We’ve all been there with the bane of the Internet: pop up ads. Maybe you were trying to watch one last Youtube video on your commute to work, or squeeze one more song in during a workout? A pop up ad appears, disrupts your activity with music or flashing colors, and you wonder (hope, pray…) that there’s a different way.

You’re in luck. We’re going to break down ad blocking for you: what is an ad blocker, when and why people use ad blockers, and which ad blockers actually work as well as they claim. We’re filling you in on our top 5 ad blockers out there right now. So, keep reading to discover what is the best ad blocker.

What is Ad Blocker?

Like it says on the tin, an ad blocker stops that disruptive pop-up ad from appearing in the middle of your article. Ad blockers are also designed to stop banner ads, video ads, and even ads hidden in articles that trick you into clicking them. But first, why are there so many ads on every page you visit online?

Well, since the Internet came to be, companies have made money online by selling sections of their web pages to companies for advertisements. More recently, social media sites like Instagram and Facebook also integrate advertisements into their feeds.

But Internet users aren’t too thrilled with the increasing number of ads online. These ads can be disruptive, time-consuming and bothersome, so, years ago ad blocking rose in popularity. People use ad blockers at both work and personal computers, to control their online experience. But what is ad blocker doing, and how does it work?

What is Ad Blocker software doing?

Ad blocker usually works as a browser extension you add to your browser that stops certain media from appearing on websites.

It can also be a separate software you download that effectively filters media across all the applications on your computer.

Why do people use Ad Blocker? Should you?

Ad blockers are used for loads of reasons.

Ads affect our online experience visually, as well as our computer’s performance, security, and privacy.

Visually, these ads are distracting, ugly and disruptive of your online experience. They can be distasteful, confusing, inaccurate, or troubling. Whether you’re sharing your screen in a meeting and want to look professional, or are simply trying to unwind after work by scrolling through your social media feed. Ads that flash colors, play videos, or take up your whole screen are inconvenient and just plain annoying.

For some people, it’s more of a performance issue. Ads slow web pages by taking up bandwidth and battery life, which is especially inconvenient when trying to load videos or complete online work within a time limit.

Many people employ ad blockers for security reasons: ads pose the risk of transmitting viruses to your computer, and as we all learn the hard way – it’s easy to accidentally click on a pop up ad. There’s even a recent trend online of malware-infused advertising that damages your device without you doing anything wrong.

Considering the relentless string of privacy violation news stories that have broken over the past year, it’s no surprise that the final big reason for obtaining an ad blocker is privacy. Online users want to choose what information we give to websites or advertisers, and it’s uncomfortable to think that these ads deny us that control over our own privacy.

When do I turn off Ad Blocker?

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While there are many compelling reasons to install an ad blocker, many people selectively turn their ad blocker off.

Supporting content creators

Sometimes people want to support content producers who make their living off ads, prompting their fans or followers to turn off ad blocker in order to help them continue their work.

Viewing your favorite sites

Alternatively, some sites such as Forbes might require visitors to deactivate their ad blocker in order to view their site at all. News organizations have struggled in many ways to adjust to the digital age, and revenue is just one of these.

Most online news sites nowadays will ask you whether you wish to deactivate your ad blocker to continue viewing the site, to subscribe to weekly news, or else to leave the site. Luckily, on most browsers, you can also add certain web pages to a “white list”: a list of organizations you consent to receiving advertising from.

Controlling your digital footprint

Ad blockers increase the control you have over your digital footprint, and this works both ways. You might want certain sites or advertisers to know some of your details, to understand the demographic of consumers who value their content.

Otherwise, you might want to control who receives your advertising dollars, which you do by turning ad blocker off for certain sites you wish to support in this way.

How to choose the best Ad Blocker?

Now you know all about how ad blockers work, whether you want an ad blocker, and when you might want to turn it off. But what is the best ad blocker? And how much do they cost?

All 5 of our favorite ad blockers have a free package available, as the software is open-sourced.

For some of these ad blockers, you will see a paid subscription is available too. This provides comprehensive, customized ad blocking that has millions of people worldwide subscribing every year.

Top 5 Ad Blockers

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Adblock Plus

Free and available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari, Adblock Plus is one of the most popular ad blockers worldwide. Adblock Plus blocks a majority of ads, as well as filtering out malware.

If you’re concerned about denying certain organizations your advertising dollars, but are willing to view ads that are considerate and not too distracting, Adblock Plus might be for you, as they allow ads that meet these criteria.

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Adguard

Adguard is available on Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Yandex, and Palemoon. Adguard offers multiple services besides ad blocking: Adguard provides boosted privacy and security while online, as well as parental control options. The basic Adguard package is free, but if you want premium ad blocking services, these are available for the reasonable fees of USD2.50 per month for Premium, USD1.71 for Standard, or USD0.99 for Mobile.

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uBlock Origin

uBlock Origin is free and available on Firefox, Chrome and Safari. UBlock Origin appears with a power button symbol in your browser that allows you to easily switch off ad blocker for that particular site, which benefits those of you interested in supporting certain web pages, rather than a set white list of websites.

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Adlock

Adlock is available on Windows and Android, and is an application rather than browser extension. Because they aren’t only attached to your browser, Adlock blocks advertising across your entire computer. A one year license for Adlock costs USD20.47, and there is a 30 day money back guarantee.

This is the ad blocker for you if you dislike any ads whatsoever, use Windows or Android devices, and desire intensive control over your personal information online. They are planning an iOS Mobile release in the future, so stay tuned if you are a Mac user but like the look of Adlock.

Incognito Adblocker

Incognito Adblocker is a free extension you can add if you use Firefox, that blocks ads very effectively across your browser. Incognito stops all ads and allows for complete customization online, as you can select elements of your web page to block, and create a tailored browsing experience. Incognito is relatively new, but has made enough of an impression to make it into our list of the top 5 ad blockers.

This is the extension for you if you use Firefox and enjoy being able to tailor your ad blocking depending on the site you’re using, and the types of ads they employ.

Final thoughts

Ads can disrupt our online experience in many ways, but they can also endanger our privacy and security, or slow down our browser’s performance. By researching ad blockers, you’ve joined the tens of millions of customers online that enjoy a vacation from ads every now and then… or forever.

The next step is to think about the kind of browsing experience you desire, and explore our Top 5 list to see which of these fantastic options suits you best.

So, what is the best ad blocker? The truth is, although we numbered these ad blockers 1 to 5, there is no one best ad blocker for everyone. We hope our Top 5 list helped you find the right ad blocker for you, and that you soon have the online experience you’ve been craving – one that is completely in your control.

Good luck, and happy ad-free browsing!