One of the hottest new trends in online browsing is the increased popularity of browser extensions. A browser extension is a kind of like an app or a computer program, but instead of being its own thing, it improves the internet experience by making a browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox be able to do things that aren’t part of the standard package. There are many types of extensions for a wide range of computing tasks, from increasing productivity at work to silly things like extensions that block browsers from loading comments on YouTube videos.
One of the most popular browser extensions is Adblock, by Avast. What is Adblocker? An adblocker, despite the name, is not just something that blocks ads. Strictly speaking, an adblocker prevents certain types of digital code (usually ads, hence the name) from being loaded onto your computer, which makes the internet browsing process more streamlined and helps pages load faster.
Adblockers: How Do They Work?
Adblockers work by using two types of lists: blacklists (also called blocklists) and whitelists (also called allowlists). We’ll start with blacklists because they’re exactly what you’d expect: a list of websites that are known to be used by advertisers for the purpose of delivering ads. If you’ve ever sat and waited for a webpage to load and you saw the words “waiting for ad.doubleclick.net” or something similar, you probably know how it feels to have your internet browsing slowed down by having to wait for large ad banners to load. Ads coming from any provider on any of the blacklists used by the Adblocker will not be loaded by your browser.
Whitelists, as you may have guessed, are the opposite: these are lists of websites where adblocking doesn’t take place. For example, some websites may not allow visitors full access if advertisements aren’t allowed to load, and sometimes, the websites are important enough (like a bank or other place where you couldn’t just use a different website) that ads must be allowed through. Whitelists or allowlists let the user decide if they want to see ads on a certain webpage or not.
Advantages of An Adblocker
Adblockers are considered good for a variety of reasons. First, they help web pages load faster without needing to wait for a bunch of ads to load. Second, some less reputable ad providers are willing to take anyone’s money if it’s on the table and isn’t concerned about harmful or offensive content being provided to website visitors. Adblocker software can prevent adult content from being shown to children or prevent them from downloading a virus onto the family computer because they clicked a link that promised them an iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Disadvantages of An Adblocker
There are really only a few disadvantages to having an adblocker and, fortunately for consumers, all of them can be overcome.
First, some websites won’t let you use them if you don’t allow ads to load. Thankfully, the emergence of whitelists (or allowlists) makes it possible to turn off adblocking on a certain website or websites, either temporarily or permanently. For most websites, this won’t be necessary, but some banking or other important websites may not allow users to block ads.
Secondly, many websites rely on advertisements in order to make money or at least pay the bills. Blocking these ads can sometimes hurt smaller companies that often find it difficult to compete with huge international corporations. You may also have a friend whose website contains ad space and using an advertisement removal service would prevent someone you know or care about from getting paid. Thankfully, the whitelist service again comes in handy and allows you to choose which websites are allowed to serve you ads. Some of these websites (and especially your friend) may offer a way to support them financially without advertisements. Many people prefer to pay $2 on occasion to a website they use every day instead of sitting and waiting for multiple advertisements to load.
In summary, an adblocker is a piece of software that prevents advertisements from being loaded into a web browser. It works by comparing all incoming browser requests to a list of websites known to deliver ads and, if there is a match, it prevents the advertisement from being loaded in your browser. This has the benefit of faster load times and can prevent harmful or dangerous ads from being displayed.
The most important feature, however, is that all adblockers share is the ability to allow certain websites through, in case the consumer wishes to view ads for any number of reasons. This allows consumers to decide whether they want to be shown advertisements or not and a decision can be made on a case-by-case basis, instead of an all-or-nothing approach. Any software that gives internet users more freedom in how they browse the internet is a completely welcome addition to any platform.