The Best Adblocker Software for Android, iOS, PC and Mac

Let's be honest, ads and pop-ups are really annoying. Luckily, a good ad-blocker can help you avoid these irritating ads, so you can browse the web with freedom.

 

By simply downloading an ad-blocker, you will improve your online privacy, speed up your computer, and protect your devices from spyware. When you visit a website, your computer wastes resources by loading ads. These could be as banner ads, pop-ups, or Google placement ads. By blocking these ads, your computer can load web pages faster. Some websites also hide spyware in adverts, so blocking these will protect you.

The increasing popularity in ad-blockers means that there are hundreds of services out there. This makes it difficult to choose the best ad-blocker for your needs. Fortunately, there is something for everyone on our list of best ad-blockers around.

What are the best ad-blockers?

We have listed the best ad-blockers to use in 2021. If you want more information about each service, please continue scrolling to find out the pros and cons of each service.

  1. uBlock Origin - The best browser extension
  2. CyberSec (NordVPN) - The best VPN with an adblocker
  3. AdFender - The best desktop adblocker
  4. AdLock - The best adblocker for Android
  5. 1Blocker X - Best ad blocker for iOS

When putting together this list, there are several things that we considered. These are:

  • Effectiveness of blocking ads
  • The impact they have on your computer's memory resources
  • Are they compatible with popular browsers - e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc?

The Best ad-blocker in 2021

After testing several adblockers we found that these are the best adblockers in 2021. 

uBlock Origin offers a lightweight and effective adblocking service.

  • Free option

    Yes

uBlock Origin doesn’t cater to every browser out there, but it supports the core desktop versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, and other Chromium-based browsers. It is lightweight compared to the competition, and when testing uBlock Origin we encountered the fewest detection messages from websites pleading to whitelist them, which certainly does well to enhance the overall user experience.

CyberSec comes free with a subscription to NordVPN.

  • Free option

    Yes

Although the CyberSec security suite isn’t free, it is included within a subscription to NordVPN, giving users an incredible value for money. Users will be able to access all the benefits of NordVPN's service, as well as adblocking and malware protection.

AdFender is a tried and tested desktop application that provides great adblocking.

  • Pricing

    • per year: $15.95/mth

While AdFender no longer offers a free option as of version 2.50, it remains one of the best ad blockers for Windows Vista through to Windows 10 thanks to its relatively cheap $19.95 per year subscription price. It has been tried and tested using a wide range of browsers, including Waterfox and Pale Moon, two of the more privacy-focused browser offerings out there.

AdLock is a robust adblocker for Android.

  • Pricing

    • /year Up to 2 Android devices: $10/mth
    • /year 2 Windows devices: $20/mth
    • /year/6 devices: $36/mth

AdLock’s desktop version isn’t quite as competitive at $22 per year, but its $11 Android subscription proves a treat. It’s a little more intensive on resources than browser-based alternatives for mobile, but as a separate application, it can prevent auto-playing videos, pop-ups, and general advertisements mobile-wide. Adblocking services are prevented from Google’s Play Store, meaning users will have to side-load this one onto their device.

1Blocker X is one of the original and best adblockers for iOS.

  • Free option

    Yes

    Pricing

    • Free version: $0/mth
    • Premium: $2.99/mth
    • /year: $14.99/mth

As one of the first acclaimed ad blockers for iOS, 1Blocker X has picked up a trick or two that keeps advertisements at bay for iPhone and iPad users. Acting as an optimization for Safari, 1Blocker X won’t work on applications, but it will save system resources with its 115,000+ blocker rules and settings preventing content from downloading in advance. 1Blocker X is incredibly affordable and available directly from the App Store for a onetime payment of only $4.99.

Adblock Plus is a long-running adblocker that we think is worth noting as well.

  • Free option

    Yes

Adblock Plus, otherwise known as ABP, is one of the oldest extensions around, established as the most popular adblocker plug-in for the Firefox browser. Unfortunately, the extension has received criticism in recent years for its ‘Acceptable Ads’ scheme, allowing some paying advertisers to slip through onto a whitelist. This option can be turned off in the options, but given that this is a conflict of interest and there are better, more private services out there, it didn’t quite make our list.

Comapre key ad-blocker features

When putting together this list there are several factors that we considered to ensure that we recommended the best adblockers. These include the following; If it's compatible with main stream browsers, wether or not it is open-source source, If it has dedicated apps and more. See the table below to see how the services above compare on the factors:

uBlock Origin AdFender AdLock 1Blocker X
Firefox
Chrome
Edge
Safari
Windows
macOS
Linux
Android
iOS
Open source
User-definable blockists
Tracking protection

Why do I need an ad-blocker?

Companies tend to prioritize profit over user satisfaction; making deals with dodgy advertisement firms and slowing their webpages down with too many ads by filling them to the brim with animations, audio, and text. These ads are not only incredibly annoying, but they can also redirect you to malicious websites when you click on them and can slow your system to a crawl.

Ad-blockers are designed from the ground up to help consumers avoid the manipulation of brands, stopping advertisements in their tracks before they appear on-screen. After installing one, you will likely immediately see an improvement with faster loading times, helping to conserve battery life on both laptops and mobile devices. 

You'd be forgiven for thinking this is where an ad-blocker's functionality ends given its namesake, but certain products can be capable of so much more. They help to protect users from malicious advertisements known as 'malvertising', as attackers use them to disseminate harmful code. This is often done by redirecting the user to a compromised website or piggybacking a stealthy download to unsuspecting victims, in some cases, even without a click on the advertisement itself.

Ad-blockers have also proven instrumental in the battle for digital privacy as websites continue to siphon user data. A number of advertisements are infamous for tracking each click a user makes, building a profile of interests that includes intimate information such as age, location, friends, personal preferences, and more.

Learn more about ad-blockers

check out our what is an ad-blocker guide for some information about what they are, how they work, and the benefits of using them.

Types of Ad-blockers

As is typical, not all ad-blocker tools are built equally and can come in a variety of different forms. While some types are distinctly more popular than others, it's imperative to weigh up the pros and cons to determine the best ad-blockers for browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, operating systems such as Windows 10, Android or iOS, and the myriad of other devices out there.

Browser Extensions

Whether a user opts for a company-owned piece of software such as Google Chrome or open-source offerings, almost all browsers come with built-in ad-blocking features to avoid adware. Sadly, these measures are often limited, with most turning towards extensions to make the most of a browser's capability.

Of course, Chromium-based browsers have the largest selection of ad-blocking extensions thanks to Chrome cornering most of the global market when it comes to web browsers. Although Firefox has a good range available, support for others listed in our top 5 most secure browsers built for privacy is fewer and farther between. Users also risk vulnerability to browser fingerprinting when utilizing many extensions, resulting in a need for extra protection such a Canvas Defender for Firefox.

Free isn't necessarily good

At first, it might seem like a blessing that many ad-blockers are free to use, but unfortunately, not all of them can secure the level of privacy a consumer expects. Some make their money by discretely whitelisting the advertisements for companies that opt-in to share revenue with the developer, while others sometimes operate by collecting and selling the data of users themselves.

Pros of Browser Extensions

Cons of Browser Extensions

  • Support ranges per browser
  • Vulnerability to browser fingerprinting without added protection
  • Some free ad-blockers aren't as private as they seem

VPNs with Ad-blockers

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are vital when it comes to online privacy due to their ability to hide what you get up to on the internet, making them the perfect tool to pair up with ad-blockers. Some VPN developers have taken away the middle-man by offering ad-blocking features within their service, leaving more time for privately browsing the web and less time hunting for the perfect software.

As a one-stop-shop, users reap all the benefits of a traditional ad-blocker alongside the function of a VPN, making it incredibly difficult for adware to form a profile. The bundles are often a part of premium subscriptions, which enables a user to protect multiple devices at once.

With the built-in program being a paid feature, there is no funny business as to how the company is making money, but this makes it less accessible than some browser extensions. The primary drawback, however, is that ad-blocking cannot be used independently as the function only activates when connected to the VPN.

Pros of VPNs with Ad-blockers

Cons of VPNs with Ad-blockers

  • Requires a premium paid subscription
  • Ad-blocker functionality cannot be used independently

Ad-blocker desktop applications

Although it's a much more unconventional method of getting rid of advertisements, there are a few ad-blocker applications that can be directly installed onto desktops.

Unlike extensions, since these are installed on the device itself rather than added to individual browsers, these programs have the ability to prevent advertisements from appearing on multiple browsers at once – which is handy given that having more than one browser installed is always encouraged. Even advertisements baked into other applications and Windows 10 have a hard time against these ad-blocker apps.

Also, in contrast to extensions, ad-blocker apps have a tendency to take up a larger amount of system resources, such as memory, even when not in use. Strictly free versions of the programs also remain restricted or have fallen behind on development compared to their paid alternatives, leaving them a little less accessible.

Pros of Desktop ad-blocker applications

Cons of Desktop ad-blocker applications

  • Resource heavy
  • Free versions are usually restricted or out-dated
  • Not much of a selection

Router-loaded ad-blockers

With a little know-how, it is possible to load ad-blockers onto dedicated or virtual routers, preventing advertisements at Domain Name System (DNS) level. Implementation depends on the interface of each individual router, and while they are often trickier to set up than alternatives, they yield the biggest results.

While previously mentioned ad-blockers stop advertisements from appearing, most do nothing to prevent the web page from downloading personalized banners, images, and videos based on a user's browsing history and stored cookies. Prohibiting these advertisements from loading at the DNS level not only maximizes performance but caters to multiple devices in the household, let alone multiple browsers.

Preventing advertisements using DNS is usually a blanket-wide block that can sometimes be customized by the user based on how strict their settings are. There is a risk of select webpages breaking and commercial sites being caught in the crossfire, both of which can be remedied by manually whitelisting. No router-based solution is as accessible as its local brethren, but as mentioned earlier, this is particularly dependent on the router's user interface.

Pros of router-loaded ad-blockers

Cons of router-loaded ad-blockers

  • Can be fiddly to set up
  • Not as user-friendly to manage

Conclusion

The best ad-blockers can handle more than just the occasional pop-up. If you want to improve your overall internet experience and prevent your computer from being slowed down by torrents of ad campaigns, then an ad-blocker is a great tool. Here's a reminder of our top picks for the best ad-blockers:

  1. uBlock Origin - The best browser extension
  2. CyberSec (NordVPN) - The best VPN with an adblocker
  3. AdFender - The best desktop adblocker
  4. AdLock - The best adblocker for Android
  5. 1Blocker X - Best ad blocker for iOS

Written by: Damien Mason

In his first year with ProPrivacy, Damien found himself quoted in Forbes, Digital Spy, Reader’s Digest and several other publications before stepping up as Content Editor. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Film & Television Production, he is familiar with all areas of writing and often produces scripts for ProPrivacy’s own YouTube channel. Outside of the company, he can be found playing video games, binging television shows and writing about both.

6 Comments

Ccarlo
on October 31, 2021
Reply
there are a few more quality and powerful blockers; but you have not currently listed two of them. the first is: privacy badger (from eff.org) and the second is the most powerful, and definitely the strongest adblocker that exists, and it was made by the same author as UBlock Origin (Raymond Hill) ... it's uMatrix ... definitely, amazing powerful and effective.must have adblocker!!!
Laverne Lachapelle
on November 3, 2020
Reply
Of course you can't cover every possible Ad Blocker out there, but allow me to make a pitch for Better Blocker, available at the App Store, for Macs, for $1.99. It's the creation of an Irish couple and their website is here: https://better.fyi FYI - I have no connection whatsoever with this company or the developers. Just a very happy customer. Also, it troubles me that when you turn on, for instance, the AdBlock Engine in Safari extensions, you see the alert: "Can read sensitive information from webpages, including passwords, phone numbers, and credit cards." When you use Better Blocker, you see: "Better does not have permission to read or transmit content from any webpages."
Eddy
on May 13, 2020
Reply
Hi, great review. I personally find Brave browser to do a fantastic job at blocking ads. For desktop version STANDS extension worked far better than others.
Snowden
on February 7, 2020
Reply
Please... Pretty please!... Don't say "PC", say Windows! 'cause that's what you really mean... And also, mention Linux on this article. Is the second article I read TODAY that doesn't mention anything about Linux as a supported platform for several of the software you recommend and also, this is a site about "privacy"... Linux should be mentioned pretty much in every single article that is not devoted to a specific Operating System. I'm starting to question myself as a reader of this site's RSS feed.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Snowden
on February 12, 2020
Reply
Hi Snowden. Damien points out that this was the first article he ever wrote for us, and was very much finding his feet. We will adjust it to include reference to Linux as soon as time permits (most ad-blockers are browser-based, and therefore agnostic anyway). And in fairness to us as a website, ProProivacy does give Linux a great deal of prominence, something we only plan to expand moving forward.
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