You might be asking yourself, “What is an ad blocker?” Let me tell you why you need to know what it is, and why you need to start using one.
What is an Ad Blocker?
Ad blockers are apps that remove or change advertising content on web pages. Some ad blockers replace ads with something else; some just leave the spaces blank. Most ad blockers target “annoying” types of ads like pop-ups and banner ads.
Blocking ads will make web pages load faster. This can help with battery life if you are using a laptop, tablet, or phone since it isn’t working as hard to show you a page.
How Do Ad Blockers Work?
Ad blockers look at the elements on a web page you are accessing and compares the elements to its database. If an element matches a known ad, it gets blocked.
Some Issues with Blocking Ads
Sometimes the ad blocker can be mistaken. It can block or disable something on a page that isn’t an ad. If you come across an instance like this, you can always add the page to the ad blockers white list, or disable the ad blocker completely for a particular website.
Blocking everything is nice, but it can hurt the companies running your favorite websites. They lose revenue when users don’t see their ads. If everyone blocks everything the site could eventually get shut down. I suggest turning the ad blocker off on sites you frequent, but you aren’t necessarily bothered by the ads. I frequently use Reddit, a sort of online bulletin board type community, and I have my ad blocker disabled there.
Block Malicious Stuff
One of the largest benefits I’ve found using an ad blocker is it will block malicious things from getting onto your computer. By malicious I mean things like spyware, malware, and viruses.
A lot of malicious content is distributed through hacked advertising networks. Much of the malicious content acts the same way ads do on websites, so the ad blocker finds it, and blocks it.
It isn’t going to keep you perfectly safe from getting infected with something, but it will sure help you in a lot of instances.
How to Get an Ad Blocker
I use both Mac and PC, and these will work on either system. The Ad Blocker that I use is uBlock Origin. I was using AdBlock Plus in the past, but sometime in late 2015 it was sold to an undisclosed company. The company has since been named, but I don’t feel comfortable with the direction that it went, or that the fact it was sold was kept quiet for a time.
Depending on your web browser you will need to pick the appropriate uBlock Origin Browser Extension.
- Chrome - uBlock Origin - Chrome Web Store
- Firefox - uBlock Origin - Add-ons for Firefox
- Safari - uBlock
If your browser isn’t in the list, it isn’t supported at the moment. But there are plans to add additional support for other browsers by the teams that develop the extension.
Having an ad blocker is like watching TV without commercials. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never want to go back.