The Best (and Worst) Ad Blockers UPDATED
Pop up advertisements are some of the most annoying things you’ll find on the Internet, especially when they appear suddenly after you click on a website or an advertising banner.
However, not all pop-ups are irritating advertisements; some play a crucial role for the websites that use them.
For example, in secure payment areas or catalogs, a pop-up ensures you stay on the page and still complete a task.
Unfortunately, other ads can be malicious and might be encrypted with malware.
If they appear for no apparent reason, they could be some type of malware, which can not only infect your browser with more ads, it can also infect your whole device!
Since you most likely don’t want inappropriate ads all over your desktop screen, it’s best to be careful where you click.
Luckily, there’s a way to prevent these malicious pop-ups from the start, and that’s with an ad-blocker. Not all ad-blockers are the same, though, and some protect more than others.
Below, we give you the rundown of some of the best (and not so best) free ad blockers for online browsers.
These are the best and worst ad blockers:
This is definitely our number one pick for blocking ads. True to its name, AdBlock not only shows the necessary pop-ups (like it should), but it also blocks other ads, including those annoying YouTube ads.
What we really love about AdBlock is how you can customize it. The options include preset filters, blocking individual ads, allowing other ads to show, and whitelisting.
It’s available as an extension on most web-browsers (including Safari) and is easy to install. The plethora of features in this free application makes it our top ad-blocker on this list.
While it’s not the most-used web-browser, Opera offers some privacy features well beyond generic pop-up blocking.
One of the best features it has is a built-in VPN, so you know it’s security oriented.
However, as an ad-blocker, Opera also blocks on-page ads and blocks tracking cookies.
Opera lets you manage which pop-ups are blocked and which are allowed using the IP filtering feature. Because it includes other levels of cybersecurity (like being able to use another IP and browse the web anonymously) it made it to our list.
Recommended? Yes. Especially if you want a VPN, too.
If you use Firefox as your online browser, you’re in luck. Firefox’s ad-blocker has some of the best in-browser ad-block software available.
While the features are limited compared to third-party software, it’s pretty secure for being built into the browser.
Firefox can block pop-ups, tracker cookies, and it includes a whitelist to allow exceptions. When we tested it, Firefox passed on all fronts; allowing the good pop-ups through and blocking the bad ones.
If you’re not going to install a third-party blocker, we suggest you start browsing the web with Firefox. (And you can increase your security with these 20 add-on recommendations.)
Coming in fourth place is Chrome. The beloved, easy-to-use Google browser has a decent line of defense against ads.
It blocks most of the bad ads and allows the secure pop-ups to appear. It also has some flexibility; it includes a tracking cookie blocker, and you can add trusted sites that allow pop-ups where they’re needed.
But, because Google is known to track your activity for advertisements, we can’t trust it to always block out unwanted ads.
Recommended? Yes, but try to add an ad blocker extension, too.
Although AdFender isn’t a free blocker, like the other blockers on this list, we still decided to give it a go. AdFender offer a trial for a limited amount of time, but then you have to renew your license every year.
Because we are all about net neutrality, we really like how AdFender lets you browse anonymously with TOR. But there’s more to it than that. AdFender blocks video ads (even on Youtube), a number of other popups, and it lets you customize your settings.
You can also view your browsing statistics, which you can’t do with other apps.
However, you still have to pay to get all of these features. That, and the fact that AdFender is only available for Windows, brings it down on our list.
Recommended? Yes, if you’re willing to pay. Otherwise, you can find a similar free ad blocker.
Even though it’s one of the lesser popular web browsers, we were impressed with Microsoft Edge’s ad-blocker.
As the spiritual successor to Internet Explorer, Edge blocked every malicious ad and enabled all of the good pop-ups.
However, unlike Firefox’s built-in software, the settings cannot be changed, so whitelisting is not available. Reviewers also mentioned that Edge tends to block some pop-ups required by sites to work.
Recommended? Only if you’re a big fan of Internet Explorer, otherwise, we suggest you look into other browsers.
Not to be confused with AdBlock, Adblock Plus is a simple extension that comes with a couple of options.
You can choose to enable certain pop-ups for specific websites, build a whitelist, and create your own filter.
We weren’t that impressed with its filtering system, since it failed to block some of the obtrusive ads, but it’s still a decent free ad-blocker. If you just want to get started with minimal blocks, Adblock Plus is a great option.
Recommended? Not quite. There are better ad blockers out there.
If you’re just looking for a simple ad-blocker, uBlock is great for that. But, if you want something with more features that you can customize, we suggest looking at others.
Since you can’t adjust the strength of its filter, there’s not a lot of control over what the app blocks. On the other hand, it does include a whitelist. But, the limited amount of log data makes us curious.
However, because it uses little memory and is free, we still think it’s a decent ad blocker.
Recommended? Not really, but it does the job.
Smart Popup Blocker
This is not a good blocker and we do not suggest you use it.
Smart Popup Blocker was the only ad blocker that failed every test.
While the features it lists are useful, like a whitelist and cookie management to delete unwanted cookies, it is not an easy-to-install extension for your browser. We also wonder why it has a pop-up block for Windows Messenger. Who uses that anymore?
With its dated features and incompetent blocking, we cannot recommend this blocker.
There are many ad blockers to choose from out there on the Internet, but knowing which ones do the job well will give you a better experience. We hope that this list helps you in your search for an ad-free browsing experience.