Ask anyone what the first extension to install on a web browser should be, and they will probably say it’s an ad blocker. We wouldn’t blame them, either, since lately ads seem to be on every website you visit. To some extent, we understand — websites need to make money from somewhere.
On the other hand, ads suck, so you should install one of the best ad blockers.
- Using ad blockers is a must if you want to enjoy websites’ content without annoying pop-ups and huge ads that take up your entire screen.
- If you want to get the best possible ad blocking browser extension, uBlock Origin is the one to go for, with configurable filter lists and a completely free, open-source approach.
- Adblock, Adblock Plus and Adblocker for YouTube aren’t the same ad blocking browser extension. They all do an excellent job, though without uBlock Origin’s configurability.
Being able to browse the internet uninterrupted, watching videos without them pausing every few minutes for a 30-second ad, and not worrying about accidentally clicking on a pop-up are all things an ad blocker promises. That being said, picking the best ad blocker out of so many options is easier said than done.
We did the research and testing and came up with the following list of ad blockers that everyone should take a look at. uBlock Origin took the title for the best ad blocker, but the competition is definitely fierce. Read on to see what the best ad blockers are, both as browser extensions and stand-alone apps.
05/01/2022 Facts checked
Since our original article, we’ve updated the list of ad blockers with some new additions and reorganized the list slightly.
Updated Windscribe pricing: the paid plan increased to $5.75 per month from $4.08. The Build-a-Plan minimum purchase also increased to $3 from $2.
What Makes the Best Ad Blockers?
When creating this list, we looked at three main things: how effective the ad blocker is, how configurable it is and how easy to use it is. The one ad blocker that ticked all three boxes with zero compromises is uBlock Origin, but a few others got very close. Without further ado, here’s the list.
- uBlock Origin — Extremely effective and easily configurable extension
- Adblock Plus — Free, open source extension for desktop and mobile
- AdBlock — Excellent free extension with a clean, simple UI
- Ghostery — Complete privacy suite with ad and tracker blocking
- R.O.B.E.R.T. from Windscribe — Ad and tracker blocker that comes with Windscribe VPN
- Adblocker for YouTube — Free extension for blocking video ads on YouTube
- uBlocker — Simple ad blocking extension with malware and virus protection
- AdGuard — Full-fledged, stand-alone ad blocking app for desktop and mobile
Any of these options will block ads without a second thought, but they’re not all the same. uBlock Origin, for example, works on all types of ads, whereas Adblocker for YouTube blocks autoplay video ads only. Let’s take a closer look so you can see which of these options is the right one to block ads and trackers on your device.
The 8 Best Ad Blockers
Now that you know what ad blockers do and how we created our list, let’s examine the best solutions for blocking ads online.
1. uBlock Origin
More information about uBlock Origin:
- Pricing: Free
- Website: ublockorigin.com
- Light on system resources
- Very easily configurable
- Simple to use
If you’re looking for a browser extension that blocks ads without hogging your system resources, uBlock Origin is just perfect. This is a lightweight extension for Chrome, Edge and Firefox that does wonders at blocking ads and trackers on web pages.
This open source extension has predefined filter lists that block most unwanted ads, but there’s also the option to create your own list if you encounter annoying ads that aren’t covered. When you factor in that you’re getting all of this with a free extension that works on all major browsers, the top spot on our list is well deserved.
2. Adblock Plus
More information about Adblock Plus:
- Pricing: Free
- Website: adblockplus.org
- Easy disable options
- Overview of blocked ads
- Acceptable ads are allowed by default
Adblock Plus is a commonly recommended way to deal with everything from malicious ads injected with malware to text and banner ads, and it’s easy to see why. The browser extension is remarkably easy to use, with toggles that allow you to enable or disable it per website or per page.
You also get an overview of how many ads the extension has blocked on the page you’re on, and how many it has blocked in total since you installed it. This is one of the top free ad blockers out there, and our only nitpick is the fact that acceptable ads aren’t disabled by default. These ads are respectful rather than intrusive, and labeled as ads, so this might not be an issue for some.
More information about AdBlock:
- Pricing: Free
- Website: getadblock.com
- Easy to use UI
- Blocks ads, trackers & pop-ups
- Acceptable ads are allowed by default
Not to be confused with AdBlock Plus, AdBlock is a very simple and straightforward extension that offers ad blocking features, and it works admirably. The user interface is as simple as they come, with the option to pause the extension on the website you’re on — useful if a website won’t let you access it with such an extension enabled.
In addition to regular ads, AdBlock is also great at blocking pop-ups and trackers, and allows you to block floating videos as well. The only downside is that the extension is configured to allow acceptable ads by default. Acceptable ads are clearly labeled and usually not intrusive, but we still wish this wasn’t the default setting.
More information about Ghostery:
- Pricing: Free; $4.99 per month or $47.88 per year
- Website: ghostery.com
- Insights into websites
- Built-in tracker blocker
- Private search engine
- Expensive, even on the yearly plan
Ghostery takes things a step further by being a complete privacy extension, preventing pop-ups and trackers from pestering you while you’re browsing. It does a great job with all types of ads, including expanding ads, which many ad blockers aren’t particularly good with.
While Ghostery can be considered one of the free browser extensions on our list, it’s the admittedly expensive paid plan that gets you all the nice things: detailed insights, real-time analytics and a private replacement for your default search engine. If you’re willing to pay, it’s certainly one to consider.
5. R.O.B.E.R.T. From Windscribe
More information about R.O.B.E.R.T.:
- Pricing: Free; $1 per location for the build-a-plan option, $9 per month or $69 per year for the Pro plan
- Website: windscribe.com
- Comes with a good VPN
- Built-in malware protection
- Block lists by categories
- Free plan only allows for 3 custom rules
Windscribe topped the list of best free VPNs easily. In our Windscribe review we mentioned R.O.B.E.R.T., a built-in ad and tracker blocker that does a great job at blocking annoying ads (such as Twitch ads). The custom rules allow you to configure which ads to allow and which ones to block, adding some customization to the blocker.
R.O.B.E.R.T. comes with all Windscribe plans, although the free plan will only allow you to add three custom online ads rules. It will, however, help with blocking overlay ads and avoid spyware-infected ads as well. If you’re already using Windscribe, R.O.B.E.R.T. is a worthy addition, though we aren’t sure we would go out of our way to get it as a stand-alone product.
6. Adblocker for YouTube
More information about Adblocker for YouTube:
- Pricing: Free
- Website: Adblocker for YouTube on the Chrome Web Store
- Very light on resources
- Plays video in floating mode
- Only blocks ads on YouTube
- No configurability at all
Adblocker for YouTube, as its name might suggest, is an ad blocker dedicated to blocking video ads on YouTube. Well, that and it also lets you increase the video’s volume up to 600% and play it in floating mode anywhere on your desktop. Unfortunately, that’s about it, but if you combine it with other ad blockers, or you only need one for YouTube, it does a great job.
More information about uBlocker:
- Pricing: Free
- Website: uBlocker on the Chrome Web Store
- Incredibly simple to use
- Blocks trackers, malware & viruses
- Lacks configurability
uBlocker may not be a common name, but if you’re after a simple, no-fuss ad blocking extension, it’s a strong contender. It blocks all kinds of ads, as well as malware and viruses, and comes with a clean, minimalist UI. The downside is that it lacks configurability, but if you aren’t one to tinker with settings, that might not be a problem.
More information about AdGuard:
- Pricing: $2.49 per month on a yearly plan
- Website: adguard.com
- Full-fledged desktop app
- Parental control
- Can hide your IP address
- No free plan
AdGuard isn’t only a browser extension, but also a full-fledged app for both desktop and mobile operating systems. It does a lot, thanks to a built-in ad blocker, parental control module and a privacy module that uses a proxy to hide your IP address (though we have 10 better options for that).
If you want an all-in-one solution and don’t mind paying for it, AdGuard is a solid choice. It didn’t make it onto our list of best VPNs with ad-blocker, but it gets the job done. You can read our AdGuard VPN review to learn more about the virtual private network.
Installing an ad blocker on your web browser is the only way to enjoy a browsing experience free from annoying ads and pop-ups. The best ad blockers let you enjoy the content of the websites you’re visiting.
If you want one extension that does everything, uBlock Origin would be our pick, but if it’s not your cup of tea, you can’t go wrong with any of our alternatives. If you’re seeking to avoid promotions specifically for Chrome, check out our guide on how to block ads on Chrome. We also have articles that look into preventing ads on mobile devices such as Android.
Which ad blocker is your favorite from the list? Do you go for uBlock Origin’s extensive configurability, or do you prefer the simple approach of Adblock and AdLock? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading.