The Best Ad Blockers for Major Browsers & Mobile in 2021
Pop-ups aren’t just annoying, they can actually be dangerous. Some contain malware, spyware, or links to malicious websites, leading to your device becoming infected. Others help advertising companies to track what you’re up to online and build profiles that many people find intrusive. Plus, pop-up ads, especially videos set to autoplay, can burn through a lot of data, or slow down website load times.
The good news is that there are tons of ad block extensions and ad options out there to help you get rid of them. The bad news is that, while some are great, others are not. In fact, the worst of these may actually spy on you, block things you need, or make website performance even worse.
That’s why it’s important to choose the best ad block technology. Read on to learn which ones we recommend and why.
The Best Ad Blockers at the Glance
Here’s our rundown of the 6 best ad block apps and extensions. Pay close attention, because a lot of the options out there have very similar names!
|CyberSec||The best overall ad blocker, which comes built-in to NordVPN||Starting from $3.71||Visit Cybersec|
|Stands: The Fair AdBlocker||A lightweight tool tailor-made for Chrome||Free||Visit Stands|
|AdBlock||The top free ad block tool that’s ideal for Safari||Pay As You Please||Visit Adblock|
|Adlock||A powerful ad blocker for Android||Starting from: $1.03||Visit Adlock|
|Wipr||The best ad blocker for iOS||Starting from: $1.99||Visit Wipr|
|Firefox Focus||A privacy-enhancing ad blocker for Firefox||Free||Visit Firefox Focus|
How to Choose the Best Ad Blocker
There are quite a few things to bear in mind when choosing an ad blocker. On a basic level, you need to choose one that actually works with whatever device and browser you use to access the internet. If you use multiple platforms, look out for one that works on all of them. Most of the top options will cover quite a few bases.
Secondly, if you’re primarily worried about privacy, make sure the ad blocker you choose shares your concerns. Watch out for any that sell, track, or harvest your data for their own purposes. It’s worth being extra-cautious when it comes to free options. After all, why would the developers give this away for nothing unless they had another motive?
The Best Ad Block Extensions Available Now
1. CyberSec – Best Overall (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Windows, MacOs, iOS, Android)
CyberSec is the adblocker tool included in a subscription to the VPN by NordVPN. Using an adblocker in conjunction with a VPN is a good idea because you don’t have to worry about the motivations of the company (if you’re paying for the VPN anyway) – and, if it’s a top VPN provider with a robust no-logs policy and state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption, you can be sure that your privacy is thoroughly protected, too. NordVPN is one of the best VPNs around, so that’s already a big plus.
But on its own merits, too, CyberSec really stands out. It blocks all irritating ads, including auto-play videos and pop-ups, helping to speed up browsing and extend device battery life. In fact, it even stops your YouTube videos from being interrupted for ad plays. Plus, it scans each and every website and is great at identifying and blocking access to malicious sites that are known to host malware or phishing scams. It also helps to protect you from DDoS attacks.
And CyberSec is really versatile, too. It works with all major browsers, on Mac and Windows, and on mobile. Plus, NordVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, just in case you’re not convinced.
Please Note: The fully-featured ad-block is still available in the .apk version of the Android app. You can download it from the NordVPN website, here.
Price: Starting from $3.71/month
2. Stands Fair AdBlocker – Best Ad Blocker for Chrome
A great option for Chrome users that won’t slow down your browsing is the Stands’ The Fair Adblocker. You can choose to block pop-ups, auto-play video ads, expanding ads, YouTube ads, Facebook ads and many other types as you see fit. This will prevent you from being tracked and strip out lots of annoying interruptions. It’s also very lightweight.
However, bear in mind that Stands encourages you not to block all ads – just the ones that go too far. It gives you plenty of ways to allow certain ads or whitelist certain ad-supported websites. The idea is to preserve your privacy while helping sites that offer free content to remain free.
3. AdBlock – Best Ad Blocker for Safari
AdBlock is a highly popular and very effective ad blocker that works on pretty much every device and has an ad block extension for most browsers. However, it’s a particularly good choice for Safari thanks to its ease of installation and the dedicated Safari AdBlock Plus app for iOS devices.
AdBlock is also really easy to set up on just about any device, blocking pesky pop-ups, banners and video ads. You can choose from pre-set lists that help you to block most types of ads, block malware, and filter social media buttons. Note that the default setting allows “non-intrusive” ads rather than applying a blanket block on all types of ads. However, you can change the settings yourself, disabling these ads, adding customer filters according to what you need – and can sync your customizations across multiple devices. This includes the ability to whitelist certain sites – which is great if you still want to support your favorite free-to-access news or other sites that rely on ad revenue to survive.
The company does also collect usage data and logs but says that it anonymizes IP addresses and deletes the logs after 90 days. It doesn’t sell user data to advertisers or third parties.
There’s a caveat, though. AdBlock is free to use, but ironically makes its money by taking a cut of the “Acceptable Ads Program” – i.e. the ads deemed “non-harmful” the system lets through by default (unless you change your settings) as well as through donations from users. Some people aren’t exactly impressed that they’ve embraced an ad revenue model. In fact, AdBlock Plus, a rival company that actually came up with the Acceptable Ads Program, has been roundly criticized for taking payment from Google and other advertisers to have their ads included.
Price: Pay As You Please
The Best Ad Blocking Mobile Apps
1. AdLock – Best Ad Blocker for Android
At $11 per year for Android devices and $22 for Windows, AdLock is pricier than other standalone tools, but it is very effective. That’s because it doesn’t work by blocking ads via the browser only. Rather, it’s a separate app that ticks along quietly in the background, interacting with all your browser windows and internet-connected apps. This allows it to block ads wherever they appear, even embedded in games or when you’re using Skype.
This is great for getting rid of unwanted ads that get in the way, cause distractions or gobble up all your data. AdLock also provides tools for safe browsing, blocking malicious URLs.
However, the only downside is that Google really doesn’t want you to be able to block ads, so it’s not available in the Google Play store. That means you’ll need to allow your mobile device to install apps from unknown sources, by opening up Settings > Security/Applications > Unknown Sources and checking the box. Then, download AdLock from the official site. Don’t forget to change your settings back after you’re done for security reasons!
Price: Starting from $1.03/month
2. Wipr – Best Ad Blocker for iPhone / iOS
For users of Apple products and Safari browsers generally, Wipr is an excellent choice. It works on Macs and iPhone iOS operating systems and you can use it in conjunction with the Safari app on mobile and with any other apps that are based on Safari. However, it’s particularly effective on iPhones and iPads, as it creates a noticeable improvement in site performance and load speeds by blocking ads and trackers.
Wipr offers an excellent selection of features, stopping trackers, pop-ups and cryptocurrency miners in their tracks. You can even use it to stop those pesky GDPR warnings from covering your screen while you’re trying to browse. It’s also unobtrusive. You just leave it running in the background and forget about it. Excellent value all round for the $1.99 price tag.
Price: Starting from $1.99/month
3. Firefox Focus – Best for Using Firefox on Android & iOS
Mozilla has always been super privacy-conscious, so it might not be a surprise that it has created its own adblocker for Firefox browsers on mobile. It’s really worthwhile, too – it speeds up browsing, blocks annoying ads, and even clears your history and cookies automatically. You can choose whether you want to block certain types of ads, social media trackers, or web analytics tools, and you can also operate in stealth mode.
The best ad blockers provide an excellent way to improve your online experience and protect your privacy, but you need to be smart about which one you choose. If you want to be absolutely sure that the company isn’t going to sell your data or sneakily introduce a pay-to-play ad revenue model, it’s well worth paying for it.
You can choose a standalone tool, but if you want one that works across all your devices and doesn’t keep any logs on what you get up to online, consider investing in a complete VPN that includes a decent adblocker tool within it.