When you open a page on the web, you will see different kinds of ads populating the web page like banners, pop-ups, side ads, and video ads. Close one and the other pop-ups!
There are a lot of ad blockers on the app store but we don’t recommend using one because these apps track user’s online activities and sell data to advertisers. Did you know, in 2018 Google removed hundreds of ad blockers from its Chrome Store because they were found planting trackers on user’s devices!
What you can do is use an ad-blocking VPN to block ads safely. There are not many VPNs out there with ad-blocking features, but after extensive testing, we bring you the 3 best ad block VPNs in the market with “working” ad blockers.
3 Best VPNs for Blocking Ads (June 2021)
Surfshark is our top recommended VPN with an ad blocker called CleanWeb. During testing, I found out that it blocked banner ads and even video ads on the side on both desktops and mobile phones.
Surfshark has a database of over 1 million websites that are infected with malware, and as you click on one, it warns you about it and blocks the content from loading. This is extremely useful if you are into torrenting, as torrenting websites constantly get shut down and are replaced with sites that contain malware. With Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature, you will only access legitimate P2P sites.
Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature is turned off by default when you log in. Therefore, when you connect to a server, don’t forget to enable the feature manually. To do that, just go to the “Features” tab, and turn the CleanWeb feature on. Once you turn it on, you will see immediate results – no popups and annoying ads anymore. You can check Surfshark review for more details.
Surfshark is another top VPN in the market with an ad-blocking ability. It comes with a feature called CyberSec that not only blocks ads but also protects the user’s from phishing attacks and malware sites. It is one of the best ad blockers in the market.
NordVPN maintains the data of malicious websites so when you click on one, its CyberSec feature prevents it from loading. Therefore, if you try to open a site that is infected with malware, NordVPN will display a warning message and block that site from accessing your data thus protecting your online security.
During testing, CyberSec successfully filtered so many pop-ups and side ads on Buzzfeed’s home screen thus giving a cleaner webpage and faster too. Apart from its browser extension, I also tested this feature on iOS, Android, and Windows devices and was impressed by the results. You can also check out our NordVPN review for more details.
Private Internet Access (PIA) is another premium VPN offering a built-in ad blocker called MACE. MACE successfully blocks ads, banners, on all devices including browsers. Just like NordVPN and Surfshark, MACE also maintains a database of ad servers that have been flagged before for sharing malware. It prevents such sites from loading.
During testing, PIA blocked ads on desktop and mobile devices, but keep in mind that you need to download the .apk for Android from PIA’s official website because the app store version doesn’t include an ad blocker. We found this very odd, but now you know how to get this feature.
Another interesting thing is that MACE does not work on iOS. After contacting customer support, I found that PIA removed this ad-blocking feature from its app for iPhones in 2018. But, don’t worry, it was replaced with a Safari Content Blocker and it effectively blocks ads on iPhones.
PIA’s ad blocker is effective but it is not as efficient as NordVPNs CyberSec, and Surfshark’s CleanWeb, because it is somewhat limited in terms of functionality. For example, MACE simply stops the browser from making a tracking request when it finds a malicious website without any additional steps.
It’s not a big issue but it is a limitation when compared to the adblocking VPNs mentioned above. Users on Reddit have also complained that the PIA ad-blocking feature causes serious battery drain so that is also something you should consider. PIA reviewYou can check out our for more details.
How Ads Track Your Online Activities and Why It’s Dangerous
You must have noticed that at times, ads start tracing you as you search for something online. For example, if you search for blue party dresses, you will start seeing targeted ads for blue dresses. Well, that’s because ads use different techniques to track your online activities. Here are the three most popular ways ads track online activities:
1. Tracking Cookies
A cookie is a file that is your browser. It contains a user ID, session ID, and other useful information. It helps sites function properly and it also saves your password and other details so you don’t have to do repeat basic tasks for sites that you visit most often. Cookies are unique for each website – meaning, they can only be read by the website they belong to.
Websites download cookies on your browser, but they also download cookies from advertisers that you don’t know about. The cookie can then be read by any website that contains ads from that advertiser. This way they can see what you search for online and other online activities.
2. Tracking Pixels
A tracking pixel is a relatively newer way to track user’s online activities. It is a small one-pixel dot or an object that is inserted into a website or in the HTML code of the email. It contains a code that is triggered as soon as the user clicks on the mail or the website.
The tracking pixel gives each user a unique ID and tracks online activities, the device you use, your browser, your location, and the websites you visit. That’s a lot of information!
3. Browser fingerprinting
Last, but not least, we have another technique used by browsers to log data called browser fingerprinting. This technique is used to log a lot of useful information like the type of browser you use, plugins installed, language, operating systems, and more. This information may sound generic but it is the key to identifying you. Because it allows ads to follow you online everywhere you go online.
Are third-party Adblockers safe to use?
No, we don’t recommend using third-party ad blockers because unlike VPNs they log user data. A VPN with an ad blocker offers security that third-party programs don’t. VPNs with ad blockers not only protect you from trackers, malware and advertisers but also secure your online traffic.
A VPN encrypts your online traffic and masks your real IP address which prevents hackers, advertisers, and your ISP from knowing your real location, identity, and online activities. No ad blocker offers these security and privacy features. When you enable the VPN, it automatically blocks ads.
That said, other types of third-party ad blockers are limited and they don’t provide the security that a VPN does.
How to Choose the Best VPN With an Ad Blocker
The VPNs mentioned above are the safest options in the market with built-in ad blockers. But keep in mind not all VPNs with an ad blocker are safe. So, here are some important considerations when you are choosing the best VPN with an ad blocker:
- Make sure the ad blocker offered by the VPN actually works and is not a scam.
- Look for a VPN that also offers malware detection so you can be protected from ads that install malicious apps on your device.
- Make sure the VPN you choose is compatible with a wide range of devices and allows simultaneous connections so you can protect multiple devices at the same time.
- Verify its money-back guarantee so you can try the VPN before actually buying it.
VPNs to avoid with fake ad blockers
There are tons of VPNs in the market with fake ad blockers that don’t work at all. Here are some services that you should avoid using:
- PureVPN is a good VPN service, but it claims to have an ad blocker, but it doesn’t work and you cannot find it in the app either. When contacted customer support, they confirmed that they don’t have one. So, they are knowingly spreading false information about their service.
- HolaVPN supposedly offers an ad blocker in its browser extension but we don’t recommend using it because in 2015 it was found selling user data and unused bandwidth to botnets thus giving hackers access to user’s IP addresses.
Can I use a free VPN with an ad blocker?
You might be able to find a free VPN with ad blockers or free ad-blocking tools online but we don’t recommend using one because of safety issues and performance limitations.
Most free VPNs log user’s online activities and sell their private data to advertisers. This is a clear violation of the user’s right to privacy as you will be subjected to targeted ads. Even if you do find a free VPN with an ad blocker, it will come with performance issues. For example, most free VPNs limit free data to a maximum of 10 GB per month and they also offer limited servers. Therefore, you will get extremely slow speeds which will make the VPN useless.
Similarly, most free Ad-blockers also don’t protect your data online like a VPN. Therefore, we recommend sticking to top-tier VPNs with adblockers like Surfhark. You can try Surfshark free for 30 days using its money-back guarantee and enjoy an ad-free browsing experience.
How can I install a VPN with an ad blocker?
The best VPNs with ad blockers are easy to install on a wide range of devices. Follow these steps to install a VPN with an Ab Blocker:
FAQ: Ad Blocker VPNs
After testing these VPNs, we recommend Surfshark as the best VPN with an ad blocker for Android and iPhone devices. The mobile apps of Surfshark contain the CleanWeb feature, unlike most VPNs that offer limited features for the mobile apps.
Surfshark is the best VPN with adblocker that works on all major browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and other browsers. During testing, its CleanWeb feature effectively blocked ads on these browsers including Microsoft Edge.
It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try Surfshark’s CleanWeb ad blocker free for 30 days. If you don’t like the service, you can cancel and get a refund.
Unfortunately, VPNs cannot help you block ads on Hulu because Hulu has advanced VPN detection features and it prevents it from disabling ads on the site. You can access Hulu with VPNs but cannot disable ads. During testing, we were able to bypass geo-restrictions and access Hulu, but its adblocker was of no help.
However, you don’t have to worry about Hulu ads, as it is legitimate like YouTube, so it won’t harm your device. You just need to sit through commercials.
No, ExpressVPN doesn’t have an in-built ad blocker. But you can use third-party adblockers with it if you want. ExpressVPN recommends some ad blockers that are safe to use. Or you can use Surfshark that has its own ad blocker.
Block intrusive ads with a VPN
The internet is getting cluttered with intrusive ads, trackers, and all sorts of malware and pop-ups. Go to any website, and your screen will be cluttered with ads everywhere in the background, which is not only distracting but also annoying. In this fight against advertisers, using a VPN with an ad-blocking feature is the only secure option we have.
Unlike third-party ad-blockers, VPNs don’t log any user activity so when you are online, your data will be secured without any privacy issues. The three VPN features above have powerful ad blocking and act as a great defense against annoying ads. Good luck!