How to Block Ads, Trackers and Other Unwanted Browser Plugins

Thanks to , who did the testing, most of the research and contributed to this article.

Click here to jump to the installation guides.

As we discussed in our first article, trackers are small script-based programs that are embedded in popular web sites, like Yahoo! and CNN. The Facebook "Like" button is an example.

Most users don't even realize that trackers are present, let alone what they're doing. They can slow down your browsing while they harvest information about you and your browsing habits.

For Parents, IT Administrators and Those Who Want Privacy

Whether you're a parent trying to protect your children from being followed on the Internet, an IT administrator trying to maintain network performance and security, or you just don't want to be followed without your consent, you can prevent trackers from running.

The pop-up blocker that comes with your web browser probably won't stop most trackers. Merely turning off cookies won't do the trick, either. To stop these trackers, you can install one or more third party plugins.

Free Browser Plugins

Various free plugins are available that can stop trackers, ads and other unwanted programs from running in your web browser; and from slowing you down and harvesting your information while you're surfing. Not all of the plug-ins work in all browsers. Here are the ones we tested for PCs:

Tracker-Blocking Plugins and Supported Browsers
PluginFirefoxChromeInternet Explorer
GhosteryYesYesYes
AdblockYesYesNo
NoScriptYesNoNo
ScriptNoNoYesNo
Ghostery

Ghostery is a cross browser plugin designed to block web tracking. It supports Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, and Internet explorer. At the time of this writing, each browser is at a different version. The behavior and capabilities of the plugin depends on the browser being used.

Adblock

Adblock Plus is a versatile plugin for Firefox and Chrome that blocks third party javascript and images. It also blocks intrusive banner ads, popups, and even the commercials in youtube videos. For example it will prevent Facebook's javascript from executing on other web pages. If using Adblock is causing problems with a web page, you can turn it off for that page by right clicking on the ABP stop sign.

NoScript and ScriptNo

These two plugins are similar. NoScript is a Firefox plugin and ScriptNo is for Chrome. They selectively block javascript, java, and Flash on a per-site basis; and are very powerful since they work selectively as defined by the user (you train them by white-listing the sites that you trust). That also makes the learning curve higher than with some other browser plugins.

Installation Guides

Although these plugins can be very effective, they can be difficult to install. So, here are some easy-to-use installation and configuration guides. Click on the browser you're using to see the guide for it.

Caution: We do not endorse or recommend the use of any of these plugins. They are written by third-party software providers and are generally free of charge. Use them at your own risk.


"Firefox" is a registered trademark of the Mozilla Foundation. "Chrome" is a trademark of Google, Inc. Internet Explorer is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation. Use of these and other trademarks does not imply any endorsement by their respective owners.