How to block ads, using AdBlock, uBlock Origin, Pi-Hole, and more

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Some websites go way too far with advertisements, bad practices are all over the internet, which includes ads in inappropriate places to mislead users into clicking them, sacrificing the layout, user experience, or just showing way too many of them, being ruthless with users using limited data plans.

A lot of tools and solutions were raised to solve this problem, which can not only be bad for your bandwidth, but also your privacy, so having a way to get rid of them is always handy.

We will take a look at AdBlocker, uBlock Origin, and Pi-Hole, which one you should use and for what situations, all these tools can be used for free and the setup isn't hard at all.

Blocking ads with browser extensions

The easiest way to start blocking advertisements is with a browser extension, the widely used ones are AdBlock and uBlock Origin, they will block ads as you browse, including annoying pop-ups and trackers. These extensions will work for the browser where you install them, they won't block ads on other apps or devices on the same network, although this is possible and will be explained in this article.

AdBlock Plus

  • Over 10 million users on the Chrome web store
  • Will not block friendly ads unless you want
  • Available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Android, and iOS
  • Open-source, code available at https://gitlab.com/eyeo/adblockplus

UBlock Origin

  • Over 10 million users on the Chrome web store
  • Claims to use a low amount of memory and CPU
  • Open-source, the code can be reviewed by anyone, no surprises hidden, with code available at https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock

As you can see, both are similar extensions, which attempt to solve the same problem, although there can be differences, the goal is the same and they both do it well.

But there is a catch, do not mistake UBlock Origin with UBlock, and AdBlock Plus with AdBlock, UBlock Origin and AdBlock Plus are the versions we recommend using, both open-source and widely used. UBlock Origin and UBlock are unrelated: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/uBlock-Origin-is-completely-unrelated-to-the-web-site-ublock.org. It is easy to mistakenly access the different website you're looking for due to how similar the name is, but now you're warned! An AdBlocking extension is not something trivial, and you don't want to download the wrong one.

UBlock Origin download links

Github: The Github for Ublock Origin has all the official download links for it: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock, just scroll down the page and check the images for each device

AdBlock Plus download links

Those can be found at https://adblockplus.org/, where it will show you the appropriate download for your device.

AdBlock Plus or UBlock Origin, what is the best blocker?

As stated, both do a great job and you can use the one you prefer, a great specific feature of UBlock Origin was how you could add Nano Defender to it, an anti-AdBlock defuser used to stop websites from attempting to make your ad-blocking tool no longer work for that site, but it has been acquired by some different developers and is no longer recommended. Some users reported malware behavior on Nano Defender, and the creator of UBlock Origin criticized it: https://github.com/NanoAdblocker/NanoCore/issues/362

We ultimately recommend UBlock Origin up to this date, due to the loyalty of the creator with the user base, AdBlock Plus is great, but tools like this can change from day to night, and you don't want the extension you use every day to suddenly turn into a malware, having someone vocal about your privacy is a must!

Some websites will constantly bypass ad-blocking extensions, and it's not something exclusive to happen with one extension or another, updating the extension and searching on how to ad-block those specific websites will often be a solution.

Pi-hole, ad-blocking on the next level!

Using Pi-Hole is a great way to get yourself out of any quick change of hearts and having a stable ad-blocking on all your local networks.

By using Pi-Hole as your DNS server you will not only block ads but also economize bandwidth, Pi-Hole can block ads before they are downloaded, which enhances your security and performance, as some ads can be very heavy on page loads.

After setting up Pi-Hole you won't need to add an ad-blocker on each device you own, and for every specific browser, or run the risk caused by some adblocking defusers. Something very important when setting up something with so much power on your network is also available with Pi-Hole, it is open-source, so you're not being backstabbed.

Pi-Hole is available on https://github.com/pi-hole/pi-hole, it is not as easy as the browser extension method but once you do it, you don't have to worry about this topic anymore, although it is great to pay attention to what is going on with its development to be sure you're secure and up-to-date.

Can I use Brave to block ads?

Brave is a browser available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, so it got you covered on all devices and it comes with several features, like built-in ad-blocking, low battery usage on mobile, track-blocking, and good security!

Brave is similar to Chrome, and not very different than other popular browsers, meaning that you practically won't need to learn how to use it. Being itself a fork of Chromium, like Chrome and many other browsers, but the source code for Chrome is private, while Brave's one is public, this means that they share the same "origin" but go to different paths.

You're all set with Brave and shouldn't need to worry about getting extensions by default.

You can know more and download Brave on its website.

Can I block ads on Android or iOS?

You can block ads on mobile devices by either using Pi-Hole, Brave or using the extensions mentioned above but for the mobile browsers, there is no difference in the extension installation process, you just add it and configure it as you like. Some browser extensions for mobile can make your device slow(depending of course on what is your mobile device), testing both are great if you experience a performance degrade after getting an ad-blocker.

Another way of blocking ads on mobile is by changing the Private DNS you are using, you can access the Private DNS configuration on the networking setting of your device and change it to a DNS that will block ads.

You can get an ad-blocking Private DNS from some public providers, or by using Pi-Hole yourself, something that would be more reliable than using a Private DNS that you have no control over.

AdHole has available Private DNS that you can use and you can see them in the AdHole setup guide. If you can't find the Private DNS option on your smartphone, open the Settings app and search for DNS. There are more Private DNS that you can use, like OpenDNS, but using Pi-Hole is recommended because of how much control it gives you.

Brave is ultimately a great solution for mobile ad-blocking, it is a browser, so it won't block it all over the network, but the ad-blocking is built in so you don't have to install any separate extension.

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