Ad blockers are a quintessential part of everyone’s online privacy, but sadly enough, some people forgot ad blockers completely. I think that ad blockers are a digital staple, and should always be in conjunction with other primary privacy and anonymity tools. This along with a complete antivirus package and a VPN.
But most people don’t know that ad blockers help protect privacy. Instead, many people incorrectly assume that ad blockers only exist to help stop those annoying pop-ups from filling your screen and crashing your browser with odd scripts.
It is true that ad blockers help thwart pop-ups from inundating you with hundreds of annoying and sketchy offers. Additionally, they can help stop interruptions in your favorite streaming video and multimedia content, such as ads that interrupt YouTube videos. Furthermore, ad blockers eliminate advertisements that we can typically find in free software. Many companies turn to selling advertising space to help monetize their free software downloads.
But two other crucial benefits aren’t obvious. First of all, ad blocking plugins and extensions can help increase performance on your laptop or mobile device. By stopping an ad from loading, a web page needs less bandwidth to load, and scripts are prevented from executing that would otherwise waste valuable space in RAM and CPU cycles.
In fact, you can even use Adblock to prevent message recipients on Facebook from knowing whether or not you have ‘seen’ their message. Instead of a utility purely designed to stop ads from popping up, you can use them as a filter to block communication with different website components. Ad blockers even act as a security tool because they can be used to filter malicious domains as well.
Today we’re making a comparison of two of the leading ad-blocking utilities: Ublock vs. Adblock. So, let’s get started with a price comparison!
The pricing comparison is going to be somewhat dull and anticlimactic because both utilities are open source. Also, are protected under the GNU General Public License. How do these utilities support themselves, you ask? Well, quite a lot like Wikipedia – they are supported by contributions from their users. If you’re feeling generous and want to keep them running, you can contribute to either browser extension.
Unlike the majority of other types of software, both Ublock and Adblock are web browser extensions. This means they are, for the most part, operating system independent. Instead, they processed through your web browser, so as long as your operating system can run a browser that they support, you can use either ad blocker. I suppose the only exceptional operating systems that couldn’t run these plugins would be command line interfaces, like some archaic varieties of Linux and Unix, but in those scenarios, a web browser wouldn’t be the primary concern.
The following outlines the platforms on which Adblock is available:
- Internet Explorer
- Microsoft Edge
The following outlines the platforms on which Ublock Origin is available:
- Microsoft Edge
Overall, Adblock is much more versatile because it supports more browser platforms than Ublock. I was surprised that Ublock’s Safari extension was still in Beta. Again, I must admit, both ad blocking solutions cover all the important basis, and can both accommodate the vast majority of users.
Ublock Origin is often confused with Ublock.org, and it seems there has been a bitter battle between the two due to confusion from customers thinking they’re simply different versions of the same product. Unfortunately, since Ublock Origin is an extension that’s free to use like Adblock, it doesn’t have a full website as you might expect with another software service, such as a VPN tunnel.
At any rate, the first feature I wanted to discuss was the extension’s interface in the browser. Just by clicking on the button, you can enable or disable the plugin for a website, which is excellent because some sites won’t load if they detect you are using an ad blocker. The button makes it a snap to toggle the ad blocker on or off without having to dig through long and tedious menus. Furthermore, note that the software can both create and read data from hosts files, but it does come preloaded with a ton of different lists of harmful websites and domains to block.
Among the preinstalled lists of websites, there are ad blockers as well as lists of malware domains to prevent a malicious script or virus from infecting your computer. But you’re not limited to the files that are preinstalled. In fact, there are complete libraries of other lists to choose from. However, do note that the more lists you have actively configured with cause the ad blocker to use more CPU and memory. That said, it was designed to have as small an impact on system performance as possible.
And if you use it as out-of-the-box, I doubt anyone is going to have any problems or even notice the slightest change in system performance. If, however, you’re using a computer that’s three or four generations old and can hardly run a web browser without crashing, then perhaps you’ll notice performance differences. At any rate, Ublock Origin provides a highly streamlined set of features to help prevent ads, ad tracking, and malware from harming your computer.
In summary, the following outline Ublock Origin’s features:
- One-click button to permanently enable or disable Ublock on a specific page
- Can read and create filters from host files
- Includes filters by default, including EasyList, Peter Lowe’s Ad server list, Easy Privacy and a list of malware domains
- Other lists are available for download, including Fanboy’s Enhanced Tracking List, Dan Pollock’s hosts file, MVPS HOSTS and Spam404 among others
- Small resource consumption fingerprint, very light use of memory and CPU
- Free to use, protected under GPLv3
Adblock also has a great set of features, with the primary functionality being the ability to block advertisements. But I have personally used Adblock for a different scenario: blocking social media updates. Social media sites like Facebook communicate with various components of websites to send status updates and alerts to others in your social network. But what if those updates were undesirable, and I didn’t other people receiving those updates because I wanted to protect my privacy?
For example, I find it irritating if a friend relentlessly pesters me for an answer in a text chat after they have received the “seen” notification. What if I’m at work or otherwise busy, and had time to read the message but respond to it? What if some crazy person contacts me, and I don’t want to have anything to do with a person, let alone speak with them? Fortunately, I can use Adblock to prevent the “seen” message in Facebook chats from being sent.
How is Adblock different…
Like Ublock Origin, Adblock comes with a ton of preinstalled lists as well, including EastList and a ton of international and multilingual filters. And like Ublock, the default Adblock filters are well adept at blocking pop-up windows, banner advertisements, and the stray malware domain from invading your device, wreaking havoc and slowing things down. However, note that the defaults setting is to allow non-intrusive advertising (those that don’t interrupt your content or pop-up to block your screen).
It also can disable the social media share buttons, such as those that appear on the tops, sides, and bottoms of most web pages in an effort to get visitors to share their content for free. Personally, I don’t find them all that annoying and like having the social media buttons so I can share interesting posts and articles with my friends. But to each their own, and you can disable it if you want to.
And last but not least, do note that you have the power to black-list individual websites and domains at your own discretion. This is handy if you noticed that you’d been accidentally fooled into landing on a phishing page or a domain kept redirecting you to another site that was undesirable.
In summary, the following outlines Adblock’s features:
- Can be used to prevent Facebook message recipients from knowing whether you have ‘seen’ a message
- Blocks banner advertisements, pop-up windows, and online ad tracking
- Can block malware and malicious domains
- Users can configure what types of ads are blocked, and which are permitted
- By default, non-intrusive ads are permitted
- Disables social media share buttons on websites
- Can block domains at your own discretion with a feature that essentially functions as a personal ‘black-list.’
Open Source Considerations
As I said before, both Adblock and Ublock are open source utilities. What ‘open source’ means is that the source code is available and made public, which is a massive security benefit.
Since it is open source, this means it can be downloaded, viewed and audited by anyone. Also, open source utilities can be reviewed by third-party security organizations. They ensure that the software doesn’t contain any malicious code, tracking software or other security risks.
Closed source software, on the other hand, is under wraps to protect proprietary intellectual property. For example, the source code of Microsoft Windows operating system is closed source, unlike Linux, which is also open source. The problem with closed source software is that the public has no idea how it works and functions under the hood, leading to a lot of scary security concerns. For instance, note that Microsoft has conspired with the federal US government in the past to comply with the NSA, and wrote code that essentially spied on US citizens. Fortunately, neither of these ad blocking utilities have these security problems.
So, which one was better? Well, I first have to say that both of these free plugins are pretty darn near the same. However, despite them being so similar, I prefer Adblock over Ublock Origin. The bottom line is that either plugin is going to be able to block ads just as well as the other. The real key here is realizing that it’s the lists that determine the quality of ad blocking service. Thus, as long as a particular list is available on both extensions, they’ll perform more or less the same.
That said, I think Adblock has better documentation and guides that detail the steps needed to block social media updates. And I think that the Adblock interface is more straightforward, cleaner and more attractive. Lastly, note that Ublock Origin isn’t wrong by any means, but I’d recommend checking into Adblock first.