mobile device requires additional installation
 

5. AdBlock

The AdBlock options and notifications as displayed on the browser tool window

Image source – chrome.google.com

AdBlock is quite a decent ad blocker that works on almost all popular web browsers for desktop as well as Android and iOS. It blocks most ads, pop-ups, and even unauthorised cryptocurrency mining while you are browsing the internet.

By default, AdBlock uses filter lists to block ads like most other adblocking software. But AdBlock takes it a step further and allows you to subscribe to and even create custom lists to block more ads and pop-ups.

AdBlock also can whitelist websites and domains on which ads and pop-ups are allowed to run.

Again, what I dislike with the app is that it is part of the ‘Acceptable Ads’ program, meaning it allows non-intrusive ads to pass through the filter. While this isn’t a huge problem and the feature can be easily disabled, it does make using an ad blocker quite futile.

Verdict: 8/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, & Edge
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Custom lists can be subscribed to or created
  • Even blocks cryptocurrency mining
  • Acceptable ads enabled by default
 

6. Opera Browser

The Opera web browser default home page with the customisation settings open

Image source – blogs.opera.com

Opera is a web browser that has an inbuilt ad blocker that blocks all ads and pop-ups while you browse the internet using the browser. Additionally, it also has a built-in VPN that can bypass ISP restrictions and also help maintain anonymity on the internet. But you can ensure that function separately using one of tested VPNs from the list.

The browser also gives warnings for fraudulent pages and also if any malware is present in the downloads or pages that are visited.

Even after being capable of such advanced features, the browser is quite fast and efficient while browsing the internet. Opera also has a different version of browser known as ‘Opera GX’ that is referred to as the gaming browser.

This gaming browser allows the user better control over resources consumed and such. Using the Opera GX, the user can specify how much memory the browser can consume, how much processing power it can consume, and much more. It additionally also comes with Opera's ad blocker as well as a VPN.

Verdict: 10/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, & iOS
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Browser with built-in ad blocker and VPN
  • Warnings for fraudulent pages and malware
  • Only blocks ads within the browser
 

7. AdLock

The AdLock user-interface with the stats on ads and pop-ups blocked

Image source – adlock-for-windows.soft112.com

AdLock is an ad blocker software that comes as a browser plugin as well as a standalone app for desktops and mobile devices. AdLock is, however, only free for Google Chrome and Safari and requires to be purchased for other platforms and web browsers.

The standalone app even blocks ads and pop-ups on other desktop applications or any online games.

But to be honest, I am not a huge fan of the app since it is not free to use like most others on this list. I could easily use something like AdGuard home to block all ads on the entire network, and it is also free.

Furthermore, it is quite cumbersome to install on mobile devices and would require downloading the mobile app from their website and not from the official app stores.

Verdict: 6/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free on Google Chrome & Safari
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, & browsers
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Standalone application blocks ads on any sort of application
  • Offers browser plugin and standalone app
  • Only free on Chrome & Safari
  • Mobile apps require installation from the official website and not from app stores
 

8. Stands Fair ad blocker

The Stands Fair ad blocker tool window in a web browser

Image source – softpedia.com

An ad blocker solely for the Google Chrome web browser, the Stands Fair ad blocker, does exactly what the name suggests; it blocks ads and pop-ups while you browse the internet. Stands Fair ad blocker is lightweight and loads websites quite fast, even after being quite efficient at blocking ads.

The ad blocker allows quite a bit of control over what form of ads you would like to block, such as pop-up ads, video ads, and even ads on social media websites, as long as they are contained within the browser.

Stands Fair ad blocker also allows whitelisting of websites on which the ads are not to be blocked or even whitelist a certain type of ad relating to something that you like.

I would say it is a decent ad blocker with no fancy gimmicks. It just does what it claims. But there are other similar ad blockers in the market that work on a larger variety of platforms than just Google Chrome.

Verdict: 7/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Chrome
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Control what type of ads to block
  • Whitelist websites or ad types
  • Only works on Google Chrome
 

9. Brave

The Brave browser default launch window

Image source – brave.com

Yet another browser that has a built-in ad blocker, the Brave browser is a free-to-use web browser that blocks all ads and pop-ups while you browse the internet. The Brave browser ensures speed and privacy, promising almost 3 times faster speed than the Google Chrome browser.

The ad blocker, known as “Brave Shields”, and uses the URLs of websites to improve the ad blocking algorithm. The browser also blocks all tracking, fingerprinting, and scripts that might run from a website.

This also means that any scripts for unauthorised cryptocurrency mining will also be disabled by the Brave browser. Additionally, the lack of fingerprinting also ensures the anonymity of a user while browsing the internet.

Verdict: 10/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Windows, Mac, Linux, Android & iOS
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Disables fingerprinting, scripts, and all forms of tracking
  • Brave Shields tracks URLs to improve the ad blocking algorithm
  • Sync doesn’t work
  • Doesn’t have mic support
 

10. ad blocker Ultimate

The ad blocker Ultimate Poster displaying various platforms supported

Image source – chrome.google.com

Ad blocker Ultimate is one of the best ad blockers in the market and can even remove those annoying YouTube ads. While it doesn’t have some of the nifty and exciting features such as anti-tracking or blocking scripts, it gets the ad blocking part done perfectly.

The tool comes mainly as a browser plugin but also has a standalone Windows application that manages to block most ads and pop-ups from applications other than the web browser.

From my usage, it feels very similar to Adblock Plus with an extra standalone Windows application. I would suggest you give this one a try along with the Windows application if you are used to the usual Adblock Plus or AdBlock.

Verdict: 9/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Windows, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, & Edge
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Standalone app for Windows
  • Stable on mobile device browser as well
  • Disables all ads with no exceptions
  • No standalone app for Mac
  • No advanced features such as disabling tracking, fingerprinting, or scripts
 

11. Poper Blocker

The Poper Blocker option to add websites to the whitelist

Image source – alternativeto.net

Poper Blocker is a free ad blocker that works on Chrome that blocks all sorts of pop-ups, be it overlays, scroll pop-ups and more. The software also gives a notification every time it blocks such a pop-up or advertisement, allowing the user to keep track of all blocked media.

Poper Blocker, in my experience, works best when coupled with another ad blocker as it catches any ads missed by the primary blocker. It does, however, miss a few pop-up ads, and it also doesn't block any ads on videos which makes it useless on YouTube.

From my findings, I have found quite a lot of complaints online about the Poper Blocker gathering quite a lot of information from users. It even got removed from the Google Play store for collecting too much user data.

I wouldn’t recommend this ad blocker to anyone and have only added it here for educational purposes. Only use the Poper Blocker if you want to test it out temporarily or want to write a review about it.

Verdict: 3/10

$$$ PRICE
PLATFORM
Free
Chrome
+++ PROS
--- CONS
  • Blocks a wide variety of pop-up ads
  • Gathers too much user data
  • Can’t block ads on videos
  • Only available for Chrome
 

Infographics

To make your life easier, when you are looking for a new ad blocker, or just want to share our findings with others in very easy way, we have prepared infographics below.

In consists of the ad blockers rating and some important notes to each of the tool.

Infographics listing the top 11 ad blockers in the market with personal ratings, price and supported platforms

Feel free to share the code of infographics

<iframe width="574" height="2597" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="overflow-y:hidden;" src="/sites/default/files/pictures/data-protection/block-ads-on-internet-browser-2021/block-ads-on-internet-browser-2021-12.jpg"></iframe>

Conclusion

With the increase of online ads on every web page or social media platform, the demand for ad blockers has gone up exponentially over the past few years. These days, ad blockers even have features that prevent websites from tracking and fingerprinting users or gathering any data about them.

On the other hands, the world of ad blockers becomes the threat landscape for anonymous browsing on it’s own.

Regardles of choice made, we recommend to be vigilant while securely browsing the internet and always keep your VPN enabled.

If you liked this article, or if I haven't mentioned your favourite ad blocker on this list, do consider leaving a comment below to let us know.

Author
Rakesh Naik
Freelance Cyber Security Analyst and Writer practicing in Infosec Assessment.

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