Web Pages are complex beings these days.
In other words, they aren’t as straightforward as they same.
You may think that the whole content of any given page is served to you by the given webpage.
But that is not true.
Web Pages take some of their content from other domains.
These domains are different and separate from the webpage the user is visiting.
Most of this type of elements actually contain things called trackers.
These trackers collect information and then send it to third party companies.
Then, those companies come to know more about the user’s online browsing habits.
These companies can also use that data to display the user more relevant ads.
Some users feel that it is a clear sign of violation of one’s privacy.
Moreover, such type of trackers can slow down a user’s browsing experience.
In other words, longer load times.
This wastes the user’s bandwidth as well.
But the fact is, advertising helps websites and companies stay afloat.
That is how they keep the web and its content free and accessible to all.
If you take out advertising, most of the websites that you love and support will no longer run and operate.
Of course, everyone should come together and strike a balance.
Some tracking is good.
A lot of tracking is bad.
You can thank us for this guide which will show you how to get rid of these trackers.
And browser in a more private manner.
We will list the best tools you can use right now in order to minimize the existence of these trackers in your life.
Do ads annoy you?
Do you want faster load times?
Do you want to know how to save bandwidth?
We will show you tools that will allow you to do all of the above in an easy and intuitive manner.
IN this guide, we will list around six such tools.
All of these come for free and you can install them right into your web browser.
These tools are sometimes called anti-tracker extensions.
Now, remember, no individual tool is perfect.
That is why, we will list the tools and then we will describe their main features.
Then we will talk about their advantages and disadvantages.
After that, you’ll have an easier time deciding which tools you want to most.
How Do Browser Extensions That Fight Trackers Work?
It is an important question.
All of the browser extensions we will list shortly will help you block trackers.
Especially the third-party ones.
You can choose any extension you wish.
But you will have to know how to configure it.
We’ll teach you that too.
Some of the tools also offer bonus feature such as,
- Analytics blockers
- Tracker prevention tools that appear on social media websites
How Do These Extensions Work?
They work via cookies.
What are cookies then?
They are nothing but tiny little text files.
They also hold some data.
Most of the times, websites use them to make a user’s browsing experience more comfortable.
Or user-friendly as they say.
Common uses of cookies are,
- Keep a user’s session save and logged in on a particular website
There are cookies and then there are tracking cookies.
They don’t do much except for storing data on a user’s machine.
Tracker cookies go the extra mile when it comes to collecting your information and sending that information to another company or third-party advertising firm.
As mentioned before, advertising companies use tracking cookies because they want to show you relevant ads.
And they also want to show you these ads at the best times.
Most of the time, if you have visited a certain website, then advertisers want to show you ads that are related to that website on the page that you visit after visiting the first website.
Hope that made sense.
The point is, trackers first log user information and then relay it.
Developers can embed these trackers in all kinds of elements that are present on a webpage.
Most of the time, it is these third-party companies that deliver that particular element on a given webpage.
When you install extensions which block trackers, you basically allow these extensions to go out in the wild and hunt these trackers and the tracker’s sources down.
After these extensions have found what they are looking for, they block trackers.
They can also stop trackers from ever loading on the webpage you are visiting.
When trackers can’t load their content on the given webpage, they can’t track the user.
That is how these extensions work.
Let’s move forward and learn more about the extensions you’re going to use very shortly.
As the name suggests, this extension blocks ads.
It does a lot of other things as well, but as far as its primary use is concerned, it blocks ads.
If you find ads irritating and prefer websites to not show you any adds or those annoying pop ups that can reveal your web browsing history, then Adblock Plus is the way to go.
It is a very handy tool.
YOu can deploy it right into your browser by going to its official website or Google Play Store.
Adblock Plus also has a desktop extension.
And it supports all the major browsers such as,
Adblock Plus now also has an Adblock Browser.
But it is only available for iOS and Android.
The problem with Adblock is that it doesn’t block all the ads automatically.
You have to tell it which ads to block by selecting a list of ads.
In other words, you need to give it some rules.
Luckily, Adblock Plus comes with some filter lists.
These can help you setup your preferences quickly.
There is also a default filter list.
If you apply it then you allow Adblock Plus to not touch ads which are in its Acceptable Ads list.
Adblock Plus has an acceptable ads policy which you can read right here.
Adblock Plus isn’t the Batman to the advertiser’s Joker.
In other words, Adblock Plus wants advertisers to come up with ads which are non-intrusive.
That is also the reason why Adblock Plus only blocks ads which it deems are annoying.
Those big banners and little pop-up advertisements.
These are the ones that Adblock Plus eats up like candy.
But if an ad meets its criteria then it does not block it.
What is that criteria?
The criteria is as follows,
- Ads must have appropriate position on a given webpage
- They should not mix with other content. IN other words, they should clearly appear as ads and not as content.
- Their size should not go out of proportion.
You should also note that Adblock Plus uses this policy to monetize its service.
It charges companies a fee if they want to include themselves in Adblock Plus’s whitelist.
Of course, Adblock Plus makes sure that their ads meet the previously mentioned criteria.
Which is great.
There is a good chance though that you don’t like Adblock Plus ad policy.
If you don’t want to see any ads regardless how non-intrusive they are, then you can go into the options menu and disable the option that says Acceptable Ads.
Moreover, Adblock Plus also allows users to create their own ad filter lists.
This will allow you to see some ads that you don’t find terribly irritating.
Adblock Extra Features
Remember when we told you that Adblock Plus did more than just ad blocking?
Now, we’ll give you the details.
Adblock Plus ships with an option that allows users to avoid tracking in a way that doesn’t compromise their anonymity.
Moreover, Adblock Plus can also disable domains which are known to have malware for you.
This feature helps to keep your machine from those nasty hackers.
Moreover, such features can also save you from other types of attacks.
If you don’t like social media buttons then Adblock Plus can block those for you as well.
It will remove their icons that appear on web pages and posts that you read and browser.
You might think all of this stuff is pretty harmless on the outside.
But they aren’t.
And don’t think just because you haven’t clicked these nasty things, you are safe.
These buttons record your sensitive information and then send that to social media websites.
They also send your browsing history.
Adblock Plus is an open source extension.
It is free for anyone who wants to try it.
We don’t know of too many extensions that work better or equal to Adblock Plus.
Moreover, it allows you to tweak its settings.
Which is awesome.
We have heard users not liking Adblock Plus because it doesn’t disable absolutely all ads by default.
And we understand them.
But when you have a user interface that is so easy to use, it takes just a couple of seconds to go into options and disable all ads.
Disconnect is another browser extension that secures your privacy.
It supports the following web browsers,
It comes with two available options that are included in its free package.
The free package is the BASIC Disconnect package.
The first option is private browsing.
And the second option is private search.
What does each do?
Let’s find out.
Private browsing feature allows users to block ads and trackers.
In other words, all websites that you visit will have no trackers and ads when you turn this option to ON.
The same goes for third-party advertisers as well.
But just like Adblock Plus, Disconnect does more than just block ads and trackers.
It can also help you to visualize its work.
Websites make a lot of connections with your profile when you visit them.
Disconnect can count these and show them to you with a nice bar chart.
You can have a look at this chart and then click on the ones you don’t want Disconnect to block.
To install Disconnect all you have to do is add the extension either from its official website or via Google Play Store.
If you click on its icon, it will show you a chart.
You can use this chart to via the overall statistics regarding requests that pages send to their sources once you visit them.
The chrome version of this extension is pretty cool.
So if you use Chrome, get to it right now.
Clicking on any of the options shown to you by Disconnect will show you specific sites that try to connect to the page you are visiting.
If you prefer a more visual format then Disconnect has that too.
Disconnect allows you full freedom to allow and block whichever website you want to.
You can blacklist and/or whitelist a site at will.
If you use Disconnect with its default settings, then the service claim that it can boost your loading times by up to 44 percent.
It also claims that it can reduce your bandwidth usage by as much as 39 percent.
The Second Feature: Private Search
Disconnect has a private search extension as well.
This extension enables users to block certain search engines along with internet service providers from tracking the user and the user’s search data.
The bad news is that it can’t stop Google from tracking and recording your information.
But you can block other search engines such as,
Like Adblock Plus, it too has a neat user interface which is easy to use.
It also has a tracker blocker that is comprehensive.
Disconnect is so good that New York Times rated it as the best privacy tool for all online users.
Disconnect is also open source.
A private company has developed the extension.
And the company follows a freemium model with regards to Disconnect.
You can use the basic package for free.
But it will only block trackers for one browser.
Similarly, you can only use the private search feature for just one web browser.
If you feel that Disconnect is really worth it then you can pay for the advanced package.
The advanced package will block malware and trackers for a user’s whole device.
All a user (you) has to do is pay Disconnect a small one-time charge amounting to $24.99.
For users with more budget, Disconnect has a premium package.
This premium package comes with a VPN service provider.
And it can change your location and hide your identity.
It can also give you some well-deserved WiFi protection.
The premium package will cost you around $50 every year and it will allow you to protect up to three devices.
Once upon a time, people used an ad blocking extension by the name of uBlock.
uBlock Origin is actually a fork of that.
The original author maintains both blockers.
You can install uBlock Origin if you have the following web browsers,
What about its options and features?
They are very similar to what you get with Disconnect and Adblock Plus.
But it may have the edge because some generous developers volunteered to create and maintain uBlock Origin.
uBlock Origin claims that its best advantage is that it does eat up too much memory.
Most adblocking extensions do consume a lot of memory.
uBlock Origin, by default, enables four ad filter lists from the start.
These filter lists includes,
- Malware Domains
- Easy List
- And Easy Privacy
If you want to add more then you can add more just like in Adblock Plus.
Do take note that if you add more filter lists, uBlock Origin will consume more memory.
uBlock Origin comes with a neat dashboard as well.
Using the dashboard you can access some of uBlock Origins obscure configuration options.
We’re talking about,
If you aren’t a tech buff, there is a good chance that you don’t know what any of these features do.
Neither do we.
But some research always helps.
If you want to know how these features work you are free to read the documentation for these features.
They are available at their GitHub pages.
Just like Adblock Plus, Disconnect, uBlock origin is also open source.
If you have low memory then uBlock Origin is the best ad blocking extension.
Its user interface is not as easy to use as Adblock Plus’.
So prepare to spend some time in learning how to use it.
Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension is another extension that first detects trackers and then blocks them.
This means a web free of trackers that users can access faster and with more privacy.
Not to mention, this also reduces screen clutter.
Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension supports seven top web browsers.
- Internet Explorer
- And Firefox
You can also install Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension on your iOS and Android devices.
We’re not going to lie to you:
Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension has a rather murky business model.
And that’s why many reputable websites warn users to resist using this extension.
Why is that?
The problem with Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension is this:
It blocks ads.
We all know that.
But what we don’t or didn’t know that Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension, as a company, has parts.
One of those parts earns its revenues by collaborating with advertising companies.
That seems like a huge problem.
But since Cliqz, a German company, bought Ghostery a while back, those problems are now in the past.
Setting up Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension is intuitive and simple.
It shows the user a complete list of blockable trackers from the get go.
Hence, it enables users to select which trackers they want to block.
And that happens, before you start browsing.
Users can even block trackers turn by turn.
But since there are thousands of trackers, that may take a while.
Users can also block all trackers that belong to a specific category.
Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension offers a total of eight categories.
If you are new to Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension and the anti-tracker extensions thing, then we suggest that you should select Block all option from the start.
There are tons of other options in the Settings menu as well.
You can customize Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension behavior according to your own preferences.
Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension has another perk as well.
It syncs your settings across multiple browsers.
This is very useful if you use multiple browsers on a regular basis.
Of course, this feature will also save you some time.
Updatings settings is a wonderful experience, said no one ever.
That’s why Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension has ensured that you only have to configure your settings once.
Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension is a highly customizable anti-tracker extension.
And it performs that job brilliantly.
Moreover, Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension does require some browser or usage data when you install it.
Most of the other extensions require user data as well in order to improve their product.
Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension does it accordingly.
We admit that some users don’t like such a setting and may not like Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension.
But you can easily disable these requests when you install Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension for the first time.
Another thing you should take care of is that if you want Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension to synchronize your configuration settings across all browsers then you must sign up for Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension via an email address and of course a password.
Who created this extension?
Electronic Frontier Foundation.
That is enough to authenticate its legitimacy and effectiveness.
For those who don’t know the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a well-reputed nonprofit organization for digital rights.
The fact that the people behind Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension didn’t make this extension to make money is enough to give it some credibility.
However, that comes with a drawback as well:
Since no one gets paid no matter how much popular Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension gets, the developers behind this extension don’t have much motivation to improve the product or its effectiveness.
It is available for browsers such as,
- And Chrome
This extension is a bit different than the ones we have discussed before.
But if you want an anti-tracker extension that works right out of the box then Privacy Bader is for you.
Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension praises itself on the fact that users don’t have to configure it a lot before use.
All you have to do is install Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension.
And you’re done.
Other extensions use lists.
And you have to specify these lists.
Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension makes use of algorithms.
Algorithms decide which element Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension will block.
If Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension recognizes that a given source looks like it is tracking a user’s movements across several websites, then Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension will move in and block that particular source.
Hence, your browser will not load that source’s content.
In other words, the source can’t track you.
Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension will actually observe and learn how you use your browser.
Hence it will not start to blocking everything you want it to block right away.
But as times goes on, it will get better.
Moreover, to save resources sometimes Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension would only partially block an element if it sees fit.
Other times it will completely block an element.
Moreover, if it recognizes that blocking an element would break a given website, then it would only partially block it.
Of course, you have control over this feature.
And if you find anything that you feel Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension should block then you can set it to block or partially block.
Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension is simple to use.
But even with that, it provides users with a comprehensive detailed step-by-step walkthrough the first time you install the extension.
Some people have raised a question about Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension and it goes something like this:
Since it learns from your browsing habits and other preferences, it is capable of recording at least some if not all the domains that a user visits or has visited.
Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension developers are addressing this issue as we write this so we hope they come up with a solution soon enough.
Another issue with Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension is that it doesn’t work in Privacy mode.
Because in privacy mode, your browser is not keeping a record of domain names.
And hence Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension can’t “learn” or “work”.
Some users may think these issues aren’t something to worry about.
If that is you then great.
But if you don’t like how Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension blocks stuff then you can go for other options as well.
Remember, Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension is free.
And it has a fast, simple and straightforward setup.
Not to mention, it is very easy to understand and use.
You can start blocking elements right now if you want to.
But if you don’t mind spending some time looking for a more robust extension, then you should look someplace else.
If you want an extension that blocks all ads, regardless of their nature, then the traditional Adblock Plus will do that to perfection.
What if you are using Microsoft Edge?
Well, Privacy Badge works with that too.
It even has a working version for Firefox mobile but it is currently in its development stage.
uMatrix, just like every other anti-tracker software that we have talked about here, has some common functionalities with other options.
But its focus is different.
It wants to put the control in the user’s hands.
Just like Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension, uMatrix too relies on the work of some volunteer developers for its creation and maintenance.
So, you know that the people behind uMatrix don’t have an ulterior motive.
uMatrix is available for Firefox and Chrome.
But it isn’t the best option for beginner users.
The developers are targeting advanced users with uMatrix.
The advantage of that approach is that if you know your stuff you can set its configuration so that it absolutely protects your privacy.
You will have full control of your privacy if you know your stuff.
Because with uMatrix you can instruct your web browser to places it is allowed to connect to.
You decide which data your browser can download and you will decide if your browser can execute some commands or not.
Its Chrome extension’s interface is basic but workable.
uMatrix allows users to whitelist or blacklist sites in their entirety.
And in terms of columns and rows.
You can also block groups of columns and row.
It also comes with scope rules.
You can use these rules to access specified sites which you can visit but are blocked when they try to track you on other websites.
uMatirx has an overwhelming interface.
That is obvious.
But that is a necessity since it offers a ton of options to users.
With that said, the interface itself is a simple point and click adventure.
The options are simple and make sense.
uMatrix with its default mode is very aggressive.
In other words, it will block everything it deems an ad or tracker.
This can result in broken websites.
But you can change this setting with just a few clicks.
Moreover, uMatrix also allows deep level customization.
Users who only want privacy and ad blocking features should stay away from uMatrix.
Because it is very hands-on.
Which means you will have to spend a considerable amount of time in configuring it.
On the upside, it grants you complete control of web browser activity.
Of course, you will again need the time to implement uMatrix properly.
When it comes to customization options and information visualized, uMatrix is the most robust solution.
But it isn’t for new users.
What If I Want To Use Multiple Extensions?
First of all, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
But if you combine some of these extensions well enough, they can supplement each other.
Most of these extensions are compatible with each other.
And hence give a more comprehensive solution with regards to your privacy and anonymity.
Not to mention ads.
Perhaps the most popular combination is this:
Disconnect along with Adblock Plus
Users who like uBLock Origin usually combine it with uMatrix.
The reason is simple.
The same author created both uBlock Origin and uMatrix.
But there are downsides to using combinations as well.
First of all, using multiple extensions will eat up your memory more than anyone would do on its own.
Moreover, if you have a lightweight computer then that might not work for you.
And since, for most of the extensions, you have to go through so many settings options, we’re not entirely sure that you would want to do that twice in order to protect your privacy and get rid of ads.
uMatrix and uBlock Origin have too many options to not give even the most advanced of users some serious headaches.
In the real world, your choice depends on your needs.
You should experiment as much as you can.
Try out different combinations.
And then decide which works best for you.
The creators of these extensions update them regularly.
So it is entirely possible that you may not stick to one option if another option gets new features from its developers.
Anti-Tracker Browser Extension Conclusion
By now you should clearly understand why you need anti-tracker browser extensions.
In other words, there are tons of reasons for you to use anti-tracker browser extensions.
They protect a user’s privacy and block those ads that most of the online users hate so much.
Now, even though we have listed the six best anti-tracker browser extensions, there are tons of other extensions as well.
We would suggest that you start with these six best anti-tracker browser extensions.
The only thing left to do is for you to decide which browser extension you feel comfortable with.
In this guide, we have compared and described six of the best anti-tracker browser extensions.
You could go with just a single one or use multiple of these anti-tracker browser extensions.
Let’s summarize this guide now:
- Adblock Plus
This anti-tracker browser extension comes in the form of an ad blocker. It protects you against malware and tracking
Another anti-tracker browser extension that has a tremendous visual user interface.
But if you want to use it for more than one browser, you will have to pay a fee
- uBlock Origin
Its interface is not as intuitive as some of the other anti-tracking browser extensions but it saves you a lot of memory.
- Ghostery anti-tracker browser extension
A highly customizable anti-tracking browser extension that can sync your settings across all browsers.
- Privacy Badger anti-tracker browser extension.
It doesn’t have the most comprehensive of blocking technologies but it is great because it uses an algorithm to block ads.
It does that via on-the-job learning.
The more you use it, the better it becomes.
This is a wonderfully useful tool but only for advanced users.
Because of its nature, it provides you absolute control over all your web browser activity
If you have any suggestions about anti-tracker browser extensions then do let us know by using the comments box below.
Latest posts by Zohair (see all)
- How to Enhance Firefox Security And Privacy (The Complete Guide) - 21 May 2018 8:36 PM
- Say Hello To A Chinese Lab That Wants To Rule The World With AI - 20 May 2018 1:11 PM
- Predicting The Future: Can Machine Learning Help? Yes. - 19 May 2018 1:08 PM