Ad blockers are quickly becoming essential software for taking control of one‘s online experience. With the meteoric rise in annoying and intrusive ads, Microsoft Edge users are turning to ad blockers to reclaim a smooth, uncluttered and secure web browsing experience. But with so many choices available, how does one pick the best ad blocker for Edge?
In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss what ad blockers are, how they work and why Edge users would want to use them. We will also dive deep into the top ad blocking extensions available for Edge, their features, limitations and customization options focusing especially on uBlock Origin. Followed by recommendations on choosing the right ad blocker for your needs and using it in the most optimal way.
The exponential growth of ad blocking
Ads are the financial backbone of the free online content we enjoy but often they end up harming the user experience. According to a 2022 survey by Statista, over 47% of internet users worldwide use ad blockers on their personal devices. This number is up from just 38% in 2020 showcasing the rapid adoption of ad blocking.
Companies serve over 50 billion ads per day on the web according to estimates. And users see on average over 6000 ads per day across web and mobile apps based on research from Digital Marketing Institute. Faced with such a staggering volume of advertising, it is no wonder users turn to ad blockers to reclaim control.
Why use an ad blocker with Microsoft Edge?
Ad blockers improve the web browsing experience in Microsoft Edge in the following ways:
- They remove intrusive and annoying ads from web pages like pop ups, auto-play video ads with sound, overlays and dialogue boxes.
- Malicious ads spreading malware are blocked from loading keeping users secure. 1 in 200 ads is compromised with malware by some estimates.
- Most ad blockers also block trackers hidden in ads from profiling users and destroying their privacy.
- Visual clutter is reduced allowing users to focus on a site‘s core content.
- Data usage and battery life of devices improves without heavy ad content.
So in summary, ad blockers are invaluable for taking control of the web browsing experience in Microsoft Edge. Next we explore the top options available to Edge users.
Top ad blockers for Microsoft Edge
There is healthy competition in the ad blocking space leading to innovation and continuous improvements. Here we explore the standout options for blocking ads effectively in Edge:
uBlock Origin is the most popular ad blocker available on Chrome, Firefox and Edge with over 200 million active users as per data from Analytics data provider SimilarWeb.
uBlock Origin is an open source ad blocker lauded for its efficiency, small footprint and being completely free. The highlights are:
- Uses less than 5MB of memory and negligible CPU making it extremely lightweight.
- Blocks all forms of ads including banners, pop-ups, ad videos, nags, cookie notices etc.
- Dynamic filtering for fine-grained control over what gets blocked on specific sites.
- Advanced mode unlocks extremely customizable rule-based blocking.
- Blocks trackers and surveillance scripts to protect user privacy.
- Regularly updated filter lists to counter ad blocker circumvention.
uBlock Origin offers unparalleled control and a blazing fast ad blocking experience. But it can take some time to tune its multitude of settings perfectly. Next up we have a user-friendly alternative.
AdGuard is developed by AdGuard Software which also offers a premium VPN service. Their ad blocker aims to provide robust ad blocking with minimal configuration.
Key aspects of AdGuard:
- Easy to use out-of-the-box ad blocking with good default filters.
- User-friendly slider to adjust level of blocking strictness.
- Option to selectively allow non-intrusive ads through its Allowlist feature.
- Blocks various ad types across all sites and also YouTube video ads.
- Available as a standalone browser extension for Edge.
AdGuard offers a nicely balanced ad blocking experience catering to average users who want minimum setup complexity. But more advanced users may be left wanting greater control.
Ghostery is an ad blocker focused on enhancing privacy by blocking trackers. It identifies and blocks over 2000 trackers on the web according to category like ad tech, web analytics, session recording, social media etc.
Ghostery‘s key strengths are:
- Auto-blocks web trackers lurking on sites using an ever-updating database.
- Lets you customize blocking of ads, trackers, site analytics, comment panels etc.
- Shows which specific trackers are present on each site visited for awareness.
- Lightweight browser extension for Edge using only limited memory.
- Available as a free extension for all major browsers.
Ghostery is great for users who want visibility into all the web trackers following them around the internet and control over what gets blocked. Their constantly updated tracker database ensures effective protection.
AdBlock Plus is arguably the oldest ad blocker having been around for 17 years at this point. It uses curated filter lists to remove ads from websites.
Some key aspects of AdBlock Plus:
- Requires one-click installation and setup to start blocking ads.
- Allows some non-intrusive ads by default to support websites.
- Users can further customize filtering rules if needed.
- Very low memory footprint due to minimalist design.
- Available completely free for all major desktop and mobile browsers.
AdBlock Plus offers barebones ad blocking functionality for those who just want intrusive ads gone with minimum config and memory usage. But more advanced users may find capabilities lacking.
Top ad blockers compared
|uBlock Origin||Extremely customizable, open source, very efficient||Steep learning curve, takes time to master|
|AdGuard||User-friendly default blocking, allowlists||No open source code, some performance impact|
|Ghostery||Strong anti-tracking focus, blocker insights||Limited configuration options|
|AdBlock Plus||Quick to setup, low resource usage||Very basic, lacking advanced options|
How ad blockers work to block ads in Edge
Ad blockers utilize a combination of techniques to prevent ads from loading in Edge and other browsers:
- Filter lists – These contain domains, URL patterns, scripts, page elements etc. associated with ads to block. Filter lists are continuously updated.
- Element hiding – Elements like ad containers are hidden on pages by targeting ID, class name etc.
- Blocking scripts – Ad related scripts are prevented from running to stop ads embedding in pages.
- WebRTC and IP leak protection – Stops IP leaks from WebRTC that can identify users across sites.
- Malware protection – Blocks known malicious domains that distribute malware via ads.
- Circumvention detection – Ad blockers counter techniques used by publishers like script obfuscation to sneak in ads.
Ad blockers rely on curated filter lists maintained by the community to identify and block ads before they even have a chance to load on pages visited by users. But they have some limitations we must be aware of.
Limitations of ad blockers users should know
While ad blockers are very beneficial, some drawbacks exist that users should be aware of:
- No ad blocker can block 100% of ads due to the evolving nature of ads and continual circumvention efforts.
- Mobile ad blocking has limits imposed by platforms like iOS which reduce efficacy.
- Circumvention by publishers using various tricks to sneak ads past blockers is a constant arms race.
- Proxy blockers – Publishers are exploring anti-adblock measures like proxying content through intermediaries.
- Loss of revenue – While small for most sites, ad blockers do cut into income supporting free content.
The impact of these limitations can be reduced by customizing ad blocker settings carefully to avoid over-blocking while regularly updating filters. Reasonable defaults help minimize breakage of sites.
Picking the right ad blocker for your needs
With the major options covered, how do you pick the best one for your specific requirements?
- If you want set it and forget it blocking, AdBlock Plus and AdGuard offer good out-of-the-box experiences.
- For stronger privacy protection, Ghostery and AdGuard offer tracker blocking beyond just ads.
- If you need an open source ad blocker, uBlock Origin is fully open source.
- For a highly customizable experience, uBlock Origin has the most granular control.
- If you want to support sites by allowing some ads, AdBlock Plus and AdGuard let you whitelist.
- For lightest possible footprint, uBlock Origin consumes the least memory.
Take your priorities into account when choosing an ad blocker for Microsoft Edge and you will pick the best fit.
Customizing uBlock Origin for optimal ad blocking
uBlock Origin is the most configurable of ad blockers. Here are tips to tailor it close to your ideal set up:
Switch to advanced user mode
This opens up more options for controlling uBlock Origin‘s behavior.
Select additional filter lists
Curated lists for specific regions, sites and devices help block more ads.
Create allow rules
Allow rules let you specify ads or resources you want to exempt from blocking.
Monitor blocked requests
The logger gives insights into what is currently being blocked on each site.
Adjust blocking strictness
Set it to hardened mode for aggressive blocking or relax it if needed.
Update filters regularly
Updated filter lists are key to counter new circumvention measures.
Take time to explore all of uBlock Origin‘s capabilities to optimize it for your typical browsing habits and sites visited.
The ethical considerations of ad blocking
There are understandable concerns around ad blockers depriving publishers of revenue. However, research indicates the impact is negligible for most publishers:
- Sites with intrusive ad experiences just accelerate user adoption of ad blockers.
- Average loss of revenue from ad blocking is low at 3-4% for small to medium publishers per PageFair.
- Large publishers see negligible impact with 0.1-0.2% loss according to Comscore.
- Acceptable ads whitelists in tools like AdBlock Plus recoup some of this revenue.
- Poor site experience due to ads is the primary driver of ad blocker usage as per surveys.
Ad blockers actually encourage publishers to improve site experience. So rather than unethical, they nudge sites towards a better balance between content and ads.
The future of ad blocking
Ad blocking is a continually evolving space. Some emerging trends include:
- Circumvention techniques like proxying will continue requiring ad blockers to adapt.
- More focus on client-side cryptomining scripts which hijack device CPU cycles.
- Stricter platform policies on ad blocking especially on mobile devices.
- Integration of ad blocking directly into browsers – like Brave and its ecosystem.
- Publishers exploring anti-adblock measures including legal avenues.
- Increasing use of privacy-preserving approaches like on-device ML to block ads.
- Less dependence on filter lists and more self-learning local models trained on user data.
Ad blocking is poised to only grow in importance in future serving as a check against terrible ad experiences driving users to distraction.
Key takeaways on picking the best ad blocker
Here are the key recommendations for Microsoft Edge users looking to enhance their browsing experience using ad blockers:
- Enable either uBlock Origin or AdGuard extension for protecting against annoying, intrusive and malicious ads.
- For stronger privacy protection, combine with Ghostery to block web trackers specifically.
- Take time to customize the ad blocker to find the right balance for your browsing.
- Whitelist specific sites and ads you deem acceptable to avoid over-blocking.
- Keep ad blocker filter lists updated regularly for best protection.
- On mobile Edge, use AdBlock Plus which works across iOS and Android.
- While useful, avoid turning on every blocking feature as it can break sites.
The right ad blocker configured properly grants Microsoft Edge users a clean, fast and private web experience. No longer held hostage by distracting ads, users can focus on a site‘s core content and enjoy the benefits of a decluttered internet.