Photo Credit: pexel
At their best, online ads can be distracting. At their worst, online ads carry privacy risks and viruses. Creators of online ads have expanded to the point where your device can be infected with malware the moment an ad loads, whether you click on it or not.
Whether you’re browsing the internet and have multiple windows pop up of different ads or reading your favorite blog but cannot get past the flashing notifications, online ads are troublesome. With them comes slower page speeds, data usage, and security threats. Because of this, more and more people are turning to ad blocking. According to a report by PageFair, ad blocker usage worldwide rose by 30% in 2016, bringing the total number of devices with ad blockers up to around 615 million.
Part of this popularity comes from how easy it is to set up ad blockers on any device. There’s a huge variety of options, and many of them are free. Another reason for their popularity is due to the rise of malvertisement. Hackers and cyber criminals will upload a legitimate-looking ad to a trusted website. The reality, though, is these ads contain malware and scams.
Whether it be for a security boost or to simply remove unwanted ads, the reason for wanting an ad blocker will help determine which method is best for you. Here are three of the most common ad blocking methods and when it’s best to use each one:
Browser extensions (or add-ons or plugins) are probably the most common form of ad blocking technology. They can be downloaded through a browser extension catalog. Once downloaded, they install themselves into the browser and then activate.
All major browsers across different operating systems have a range of options for ad blockers. Each extension, however, only works with the browser it’s downloaded for. So, if you use more than one browser or switch to a different one later on, you’ll need to install another ad blocker for each one.
Browser extension ad blockers are simple to use and have a wide variety of choices available. They are most people’s first line of defense for desk- or laptop devices. Use them for a quick, easy-to-install defense against intrusive ads.
Mobile devices put a premium on speed and space, so browser extensions don’t always work quite as well on them (though some are available). Instead, most mobile ad blockers are either: 1) specialized mobile browsers, or 2) apps that block ads on other browsers.
The first kind can be especially useful on Android devices. With their extensive, less regulated app market, a self-contained browser can be easier to work with than two apps you’d have to coordinate. The second sort, meanwhile, works well on iOS where developers can focus their efforts on the small range of available browsers.
As long as you’re using a mobile device, it’s best to use an app specifically made for that device. It usually means quicker performance and a sleeker interface. That said, for major browsers that allow you to sync desktop and mobile use, you may want to stick with a mobile browser extension to maintain the convenience of your browser account. Whichever approach you go with, however, it’s worthwhile to try several ones and find out which ones work best for you regarding speed, customization, and ease of use.
A somewhat more complex method (but most reliable) is using a virtual private network (VPN) with ad blocking technology. VPNs offer a lot regarding online security and anonymity.
Once set up, a VPN of this sort would block ads on all devices that use the network. This means that your ad blocking preferences can be centralized and even when you switch devices, these settings stay in place.
On top of this, a VPN provides an additional level of safety and privacy by encrypting all information that passes through the network. It also effectively masks your IP address, which can be useful for mitigating the privacy risks that come with targeted ads.
Using a VPN provides the most comprehensive security. If you spend much time on a public network or have multiple people using a home network, a VPN is the best option. You’ll have extra security through the encryption capability of a VPN, all while blocking malicious ads.
Guest Post: Jordan Choo is a content creator and digital marketing specialist working with Hotspot Shield, one of the highest ranked VPN services worldwide. He is a prolific producer of blogs and other digital content, which have supported Hotspot Shield’s commitment to maintaining a free and secure internet for all users.