4 Best (and 2 Worst) Ad Blockers for Any Browser in 2021
It’s frustrating to have video ads, pop-ups, and banners clog up your screen when you’re trying to watch YouTube, torrent some files, or even read the news. These interruptions are annoying, but they can also compromise your privacy and security.
That’s because these intrusions can contain adware, malware, and trackers. Many can deliver their malicious payload even if you don’t click anything. Plus, adware doesn’t always stay where it’s supposed to. It can follow you from website to website, gathering data about your browsing habits, interests, and location.
There are a huge number of ad blockers that promise to prevent interruptions and protect you from the dangers of malware. I’ve tested and evaluated over a dozen ad blockers, and I found only a few I’m willing to recommend (and a couple you should definitely stay away from). The ad blocker that worked best for me was CyberGhost because its VPN app can easily block ads and malware. Plus, you can try it for free for 45-days with its money-back guarantee.
Short on time? Here’s our quick guide.
- CyberGhost – Easy-to-use interface offers adware and malware protection.
- AdBlock – Free browser extension with customizable features.
- R.O.B.E.R.T. by Windscribe – Excellent customization options, and a pared-back version is available with the free plan.
- AdLock — Blocks ads in your browser, plus all your apps that use the internet to maximize device performance
Best Ad Blockers – Full Analysis (Updated September 2021)
- Use for free with a CyberGhost subscription
- Blocks ads, trackers, and malware
- Promotes faster website loading times
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Use on up to 7 simultaneous devices
- Supported platforms: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Firefox, and Linux
CyberGhost offers protection against ads, tracking, and malware within the VPN’s apps. You need to manually activate each of these forms of protection, and I recommend turning on all three for maximum security against popups and dangerous websites.
Rather than blocking all DNS requests from specific websites, CyberGhost’s ad blocker works by removing part of the code from the server request that tries to pull ads.
I tested the ad and malware protection, and it functioned great. It blocked ads on Facebook, BuzzFeed, and more. These blockers made my browsing experience much smoother as there was no waiting for ads to load.
Not only does CyberGhost block annoying ads and protect you from possible threats like malware, but your online privacy and security are well protected too. While using CyberGhost, my online data was encrypted and I could choose from hundreds of different IP addresses to mask my personal info from hackers and even my ISP. Connecting to a server with an IP address based in the US even allowed me to unblock US Netflix and watch shows not normally available to me on my smartphone, laptop, and smart TV.
Device compatibility is excellent, with the ad-blocking features included with all of CyberGhost’s apps. If you have any issues activating the blockers, friendly and supportive live chat support agents are available day or night to help.
You need a CyberGhost subscription to use its ad blocker, but you can try it and the VPN on up to 7 simultaneous devices when you take advantage of its 45-day money-back guarantee. I tested this out and it was surprisingly easy – all I had to do was answer a few questions and the live chat rep processed my refund. I got my money back a week later. You can also save up on CyberGhost if you take advantage of its 83% off discount.
- Easy-to-use browser extension
- Prevents tracking from advertisers
- Blocks pop-up ads
- Improves browser speed by stopping interruptions
- Acceptable Ads feature for more control
- Supported platforms: Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge
AdBlock has been around for over a decade and remains one of the best ad blockers. The browser extension has great compatibility, the ability to block ads throughout the web, and customizable features for ultimate control.
This app doesn’t just block popup ads—it also stops banner ads, video ads, and more. I tested it while browsing Facebook and checking out my favorite news site, and there were no annoying ads of any kind.
AdBlock participates in the Acceptable Ads program, which means that non-obtrusive ads are not blocked by default. But it’s easy to opt out in AdBlock’s settings if you want to block all ads completely. Further customization options include filters for individual ads, whitelisting, and colorful themes. You can even replace some ads with pictures of dogs, cats, and landscapes.
By blocking malicious ads, phishing scams, cryptocurrency miners, and third-party trackers, AdBlock ensures you can browse safely while protecting your privacy.
The app is free to use and is compatible with all the major browsers. During my tests, I found it easy to download and install on all browsers, and it was easy to get to grips with the customization. Plus, you can back up and sync your customization rules across browsers.
When installing in on my Chromebook, I experienced a decrease in load times from the lack of ads and improved battery life. This is really useful if you use your devices a lot on the move.
The ad blocker works automatically after installation, but if you do have any questions, fast and friendly support is available from the AdBlock team. Plus, there’s an extensive help center on the AdBlock website for independent troubleshooting.
- Available for free with Winscribe’s paid and free plans
- Block ads, trackers, and malware
- Customizable to meet your needs
- Tools for controlling your household’s browsing habits
- Speeds up webpage load times
- Supported platforms: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and Linux
R.O.B.E.R.T. is Windscribe VPN’s cybersecurity feature that protects your devices from ads, malware, phishing attempts, and trackers. It blocks all DNS requests from a list of known domains.
The ad blocker worked great in eliminating all types of ads on the webpages I visited. Without ads and trackers causing congestion, I noticed that my loading speeds were much faster. Plus, when I tried connecting to websites that I knew to be dangerous, R.O.B.E.R.T. prevented my access to keep my computer safe.
R.O.B.E.R.T. offers some useful customizations. For example, you can create custom blocklists of domains or IP addresses that you never want to access. You can also whitelist those sites that you don’t want R.O.B.E.R.T. to interfere with.
Furthermore, you can create household block lists to control browsing habits—toggle access to social media sites, gambling sites, porn sites, fake news, and more.
Subscribers of Windscribe Pro get full access to all of R.O.B.E.R.T.’s blocking powers on unlimited devices, whereas users of the free version get malware and ad blocking on just three devices.
With the paid plan, you can take advantage of a 3-day money-back guarantee to test the service risk-free.
I found that customer service could be improved: When you use the live chat, you have to talk to chatbot Garry first. It’s not always useful, but if it can’t answer a query about R.O.B.E.R.T., it will pass you over to the live chat team for more help.
- Standalone ad blocker
- Blocks ads on websites and mobile apps
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Supported platforms: Windows, Android, Chrome, Safari
AdLock is a standalone ad blocker available as a download for various devices and as a browser extension for Chrome and Safari. It blocks all types of ads, malware, and connections to malicious websites. It also stops trackers to protect your privacy.
When I tested AdLock on my Chromebook, I saw no ads when visiting torrenting sites, scrolling through Facebook, and streaming on YouTube.
Next, I installed the app on my Android phone—I was up and running within minutes. There were no interruptions from autoplay video ads when I played Scrabble GO or Candy Crush Saga through the apps.
This meant that the gaming apps ran much smoother and didn’t use up nearly as much data, which was extremely useful when there wasn’t WiFi on a recent bus trip.
On Android and Windows devices, AdLock blocks ads on your web browser, as well as any app that connects to the internet. Plus, AdLock can skip past ad-blocker detection, something website owners use to prevent commercial content from being removed.
The AdLock browser extension is free, but for Android and Windows devices, it’s a paid subscription. With a plan, you can protect up to 5 devices at the same time. Not sure if it’s worth the cost? Test it out risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Not to be confused with AdBlock, Adblock Plus is a browser extension that allows you to enable certain pop-ups for specific websites, build a whitelist, and create your own filter. However, Adblock Plus has received criticism for receiving money from online publishers to whitelist their ads. This seems to be a conflict of interest that you might want to avoid in an ad blocker.
Smart Popup Blocker
During the testing process, Smart Popup Blocker failed to block a number of non-intrusive ads and popups. While it does offer some useful features, such as a whitelist and cookie management, its inability to reliably block ads—and therefore potentially dangerous adware—means Smart Popup Blocker is best avoided.
What’s adware, and why is it dangerous?
Adware is software that’s designed to display advertisements and generate revenue for its developer. You experience adware anytime you visit a website with banner ads, popups, or videos.
While ads are annoying, they’re also sometimes dangerous because they may gather data about you. They invade your privacy to learn as much as possible about you, with some even tracking you as you move from website to website.
Worse, some ads are used to spread malware. Malicious adware can infect your browser or device when you click on an ad, but some kinds of adware can infect you even if you never click anything.
What kinds of ad blockers are there?
The most common kinds of ad blockers you’ll see include standalone services, browser extensions, and VPNs with dedicated security suites. Each of these services will differ in the amount of protection they afford.
For example, some standalone ad blockers only combat ads; they may not guard against malware or protect you from suspicious websites. Most VPNs with dedicated security suites, on the other hand, protect against nearly all online threats, including hackers and even government surveillance.
How safe are ad blockers?
Legitimate apps and services are extremely safe. However, there are a number of scam services that operate using similar names to legitimate apps. These fake ad blockers collect data about your browsing habits, and they may even change your browser’s behavior. Examples of fake ad blockers include:
- Adblock Plus
- Adblock Pro
- HD for YouTube
- uBlock Plus
- AdRemover for Google Chrome
- Superblock Adblocker
Avoid falling victim to an ad blocker scam by sticking with one of the ad blockers I’ve recommended. They’re all 100% safe to use and utilize advanced software to protect your devices from being compromised by adware, malware, and other malicious content.
Each of my recommendations was subject to rigorous testing to ensure they could match up to their claims and reliably block ads.
Are ad blockers easy to use?
Don’t worry if you’re not tech-savvy: All the ad blockers on this list are simple to install and set up—I tested them myself. They come with customizable features that you can activate or deactivate with a single click.
My research methodology focused on three main areas to ensure you get the protection you need when you need it.
Efficiency in Blocking Ads
I tested each of the blockers on this list to ensure they lived up to their claims. Using each one, I visited numerous ad-heavy sites, like Facebook and YouTube, to ensure that all ads were blocked, therefore eliminating the dangers of adware.
Ease of Use
Because I tested all these ad blockers for myself, I can confirm that each one is easy to use, even for those who are new to this kind of software. I looked for user-friendly features and simple customization so every user gets the ad-blocking and malware protection they need.
It was important that the ad blockers were compatible with a wide range of devices and browsers for all-around protection against adware, malware, and malicious websites. Plus, I felt it was important that these ad blockers offer support for protecting numerous gadgets at once.
The Bottom Line
Ad blockers can do a lot to improve your browsing experience, but more importantly, they can also protect you from trackers, malicious adware, and dangerous websites.
There are many ad blockers from which to choose, all offering different levels of protection. If you want complete protection from adware, hackers, and other cyberthreats, I recommend choosing a VPN that has built-in ad-blocking software, like CyberGhost.
VPNs combine ad blocking, military-grade encryption, and a ton of extra features to guarantee your privacy, safeguard your sensitive data, and protect your devices every time you go online.
To summarize, here are the best VPNs with ad blockers in 2021…
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