10 of the Best Free Ad Blockers (Reviewed)

The internet has become a cornerstone of modern life. Countries with internet access are becoming more knowledgable and job opportunities relating to the internet are growing. Companies have adjusted their marketing strategies and hackers have adapted their data piracy techniques accordingly to keep up with the times.

It has become incredibly rare to locate a website without any advertising content. Some websites even have entire pages dedicated to advertisements. Most websites have multiple advertisements displayed, some of which hackers have strategically placed, or infiltrated, to hijack personal information from or transmit malicious software to victim’s computers.

Do I really need an ad blocker?

Installing an ad blocker may appear to be a trivial matter since they are mainly advertised to reduce the level of spam internet users encounter. Other internet users may believe they do not require ad blockers because they do not use their device to view pornography. This is actually not accurate; no matter what you use your device for, ad blockers act as another line of defense for your device against hackers and other individuals who design malware. While ad blockers are not a replacement for anti-virus programs, they are a good additional step for internet users to provide themselves with extra protection.

There is no such thing as a free lunch

The saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch” is especially true to the internet users of today. Though online advertising enables websites to provide many resources free of charge, ironically, our ability to utilize some of these complimentary resources is negatively impacted by the advertisements that make them possible. Online advertisements have become comparable to the clutter inside a hoarder’s home; there are so many ads displayed on certain websites that they become nearly impossible to use.

A pop-up advertisement, also known as a pop-up ad or pop-up, is a small window that pops up automatically when internet users visit a website. A website’s visitors do not have to click on any specific content to activate a pop-up ad; their mere presence triggers it. Internet users will also encounter videos that automatically play when they visit a website. Other times we are forced to watch an advertisement to watch a video or get to the next level of a game. We can blame adware, software specifically designed to advertise content on the internet and in applications that connect to the internet, for having to swat these digital gnats out of our faces.

Adware

Adware is responsible for any advertisement that you come across online. Once in a blue moon adware might show you a product or service that you actually need or want, but that is a rare occurrence. The guaranteed negatives of dealing with adware tend to outweigh the potential positives.

There are different types of adware on the internet; some are more aggressive than others. Some websites contain a multitude of advertisements requiring visitors to view the content for a certain amount of time, or disable the content in a variety of different ways, such that it is nearly impossible to read the contents without being constantly interrupted.

Accordingly, the speed of internet browsers may be negatively impacted by having to load multiple advertisements as well. Utilizing an ad blocker allows the browser to focus on loading the desired content more quickly, reducing unnecessary content that slows it down. Content loading more quickly means a smoother experience online, as well as a longer battery life for your device of choice. You would not drive your car with one hundred pounds of bricks in the trunk because it would cause your car to need more gas and more maintenance; the same principle applies to reducing the amount of advertisements that your device and internet browser must process.

Malware

Malware is malicious software designed specifically to cause damage to or hack into a device. Advertisements may also contain malware, which can cause your personal information to be compromised or damage your device beyond repair. The worst malicious programs can infect your system without even one click on the malicious content. Some malicious advertisements are designed in such a way that internet users have no choice but to click on the content therein to remove the ad from blocking the content on the website they are visiting.

Other advertisements pop up and cover the entire page and do not have a simple way to close the ad, forcing internet users to waste time attempting to close the advertisement without allowing malicious software access to their computer. Some of these pop-ups are designed to trick internet users into opening the content by linking opening the content to the “X” button usually sought by internet users to close a window. Hackers who create malware even have the ability to disguise their malicious software to encourage unsuspecting internet users to click on the content. By downloading and installing a pop-up ad blocker, your computer is given the ability to defend itself promptly against an attack from malware.

Are you being tracked?

Anyone who uses the internet is most likely being tracked. Cookies and tracking software can also be present in advertisements and websites; from both completely malicious and mostly benign sources. A cookie is a small piece of data downloaded from a website which stores your information to allow the website to bring up content tailored to you when you visit their website in the future. The job of a cookie might not sound too bad initially; no one wants to have to reinvent the wheel each time they use a specific website. However, there is more information to be aware of.

Cookies and other forms of tracking software generally are not limited to one website; some have the ability to follow internet users across the world wide web. The purpose of tracking the activity of internet users is to target potential customers with customized advertising. Some companies need a sale to earn a profit, so they have motivation to get all the information about you that they can to increase the chances of making a sale. Others can earn income simply by tracking the activity of internet users, and the frightening part is that they do not need your permission to do this.

The most alarming aspect of this is that your location is also of interest to these companies, as they occasionally need to advertise local businesses to you in order to earn revenue. Should your specific location and interests fall into the wrong hands, you have completely legitimate security concerns. No matter the source or the reason, most internet users prefer that their activity not be tracked. Utilizing an ad blocker can allow you to maintain more privacy when visiting websites.

Considerations for Parents

As children begin to use the internet more frequently for the completion of school projects and for entertainment purposes, ensuring that they are safe online becomes a critical part of daily life. Simply denying them access is not a reasonable response; children need to become tech savvy to eventually have a competitive edge in the work force, and jobs related to computers are becoming more prevalent than ever before.

Children may not understand the implications of clicking on an advertisement or providing their personal information to a third party. Further, parents must consider that advertisements with adult content matter may pop-up on the screen as children use the internet. This makes obtaining an ad blocker for your family computer a staple for families with children learning to use the internet.

What can we do about it?

Thankfully, there is a solution to these first world problems: ad blockers. Ad blockers are available as a complimentary service or as a premium paid service with advanced features. Internet users may select an ad blocker that acts as a separate program, called a plug in, or they may use an internet browser with an ad blocker integrated into the browser. Others choose to supplement their integrated browser with a plug in ad blocker for extra protection.

Types of Ad Blockers

In an effort to make the internet a more enjoyable place and promote their business, some companies generously provide ad blockers to internet users free of charge either as a separate program or integrated into a website browser. While there are many types to choose from, we will be focusing on the four types below in this article:

  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) with ad blockers are available with integrated applications that combat adware and multiple types of tracking software, making tracking your online activity and personal information more difficult for third parties. A benefit to this option is that users are often able to protect multiple devices, rather than needing multiple subscriptions for each of their devices.
  • Internet Browsers are available with ad blocking capabilities as well. These can be a bit limited in their capabilities when used on their own. Should you want more sophisticated protection, you can download other ad blockers to use with your website browser of choice. It is always recommended to use a website browser that was created by security minded developers, such as Fire Fox.
  • Extensions are available for internet browsers to increase your protection and manage your cookies. If you are happy with the basic protection provided by your internet browser but need a little more security, this is a good option to use simultaneously with other ad blocking programs and integrated website browsers.
  • Internet users also have the ability to establish a router solely dedicated to ad blocking. These routers can instantly block requests from servers that are identified as carriers of adware or tracking services.

Though you could use any of the aforementioned ad blockers solely to protect yourself online, it is best to assemble a “security team” by utilizing multiple ad blockers in addition to anti-virus software. Since each type has different strengths, building a security team ensures that if one ad blocker misses invasive software, another can catch it and escort it to the door.

Basic Features to be aware of

  • White Listing Content: When internet users white list content, it tells the ad blocker that this specific content is on the “VIP list”, and it is allowed “into the club”. It is crucial for the health of your device and the security of your personal information that you only white list websites that you trust.
  • Black Listing Content: When content is black listed, your pop-up blocker of choice becomes an “angry bouncer” and keeps this specific content “out of the party”. Since some viruses and malware can enter your device without a deliberate click on the infected Trojan horse they hide in, which makes black listing websites that you know are not safe to visit important. By black listing unsafe websites, you can contribute towards extending the life of your device and the protection of your personal information.

Why you should not automatically black list all advertising

If you enjoy visiting a particular website and regularly utilize the free services offered there, be sure to white list the website and the types of advertisements they display in your ad blocker’s settings. Advertising is a way that many free websites are able to make the income they need to continue allowing their services to be complimentary.

Before you write off this consideration because you do not make purchases based upon an internet advertisement on a website that you enjoy, consider that some advertised content can generate revenue for a website based solely upon page views, without the requirement that visitors make a purchase.

Internet users downloading ad blockers more prevalently in the last few years has contributed towards websites losing billions in advertising income. Due to the amount websites may lose when ad blockers are used, it is very possible that your favorite website could go out of business without your consideration.

Helping v. Hindering

An ad blocker can actually hinder your internet usage if the wrong settings are in place. If you select a highly security oriented ad blocker, the default settings can be too much of a good thing. It is important to explore all of the available settings in your chosen ad blocker to ensure your specific needs are served. Particular ad blockers will not have the all the features that you need available; if you encounter this issue, you have the option to uninstall the limited ad blocker and install a different one with more customizable options.

Available Options

The amount of ad blockers available can be overwhelming, which makes it difficult to know which is the right one to choose. To help internet users select the right ad blocker for their specific needs, we compiled a list of ten of the best free ad blockers.

For a quick summary of our findings, these are 10 of the best free ad blockers according to our research:

  • uBlock Plus AdBlocker
  • Fire Fox
  • Incognito AdBlocker for Fire Fox
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera
  • AdGuard
  • AdLock
  • No Script
  • Stands Fair Ad Blocker
  • AdBlocker Ultimate

uBlock Plus AdBlocker

What we love:

Internet users who want an ad blocker that they may customize for their specific needs will be satisfied with the uBlock Plus AdBlocker plugin. Users enjoy advanced settings to make this ad blocker fit their specific needs, and they have the ability to create completely customized content filters. If you need a specific type of advertisements to be allowed through, this would be a good choice for your needs. Parents may also appreciate that this ad blocker effectively stops video content programed to automatically play; offering an extra level of protection when children are using the internet unsupervised.

Features that need improvement:

This ad blocker is not the most user friendly for less tech savvy individuals to use. While you may not need a degree in Information Technology to use this program, your knowledge should exceed basic computer skills or this ad blocker may not be the right fit for your needs. Users have minimal control over settings displayed on uBlock Plus AdBlocker’s toggles; any more in-depth adjustments will need to be made in the complete settings menu, which makes customizing this ad blocker a bit of a project for those who are still learning how to effectively use technology. Additionally, it is only compatible with Google Chrome, removing the ability to use this ad blocker universally across your favorite website browsers.

Fire Fox

What we love:

Fire Fox as a company highly values the privacy and safety of their internet users; the company manifesto states, “your right to security and privacy is fundamental – never optional”. The Fire Fox browser gives a whole new meaning to the saying “clever like a fox”; the integrated ad blocker has even been programmed with the ability to differentiate between malicious or unnecessary advertisements. This is important because it will allow pop-up advertisements that you must click on to access content on a particular website; if it blocked everything you might be denied access to certain websites.

If you would prefer to use a website browser with built in capabilities rather than downloading a third party ad blocker, Fire Fox is an excellent choice. Fire Fox also offers add ons for users who want to increase their security further.

An additional advantage to using Fire Fox is that this browser uses about thirty percent less memory than Google Chrome. Another bonus is the logo and the name, if foxes are your thing.

Features that need improvement:

Some of Fire Fox’s security features are limited; if you do not require more sophisticated protection, this browser is a good choice to use the internet and provide your system with basic protection. Also, we still have no idea what the fox says, but we cannot blame that on Fire Fox.

Incognito AdBlocker for Fire Fox

What we love:

True to the nature of Fire Fox, Incognito AdBlocker for Fire Fox gives internet users the ability to protect themselves thoroughly like a cunning fox while surfing the world wide web. Users have the ability to be discreet from their initial download of this ad blocker; it is not required that an account be established to access the benefits.

A particularly helpful feature is the ‘go incognito’ mode, which initiates features available for extra privacy. There is also an “inspector” feature to check the code on websites you visit to thwart hackers from accessing your computer. Incognito AdBlocker for Fire Fox also allows users to adjust settings to whitelist specific types of advertisements.

As this ad blocker is fairly new, the user base is small at this time. Though the user base is small, they are dedicated. Users express a very high level of satisfaction with Incognito AdBlocker for Fire Fox, contributing to a very real potential for this little ad blocker to become the stone of David to the Goliath ad blockers it competes with.

Features that need improvement:

When tested, the default settings of Incognito AdBlocker for Fire Fox did not stop an automatic advertisement from playing, but and adjustment of the settings cured this issue.

This ad blocker has approximately four thousand users, which is not many considering the number of potential users on the world wide web. Considering that this ad blocker is still new and the current users are satisfied, it will likely continue to grow.

Lastly, Incognito AdBlocker for Fire Fox can only be used with the Fire Fox website browser, making this pop-up ad blocker unable to be used across different web browsers. While it has great features, the restriction to only the Fire Fox browser may be holding it back from growing more popular.

Google Chrome

What we love:

Google Chrome has instituted very strict blocking measures for advertisements; websites which have a high content of pop-up advertisements are penalized by being barred from appearing on Google Chrome. Google Chrome’s users are given extra peace of mind knowing that their risk of exposure to malware decreases since they only have the ability to visit websites that have passed this standard.

A nice feature of the default settings on this built in ad blocker specifically targets substandard and/or intrusive advertising content. However, this specificity does allow certain types of advertisements to sneak through.

Additionally, in 2018 Google Chrome reviewed the ad blockers available for download to their internet users and exterminated all ad blocker containing malware. To our knowledge, Google Chrome has continued to monitor the ad blockers available for download by their internet users and removes programs which contain malicious software from being made available for download. Even if you downloaded a previously available malicious version of an ad blocker while using Google Chrome, the safety measures in place by default system, combined with steps taken during the 2018 extermination, should protect your device from the malicious software. Currently, it appears that the ad blockers available for download by Google Chrome users are all legitimate.

Features that need improvement:

Despite Google Chrome’s strict standards which have caused third parties to change their advertising content, Google continues to hold itself to the “Do as I say, not as I do” standard that you resented your parents for as a teenager. Google Chrome still allows their advertisements to be displayed, only placing real restrictions on third party advertisers.

Overall, the built in ad blocker is very limited; as such, it is recommended that Google Chrome users download a third party ad blocker to cover the bases Google Chrome’s ad blocker cannot. Users report that many advertisements still slip through the security features and it is difficult to find a website where all advertising content is blocked. This is not particularly surprising, considering that Google has a significant advertising sector in order to offer their multitude of services for free.

Further, as we all know, the Google platforms track every user’s whereabouts and do not allow users much, if any, privacy. Signing up for Google essentially signs away your privacy online. One day you might thank Google for tracking you if you ever need an alibi, though it is logical to question why they track user’s data so closely, what they do with the information they collect, and why they instituted these practices.

AdGuard

What we love:

AdGuard is a capable and reliable pop-up ad blocker; users report it blocks ads effectively. AdGuard allows users to block all types of advertisements. When tested, AdGuard was able to recognize unwanted advertisements while other ad blockers allowed the same advertisements to sneak through. A feature that users appreciate is the “inverted white list”, which is the ability change your white list of websites to a black list of websites.

There is a free version and a premium version available; users state that the free version of the software accomplishes the desired task very well. AdGuard has been downloaded and used by approximately four million users, and generally is given high ratings. Individuals who utilize multiple website browsers will appreciate AdGuard, as it is compatible with Fire Fox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Yandex.Opera, and Microsoft Edge.

Features that need improvement:

While AdGuard is free to use, they offer a premium version of this program. The features available only in the premium version are not articulated clearly on the website; while that is confusing, users do not report this being a problem because the free version accomplishes their purposes sufficiently. Lastly, some of the more specific ad blocking features did not work correctly when tested; self promotional ads managed to sneak through.

AdLock

What we love:

AdLock is a relatively new ad blocker, but this new kid on the block is aggressive and ready to compete. It was designed to block all forms of advertising, and users report that it is effective. This ad blocker has very strict default settings, which will be in place when it is initially downloaded.

Though AdLock is programed to run a tight ship, it does have options available to users who want to customize its features for their specific needs. Users must be cognizant of adding approved content to their white list in this program due to the air tight default settings. An added bonus is AdLock’s available spyware feature, which specifically targets spyware you may encounter online.

AdLock can block advertisements not only in your website browser, but also in all Windows and Android applications that connect to the internet. Users report that AdLock successfully blocked You Tube advertisements, pop-up ads, and automatically playing ads. Additionally, there are plans to release a parental control feature in the future.

Features that need improvement:

AdLock is available to users of Google Chrome. Users of Android Chrome and Windows may obtain the free version or a premium version with additional features for a fee. However, these upgraded features do not offer a trial period to test them out before committing to a subscription.

Opera

What we love:

Opera is a website browser with ad blocking integrated into the platform, which is ideal for internet users to prefer not to use both a plugin ad blocker. Opera also offers a free virtual private network built into the browser. The developers at Opera are security oriented, which they prove by their track record of being ahead of the curve. Opera was one of the first website browsers to have an integrated ad blocker. Similarly to the phantom of the opera, you may not have heard of Opera, but they have been around for awhile. Considering this innovation, they may be ahead of the curve with other features, making it worthwhile to download this browser for a trial run.

The ad blocking abilities in this browser extend beyond basic ad blocking. Users report that Opera blocks virtually all pop-up advertisements, and as a website browser, it is one of the fastest. Opera also offers IP filters to manage which advertisements are blocked. Additional customization options are available to give users a multitude of security features. If ensuring that your online activity is not being tracked is one of your priorities, Opera is an excellent option. Opera is also compatible with Google Chrome.

Features that need improvement:

It does not stop all advertisements and the pop-up ad blocking features are somewhat limited.

No Script

What we love:

No Scipt can be considered an ad blocker, but it is actually more specialized towards website script. While script can be part of an advertisement, it can also just be regular content on a website. No Script blocks certain types of script on websites, including but not limited to Java, flash, and JavaScript. This feature excels are preventing advertisements from websites that tend to slip through the cracks of other pop-up ad blockers, but it is not completely effective at stopping all advertisements since this program focuses on script rather than advertising content.

Features that need improvement:

No Script does not block advertisements on video content or advertisements that automatically play. Since No Script focuses on the script of websites, it can impact script on websites that you intentionally want to see. The default settings are strict and as such, may require adjustments. No Script would be an excellent addition to another ad blocking program. This program is currently only available for use on the Fire Fox web browser.

Stands Fair Ad Blocker

What we love:

Internet users can block all types of advertisements with this pop-up blocker, and users report that it blocks aggressively. Fans of Stands Fair Ad Blocker particularly praise this ad blocker’s ability to combat advertisements on Facebook and in Google searches. The company also encourages users to allow certain types of advertisements or certain websites to be white listed; this is a good reminder to white list your favorite free website, thereby helping to keep them in business by giving them the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising.

Stands Fair Ad Blocker is also a low impact plugin, meaning it will be less taxing on your device, giving it more power and thereby giving you smoother content loading. Stands Fair Ad Blocker was not created to block wholesale advertisements, but users have used this blocker for that purpose and it was successful.

Features that need improvement:

Stands Fair Ad Blocker may only be utilized by Google Chrome users. While many people use Google Chrome as their internet browser, if you love this ad blocker but want to try another internet browser, it will not be able to move with you.

AdBlocker Ultimate

What we love:

AdBlocker Ultimate can block most advertisements internet users will come across. Internet users who frequent You Tube regularly will appreciate this pop-up ad blocker, as it was successful at blocking advertisements on You Tube. A very helpful feature available to AdBlocker Ultimate users is a “block element”, which immediately blocks any pop-up advertisements that manage to sneak through. AdBlocker Ultimate has a loyal following and is highly rated.

Features that need improvement:

This pop-up ad blocker has not been updated recently, which means that other pop-up ad blockers may have more advanced features available. However, it is not recommended for internet users who may need to visit websites with a high amount of pop-up advertisements. Testers of this pop-up ad blocker also noted that it was completely ineffective at blocking content on certain websites. Lastly, AdBlocker Ultimate is only available to Google Chrome users.

Ad Blockers to Avoid

The following ad blockers are not recommended, as users have reported incompetent performance and undesirable features:

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is a website browser with an integrated pop-up blocker. While it is effective at protecting users from malware, it is a little too good at ad blocking. Microsoft Edge does not allow users to customize the ad blocking settings or white list websites; this means that if you must enable advertisements or pop-up windows to access a certain website, you will not be able to access it using this browser. While these tight default settings offer protection, there are much better options available for use.

Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus is one of the oldest ad blockers on the internet and functions very similarly to Adblock. The biggest draw back to Adblock Plus is that they receive funds from companies in exchange for allowing specific advertisements to be white listed in their default features, which kind of defeats the point of downloading the program.

Smart Popup Blocker

The overall performance of Smart Popup Blocker leaves much to be desired. Users report that this ad blocker has dated features and allows many advertisements that should have been blocked through the applied filters. Smart Popup Blocker also focuses on features that most users are not likely to ever use, such as a blocker for windows messenger. The negatives of this ad blocker outweigh the positives.

Proceed with Caution

Perhaps none of the aforementioned pop-up ad blockers seemed to fit your needs. Should you decide to test a pop-up blocker not listed above, please always exercise caution when seeking a free pop-up blocker from a source that you are not familiar with. Hackers frequently create fake pop-up blockers to use as a Trojan horse to install malicious software into victim’s computers. Hackers utilize ad blocker scams to collect data about your internet browsing habits. Depending on the type of malware installed, hackers may even have the ability to alter the performance of your website browser.

A common method used by hackers is titling their malware ad blocker a name that is very similar to a popular ad blocker; this tricks users into thinking it is the same reputable ad blocker they may have heard of. The following list is a compilation of ad blockers that contained malware:

  • Adblock Plus
  • Adblock Pro
  • HD for YouTube
  • uBlock Plus
  • AdRemover for Google Chrome
  • Suberblock Adblocker
  • Webutation

Can I truly rely on free ad blockers?

Users report that the free versions of these ad blockers are very capable and have met their needs. As such, it is our position that there is no reason to pay for something that you can obtain for free with abilities and features comparable to a premium paid version.

Of course, there is one benefit premium ad blockers may offer that free ad blockers do not have. If you are still learning about technology, purchasing a premium version of an ad blocker will provide you with reliable customer support. Although you may be able to obtain advice for free on websites online, if you get stuck with a particular setting, most software companies have the ability to remotely access your device to assist you. It is never safe to provide remote access to a third party who is not affiliated with the company who created your ad blocker. Eventually you may learn enough about computers that having access to customer support will no longer be necessary, and at point you can save money by downloading a free version of your favorite ad blocker.

If you are considering purchasing an ad blocker, here is a list of premium ad blockers to consider:

  • CyberSec by NordVPN
  • CleanWeb by SurfShark
  • CyberGhost
  • R.O.B.E.R.T. by Windscribe

Closing Considerations

If you like to use different internet browsers, it is best to select ad blockers that can be used across different browsers to minimize the programs downloaded onto your computer. Between having the minimal amount of programs installed on your device and having a reliable ad blocker, your device’s content loading speed should be as quick as a bunny.

Pop-up ad blockers can improve your experience when using the internet, and there are many safe options available at no cost to you. If you download a particular ad blocker and decide that the available features do not suit your needs, we encourage you to try another ad blocker rather than opt to use the internet without any ad blocker at all. It is in the best interests of your online safety, as well as the maintenance and preservation of your privacy, that you download and use an ad blocker. There is a possibility that a certain feature you are interested in are only available in premium versions of ad blockers. With some additional research, you are likely to find a premium ad blocker that will meet your needs at a reasonable price.

Thank you for reading this article; we hope you were able to select the best ad blocker for your needs. Please comment below about your experience with your selected pop-up blocker.

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