Five Free Ad and Tracker-Blocking Tools for Better Browsing

Ads are annoying, and they can often get in the way of what you’re viewing, especially on mobile. But there’s a more sinister aspect to the advertising and promotions tools companies use these days.

Many brands will track your browsing habits, location and other sensitive data to inform the marketers’ campaign — so much that the results can be scary. Ever browse for an item on Google or Amazon only to see an ad for it moments later on Facebook? It’s a direct result of the modern ad and tracking systems at play.

Luckily, there are ways to sever this connection and maintain your security, privacy and sanity. Using them can help prevent your data from being tracked, stolen or even shared without your consent. The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal is a perfect example of why privacy should be everyone’s concern.

Here are some tools that will help you prevent third-party trackers and ad solutions from hindering your browsing experience.

1. Ghostery

One of the newest players on the scene, Ghostery is an open-source privacy and ad-blocking tool meant for use on desktop and mobile. Once enabled, it will put the kibosh on tags and trackers by sifting through behind-the-scenes JavaScript code. The result is anonymous browsing, sans the fear of being tracked or having annoying ads glaring at you.

Ghostery is a browser extension that’s compatible with most major browsers, including Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Safari. The settings provide full control over what’s blocked and what’s allowed. Users can actually approve or deny trackers for various sites using a thumbs up or down system.

Get Ghostery | Free

2. Brave

Brave is, for all intents and purposes, Google Chrome. It’s running on the same Chromium browser foundation as Google’s popular browser, only it offers ad-blocking and eliminates tracking cookies by default.

If you feel like the built-in blocking isn’t enough, you can open a “privacy tab with Tor,” which incorporates Tor’s onion router anonymity technology. Basically, the Tor function encrypts all internet traffic and bounces it through a handful of networked computers. The process makes it extremely difficult for anyone to trace your IP and connection to its origin.

As a bonus, Brave also awards blockchain-based tokens, which you can use to “reward content creators” through micropayments.

Get Brave | Free

3. Adblock Fast

Promising up to eight times faster loading speeds, Adblock Fast is designed to block out pesky ads and content faster. The developers claim that “ad blockers have grown bloated with little-used filtering rules and features that sap their speed and hog your computer or device’s disk space, CPU cycles and memory.”

If you’ve ever used an ad-blocker before, you know this view can certainly be true. At times, these blockers are so sluggish that they actually slow down page loads.

Adblock Fast is offered as a browser extension for all major browsers, but it works on Android and iOS to help block mobile ads too.

Get Adblock Fast | Free

4. Quiet (iOS)

Quiet is more than just an ad blocker — it’s a “content blocker” exclusively for iOS and macOS. It will prevent a variety of trackers, ads and malware from running on compatible devices. It even blocks social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr. Of particular note, however, is that it stops coin miners — hidden apps that run in the background and use your computer or device’s power to mine cryptocurrencies.

Of course, by blocking most of the nasty stuff, Quiet makes Safari’s speed increase considerably, allowing for a much more convenient experience all around.

Get Quiet | Free

5. Privacy Badger

Like most other tools on this list, Privacy Badger automatically detects and blocks ads and tracking tools once installed. It actually keeps track of what sites or platforms you don’t want collecting data and prevents them from doing so. There’s an option to allow tracking on certain sites.

This tool is developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to defending civil liberties and privacy in the digital world. Privacy Badger is available as an extension for Firefox and Chrome.

Get Privacy Badger | Free

Start Blocking Now

If you’re concerned with privacy and security and you don’t already have a similar tool installed, it’s time to get one. The sooner you get a blocking extension or tool up-and-running, the more personal data and browsing habits you can protect, including those of other family members like your kids.

These days, blocking tools are essential to safely browsing the internet. Now, you can keep yourself safe no matter your goals and processes online.


Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about technology and gadgets for Motherboard, MakeUseOf and The Gadget Flow. To read more posts by Kayla, check out her blog Productivity Bytes.