These days, there are ads everywhere we look online. You're asked to watch a video, buy a product, subscribe to the latest streaming service, and so on.
It is estimated that in a single day the average person sees 10,000 advertisements. That's an amazing number when you compare it to the 500 or so ads people saw in the 1970s.
If you think that's too much advertising - you're not the only one who thinks so. And if you want to save your brain from sensory overload, read on for the ultimate guide.
In order to really be able to surf without ads, a single free ad blocker is often not enough. Therefore, it makes sense to use a browser that blocks ads by default. The Brave browser is an excellent choice for this, which does not require any special technical knowledge.
How can I view websites without any ads?
The following two options a good way to make surfing the Internet ad-free:
Ad blockers may be in a morally gray area (since many site operators rely financially on ad revenue), but they make web browsing much more enjoyable.
Many of the available ad blockers are free and are usually added as an extension. Extensions take care of all browser-specific blocking, while standalone apps usually block ads system-wide.
There are also paid options that include more than just a simple ad blocker. For most, the free options should be enough, but if you have specific needs, you should consider whether paid apps meet those requirements.
With some ad blockers you can filter and choose to allow non-intrusive ads, while others are more aggressive and block ads. Again, it depends on your needs.
You should consider whether an extension is enough or whether you should switch to a browser that is more privacy-focused. Such browsers help block ads and trackers at the file level, speed up loading speed, and make your online experience smoother.
Pro-tip; To really protect yourself, you should pair your private browser with the DuckDuckGo or Brave search engines, as these two options do not sell your data to third-party providers.
This can all seem confusing, so start by describing exactly what privacy concerns you want to have. Is it just the pop-up ads that bother you? Or are you looking for a full suite of privacy and anti-tracking features that satisfy you?
Once you know what you want, you can quickly narrow down your choices.
Are there any good privacy-friendly browsers?
Yes, there are! Let’s have a look.
Note: This list is in no particular order.
Mozilla has built a good reputation for privacy and Firefox Focus is another great addition to the lineup. This browser is a more privacy-friendly variant of Firefox that has ad blockers and anti-tracking built in. Despite all these additions, the browser is lightweight and functional and consumes few resources.
Among many other privacy-friendly features, there is automatic cookie deletion and history deletion. Blocking social networks, content, trackers and ads is possible with a few clicks and switches.
Want complete anonymity? That's what stealth mode is for.
When it comes to privacy, Brave Browser is by far the smartest way to go. The developers say that it was designed from the ground up with privacy in mind, and it shows when you browse.
Ad blockers and anti-tracking are already built in, while secure HTTPS is implemented on all the websites you visit. According to Brave Browser, it is also up to 30% faster than Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
They also have an interesting cryptocurrency system where you get paid in crypto just for using the app or periodically watching selected Brave ads while you surf. Surf the web AND earn money? Sign us up!
Although Focus is the more privacy-friendly option, its older brother is nothing to scoff at either. The default privacy settings are miles ahead of Chrome, and if you feel like it, you can tweak the settings even more. The mobile version is also a strong contender for best mobile browser.
Chromium and Edge
Microsoft's newest browser, Edge, is now a viable alternative. Although not as effective as some of the other options on this list, Edge's built-in ad-blocking is much more effective than Chrome's.
If you're not a fan of Microsoft - which is understandable - you can consider Chromium, an open-source fork of Google Chrome. You'll enjoy the same user interface and browser extensions, but without Google's creepy hands.
Are there browsers that do not display ads by default?
Brave is definitely the right choice if you want an ad-free browsing experience with minimal effort. It comes with its own search engine called Brave, although you can opt for six different options, including DuckDuckGo if you want.
Brave does not store, display, or sell your browsing history to third parties. Until you delete it, your history remains only on your devices.
The default setting blocks malware, ad attempts, phishing and suspicious plugins. Some of the other features are:
- “Do Not Track” requests
- Tracker blocking
- Cookie control
- Fingerprinting prevention
- Script blocking
Opera is one of the older browsers on the market, but its reputation has suffered after being sold to a Chinese consortium in 2016.
The built-in VPN no longer offers full system encryption, but its ad blocking efforts are still commendable. It integrates the Ad Blocker to block ads on all websites, but since it uses a plugin, browsing is a bit slower than Brave. The VPN is a solid offering, albeit a bit slow and not as secure as they would have you believe. Still, it works well in a pinch, but those who are seriously concerned about their privacy should look for another VPN.
The best ad blockers today
The following list is in no particular order.
On Edge, Safari, Firefox and Chrome, AdBlock Plus is one of the most popular ad blockers around.
Users can create additional blocklists, whitelist their favorite sites, and set their own filters. It's also incredibly easy to set up and comes with its own preset filters that quickly remove ads, hide social media buttons, and filter malware. The "non-intrusive ads" feature does let some ads through. If that bothers you, you can quickly disable it in the settings.
uBlock Origin is another highly recommended browser-based adblocker that consumes few system resources and blocks easily and effectively. It has various filters that block out known advertisers and malware sources. Besides, you can create your own block list.
AdBlock is in no way related to the AdBlock Plus mentioned above. It is available for Safari, Edge, Chrome and Firefox and is currently one of the best ad blocker extensions. Similar to the two options mentioned above, it has its own list of ad servers and trackers that are automatically blocked, while users can add or remove options to customize their browsing experience.
Ghostery works like the other extensions on this list, removing ads to make browsing more efficient. What really makes it stand out from the crowd is its privacy features, which you won't find with other ad blockers.
With it, you can look at trackers to better understand who is trying to collect information about you, and the advanced anti-tracking completely anonymizes your data and protects you from suspicious elements.
All this comes at a price. There is a free version that offers basic protection, but advanced features cost from $4.99 per month. You can also upgrade to a version with VPN for $11.99 per month.
Ghostery works on both iOS and Android.
Best standalone ad blocker apps
Looking for more comprehensive options than a browser extension? The following applications might be just what you're looking for.
AdGuard is a subscription-based application that removes ads from both smartphones and desktops.
AdGuard is compatible with both Mac and Windows and is highly configurable, allowing you to customize your content, advertising, and tracker settings. Strong parental controls allow you to restrict explicit content.
It also works on Android without root and blocks ads on websites as well as in games and apps. However, it is not available on Google Play, so you have to install it directly from the AdGuard website. On iOS, it works similarly.
AdLock is a separate application that not only blocks ads in your browser. It can block trackers in all applications on your PC, including Skype and games.
It runs in the background with various filters that block pop-ups, ads and auto-playing videos. Besides, there's Safe Browsing to keep you away from unsafe and suspicious websites. This has the added benefit that preventing these elements will also speed up your loading times.
This app is also not available in the Play Store, so you'll have to sideload it.
Exclusively available for rooted Android devices, AdAway is a free, open-source solution that removes file-level advertising. When a website or app tries to access an ad provider, it is redirected to an empty IP address, saving bandwidth and improving the user experience. The app already comes with its own filters, but you can also add your own sources to the blacklist.
This ad blocker is one of the first and most effective ad blockers on iOS and makes browsing a faster and safer experience. It works with Safari's own content blocker API and informs the browser to block sources in advance instead of blocking content from a loaded page.
There are about 115000 blocker rules as well as regional tracker blocking settings to protect you. The download is free, but premium features are only available as in-app purchases.