There is perhaps nothing more annoying in the world of the internet today than pop-up advertisements. You know, when you’re watching stuff and a bizarre ad comes out of nowhere to get plastered on your screen?
Yeah, you all know what I’m talking about. Pop-ups are so universally hated that even the guy who invented these (Ethan Zuckerman) apologized to the world for this mess.
It’s up to you whether you want to apologize to the guy or not, but if you frequent websites that rain down a barrage of ads to visitors, at least show yourself some mercy and use a free ad-blocker service.
There are tons and tons of ad-blockers out there that you can easily use as an add-on with most modern browsers, but the list below consists of some of the best tools for taking care of the menace that is a pop-up advertisement.
Free Ad Blockers for 2021
Some of the best free ad blockers for browsers you can use in 2021 are:
1. AdBlock Plus (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)
Adblock Plus is a free browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. There is a lot of filter setting that you can use to allow ads on your preferred websites and block on others, or you can simply block all ads across the table. Adblock Plus allows non-intrusive advertising since many websites depend on these ads for revenue. However, you can disable these ads too through this blocker.
2. AdBlock (Opera, Chrome, Safari)
This AdBlock is not related to the one mentioned above. AdBlock works as an extension for Safari, Opera, and Chrome. It comes with a pre-defined list of websites whose ads it can block by default. Unlike AdBlock Plus, users cannot block unobtrusive ads that are necessary to support websites. AdBlock is also available for iPhone and works great for all supported browsers.
3. AdBlocker Ultimate (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari)
AdBlocker Ultimate offers free browser extensions for all popular browsers. It can block even the most stubborn of pop-up ads and has no affiliation with any advertisement company. In addition, AdBlocker Ultimate is also effective in blocking some known forms of adware and malware. I would recommend this simple but powerful blocker for users seeking an easy and quick fix to the problem of ads.
4. uBlock Origin (Firefox, Chrome, Safari)
uBlock Origin is a simple and free ad blocker that is available for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. It is one of the lightest ab blockers, as it demands very little resources to work. It is pre-loaded with filters for ads, but you can’t create your own filter as easily in this blocker as you can for others. That is one of the downsides of uBlock Origin.
5. Firefox Focus
Firefox Focus is a mobile browser that comes pre-built with ad-blockers and anti-tracking features. This browser is not only great at killing ads but also improves user privacy by clearing cookies and history. It allows users the ability to block social trackers and has a stealth mode for superior privacy.
6. 1Blocker (iOS)
1Blocker is a blocker app for iOS that offers users a lot of customizable options to filter ads. It consists of an editable whitelist and also provides the option to turn off social media widgets and ads. However, the free version of this ad can only be used to block one type of content (widgets, ads, etc.). For complete blocking control, you will have to purchase the premium version of the app.
7. HTTPS Everywhere (Firefox, Opera, Chrome)
HTTPS Everywhere is basically an encryption add-on that secures your browsing data. This is great for protecting your privacy. It works by redirecting users to HTTPS versions of websites when it exists, allowing users to avoid the less secure HTTP versions which are easier for hackers to crack and leave malware. However, HTTPS Everywhere does not itself perform any blocking or privacy-enhancement feature; it only redirects users to safe versions of websites.
8. Ghostery (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari)
9. Privacy Badger (Firefox, Chrome)
Privacy Badger is particularly effective for blocking trackers of your online activities. This tool has sophisticated algorithms for keeping your privacy maintained on the web, but it is not a specialist adblocker. Nonetheless, it can still block ads to an extent, but don’t expect the same blocking capabilities as tools like AdBlocker Plus.
10. Disconnect (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari)
The ‘Disconnect’ is another blocker that is not primarily used for blocking ads since its main features are disabling tracking cookies and pixels. However, since these tracking tools are commonly used by advertisers, Disconnect keeps your data safe from getting into the wrong hands. It comes packed with blacklists and whitelists which you can use to keep advertisers at bay.
Benefits of Using an Ad Blocker for Your Browser
There are four important ways in which AdBlocker protect your data while you are surfing the web:
1. Avoid malware infection
Ads often carry malware that not only threatens your data but can also infect your device. This malware can inject itself into your system as soon as a malicious pop-up opens. A good ad blocker for your browser stops pop-ups from opening at all, just eliminating the possibility of malware injection.
2. Prevent tracking on your online activity
Ads sometimes leave trackers in your browser that can track your browsing history and general online activity. This information is then used by advertisers to learn more about your preferences so they can post relevant ads to you and boost their sales. Ad blockers can disable these trackers to boost your privacy.
3. Prevent the browser from crashing
Have you ever clicked within an opened web page and found yourself bombarded by a flurry of pop-up ads, causing your device to hang up and/or your browser to crash. Suffice to say, it’s a mess. An ad-blocker stops this from happening, because of its ad-blocking effect.
4. Save yourself from unnecessary annoyance
Let’s face it: even when a pop-up ad is malware-free, it’s still just plain annoying when an absurd colorful ad opens up in your face, disrupting whatever it is that you were doing. Ad blockers make sure that you don’t have to experience the torture of constantly opening pop-up ads.
Google’s Crackdown on Ad Blockers
Earlier in 2018, Google removed a number of ad blockers from the Chrome store, as many of these were tracking user activities and even compromising the security of their systems. More than 20 million users had installed these blocker extensions in Google Chrome.
This was a much-needed step taken by Google, as it cleared the Chrome Store from a lot of the junk that was growing freely within. Nonetheless, the fact that many malicious apps were available in the Chrome Store shows that you have to be very careful when installing ad-blockers, as you could do more harm than good if you install an illegitimate app.
How Pop-up Ads First Came to Be
The story goes like this:
The inventor of the pop-up ads, Zuckerman, worked for a website, Tripod.com, which became a webpage-hosting service. The website tried different business models to generate revenue which included launching a subscription service, merchandise, and a magazine.
However, the model that seemed to work most effectively for the website was… you guessed it: advertising. But there was a challenge:
Tripod.com had to come up with a way to show ads on the website without implying an association between the advertised brand and the content on the page. This led to the idea that the ads should open in a new pop-up window, as that would eliminate the possibility of an association being inferred between the ad and the page’s content.
The end result: the notorious pop-up ads, driving every Internet user since that day virtually insane.
Thankfully, developers were nice enough to come up with the antidote to the plague of pop-up ads in the form of Ad-Blocker software.
Pop-up advertisements are a migraine-inducing nuisance that every Internet user has had the misfortune to experience. Fortunately, today we have quite a few reliable and free ad-blocker software that prevent pop-ups from opening in your browser and potentially infecting your system. If you’ve had enough of pop-up ads, as I have, then do take a look at the Ad-Blockers listed above.