Pop-ups are the bane of the Internet: they’re intrusive, annoying and compromise your privacy. Even when closed immediately, a single pop-up can load malware and trackers onto your PC, revealing your personal details to marketers. Pop-up blockers keep your privacy intact, and we at Cloudwards.net want to help you protect your privacy.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the five best pop-up blockers, looking specifically at efficiency, compatibility and privacy. For the best protection, we recommend pairing any of our picks with a VPN from our list of best VPN providers.
uBlock Origin is our pick for top pop-up blocker, as it provides an open-source extension that’s efficient, safe and works with all major browsers. If you’re not sure about uBlock, take a look at our other choices for one that you’re sure to like.
Why Use a Pop-Up Blocker?
When you browse the Internet, marketers will monitor you — even with “do not track” on — recording your personal data to sell to advertising companies. This violates your privacy and risks your info falling into the wrong hands. Using a solid pop-up blocker prevents these privacy leaks. Ad Muncher works in all your browsers with just one download, halting tracking ads in their steps.
With malvertisements littering the Internet, pop-up blockers are crucial in stopping them before they load. Adblock provides a clean, easy-to-use extension that ends the threat of malvertisements.
Whether you prefer to browse with Google or Microsoft, our picks need to have extensions for all. Ghostery accomplishes this with support for most modern browsers, including Firefox, Chrome and Edge.
With these criteria in mind, let’s look at the top five.
Built with efficiency in mind, uBlock Origin is a light and effective blocker that firmly sits at the top of our list. The software is open source and skips on a website in favor of a GitHub page.
While hosting on GitHub doesn’t have the browsing comfort of a website, uBlock Origin explains that it’s to keep from requiring donations; it’s also available for download on the Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Opera web stores.
Benchmarks provided by uBlock Origin show the least privacy leaks out of top ad blockers; of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt, and uBlock Origin provides the methods used so that it can be replicated. Dynamic filtering is also encouraged by uBlock Origin for increased protection, and it’s provided a tutorial on setting it up.
uBlock Origin also provides an advanced mode for its users, but it’s recommended for experienced users only, as certain settings may compromise performance.
Other Reasons We Like uBlock Origin
uBlock Origin is incredibly open in its customization and functions, and can either work great as soon as it’s installed or be modified until it’s exactly what you want. uBlock Origin’s GitHub wiki also holds several guides and answers to get you set up and informed, along with troubleshooting steps to solve any issues.
Even if you’re not the tinkering type, you can still take advantage of the efficiency and protection that uBlock Origin offers.
- Uses minimal PC resources
- Open source
- Great stance on security
- No dedicated website
Originally released in 1999 as a paid software, Ad Muncher is a free program that covers all your browsers with one download. Ad Muncher blocks pop-ups and ads in Chrome, Firefox and Edge (with some work) without needing additional extensions.
Ad Muncher’s slight incompatibility with Edge and inability to block YouTube ads gets it to second place, but the latter could theoretically be fixed with some tinkering.
Ad Muncher provides strong blocking with a lot of customization, featuring prevention toggles for reloading web pages, resizing windows, changing scrollbar colors and even one for censoring suspected adult content. You can also add your own filters for Ad Muncher to block, a good addition in case the already-thorough filter list falls short.
Equipped to handle malvertisements and other adware, Ad Muncher can handle malware with ease. The over 1,000 testimonials from happy customers on its website also play to its favor, and the 18-year background in Internet security helps affirm the reliability of Ad Muncher.
Ad Muncher provides an all-in-one solution for all your blocking needs, which is compelling on its own. Throw in effective pop-up blocking and a variety of customization options, and you’ve got a solid blocker that’s worth checking out.
Other Reasons We Like Ad Muncher
Ad Muncher features a help page with an online chat and email contact form, as well as a forum and FAQ page. Users can also reveal a (normally hidden) toolbar in any browser, which allows them to report certain pages, “munch” certain items and not filter select pages.
Ad Muncher also has program filtering built-in, so you can select which programs you want to be filtered, and Ad Muncher does the rest. While the effectiveness of this feature may vary depending on the app, we appreciate it’s inclusion.
- Works for most browsers with one download
- Wide variety of blocking tools
- Edge support requires some work
- Doesn’t block YouTube video ads
Adblock is a simple and efficient blocker for a variety of platforms, including Firefox, Chrome and Edge. The simplicity of Adblock is reflected in its website, where you’ll find highlights of its popularity, pay-what-you-want distribution and FAQs covering company background, name, privacy and donations.
Adblock sits discreetly on your toolbar displaying a count of blocked ads, and by clicking it you get a few blocking settings, a reporting option, links to donate and the options menu. From this menu, users can allow certain “non-intrusive” ads, toggle the ad-block count and access more advanced options.
This page also has the option to whitelist YouTube channels, which is specifically handy for heavy streamers looking to support their favorite content creators. Users looking to region unlock the video hosting giant should also check out our guide on unblocking YouTube.
This kind of data collection drives away users and makes them less likely to donate, and since Adblock doesn’t accept Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, users looking to support the extension will be forced to leave a paper trail. Luckily, no personal information or payment is required to use Adblock, but keep in mind that some anonymous data will still be logged.
Adblock provides a filter list specifically for malware protection, so all those malware installing ads will be blocked. Any other malware-ridden links can be added to the filter list, which Adblock links a handy tutorial on made by its competitor Adblock Plus.
Other Reasons We Like Adblock
Adblock’s support site hosts a knowledge base, tutorials and a forum for discussion and feature suggestions. If those resources aren’t enough, you can always submit a support ticket for more specific help.
The forum alone hosts a large amount of topics and discussions, as well as troubleshooting steps for various problems. Paired up with the deep knowledge base, Adblock delivers strong support on top of a solid blocking service.
- Great support
- Works perfectly with little effort
Adblock Plus (no relation to Adblock) is an open-source blocking extension for Firefox, Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Adblock Plus can be added to your computer browser through an extension, or added to your iOS or Android device through the Adblock Browser app.
Firefox and Chrome users will have the extension next to the address bar, while it’ll stay hidden in the options menu for Edge users. In Edge and Chrome, the extension displays the current blocking status and amount of ads blocked. In Firefox, Adblock Plus displays a dropdown menu, giving users shortcuts to disable blocking, report an issue, open a blocked item and change filter settings.
Unfortunately, the Firefox extension falls a bit short, lacking the polish and options of the Edge and Chrome extensions.
For example, Firefox users have to visit each page they want whitelisted and then disable Adblock Plus for that site, but Chrome and Edge users can go to their options and whitelist domains without visiting each page. There are also features that the Firefox extension doesn’t have, like being able to right-click and block any element on the webpage.
Data collection is rather uncomfortable, but Adblock Plus eases this discomfort by providing clear details about how Eyeo GmbH, its parent company, handles your data; the company address and contact info is given if you wish to block, correct or delete specific personal details. Unfortunately, Adblock Plus doesn’t state that users can completely erase their data, but does state that it will be deleted if no longer needed.
Adblock Plus blocks malware by default, which will likely satisfy most users’ needs. Those looking for a bit more protection can visit its features page to download a comprehensive filter list of malware domains. We would’ve preferred this filter list be preloaded so users could get the best protection from the start, but it’s good that it’s provided regardless.
Adblock Plus is a solid blocker with strong security features that solidify its spot on our list. It’s data collection and weak Firefox extension keep it from rising higher than fourth, but be sure to try it out and see if it works for you.
Other Reasons We Like Adblock Plus
The Adblock Plus website also hosts links for disabling tracking ads and social media buttons, along with tutorials on enabling Adblock Plus on a variety of platforms. It also features tutorials on more specific issues like blocking ads on YouTube and Facebook.
Users can also utilize the official Adblock Plus forum to discuss a variety of topics, and get support from other users as well as Adblock Plus’ support team.
- Active forum with solid support
- Solid security features
- Lackluster Firefox extension
- Collects some data
Ghostery is one of the best looking blockers on our list, featuring an intuitive and smooth interface and great blocking performance. Owned by the same people behind the Cliqz browser, Ghostery has extensions for Firefox, Edge and Chrome, and also has mobile apps for both iOS and Android.
Ghostery sits next to the address bar of Firefox and Chrome, but is kept in the options menu in Edge. The differences between versions stop there. Ghostery stays consistent across all platforms, and when the extension is clicked, it brings down the Ghostery menu where you can view how many elements are being blocked, what they are and even select which ones out of the list you want blocked.
At any time, Ghostery users can change between trusting and restricting a site. Trusting a site basically whitelists it, allowing all ads and popups through, while restricting it blocks all ads, popups and malware. This works well and takes effect instantly, blocking or revealing content across the web page.
Clicking the options button in Ghostery opens up a drop-down menu with links to settings and advanced blocking options where you can download specific filters provided by Ghostery if your current filters are lacking. In the same menu are links to report broken web pages, submit new trackers and get help when needed.
Opening the settings provides you with more tracking and blocking options, UI adjustments, notification settings and ways to help Ghostery improve its software. You can also log into Ghostery to sync preferences across platforms, which lets you protect your computer, phone and tablet with one consistent experience.
Ghostery offers its customers the option to opt-in to several free services: one sends tracker and web page info to Ghostery, one sends extension analytics and one is the Human Web, Ghostery’s attempt to use group data to work towards safer browsing. The Human Web collects aggregated and anonymized web data to study the Internet, find possible safety issues and cover them through Ghostery. It’s a unique feature and one that sets Ghostery apart from the competition.
While Ghostery’s handling of data isn’t the worst, it doesn’t compare to approaches from uBlock Origin or Ad Muncher, which is why we placed it as our fifth choice.
Another reason why Ghostery falls behind is its lack of malware protection. Most blockers have some type of protection, but there’s no trace of malware protection on Ghostery’s site, leading us to think otherwise. Malware protection is crucial to a good blocker.
However, even with its cons, Ghostery provides a strong blocking experience and is definitely worth your attention.
Other Reasons We Like Ghostery
Ghostery’s support website provides overview and tip videos, FAQs and several troubleshooting articles. If all else fails, users can submit a ticket.
Ghostery works smoothly yet stays customizable with a wide range of settings and filters that are bound to match your browsing style. Users are able to fit Ghostery to their needs and also help work towards a secure Internet, and that makes Ghostery a compelling option.
- Intuitive UI
- Human Web
- Collects some data
- No malware protection
Honorable Mention: Adguard
Adguard is a strong blocker, with effective blocking in your browsers as well as Internet-based programs. Adguard also works with one download, so after it’s installed you have protection across your system.
Adguard additionally has a thorough support website, with tons of content to resolve any problems and questions you may have. If you’re still having issues, you can submit a ticket, send an email or call for more help.
Unfortunately, Adguard is a paid application, which is why it didn’t make the cut for this list. If you’re interested in trying it out, be sure to take advantage of the 14-day free trial first to see if it meets your needs.
Blocking pop-ups is important for security as well as your peace of mind, and we’re certain that one of our picks will match what you’re looking for. As mentioned earlier, if safety is a major concern to you, make sure to read our VPN reviews and use on of our best zero-knowledge cloud services.
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uBlock Origin is our top pick, but if you feel otherwise be sure to let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading and feel free to browse our best cloud storage and best online backup categories for more secure services.