On one hand, ads are important for business awareness, they are the sole source of income for many websites, but on the other hand, websites abuse their power and don’t respect user privacy at all. A bulk of websites on the internet are now infested with harmful scripts, spammy popups, phishing scams, tracking cookies, intrusive advertisements that promote adware and scamware, which is why it has become essential to use an adblocker to protect yourself. So Let’s compare two of the most popular adblockers: uBlock Origin and Adblock Plus and decide which is the best adblocker for you.
What is The Best Way to Block Ads?
When it comes to blocking ads you have two options, either block it natively via a custom HOSTS file or use a browser extension. For a regular user, using a custom hosts file can be troublesome and not very effective because you have to manually keep the file updated to block all new kinds of ads. One big benefit of Host file is that it can block both browser ads and ads that are inside the operating system or any software running on it, for example, the notorious Windows 10 ads. But a big problem with blocking ads via host file is that it can be slower if you have a huge blocking list.
Although it prevents inbound/outbound traffic between the ad servers and blocks any ad from loading, on a browser it will leave empty spaces in places of ads. There are workarounds to fix that but then again it is too much of a hassle, especially if you don’t know how hosts file work. That’s where the adblocking browser extensions come into play.
Adblocking browser extensions are perfect for anyone. They can be automatically updated and can add new patches to tackle with new forms of exploitation or hijacking methods, e.g. the recent cryptocurrency mining scripts that are injected directly into the website itself and whenever someone visits the website it uses their computer resources to mine cryptocurrency. Overall, using an ad blocker via the browser extension is the best solution for day-to-day use and out of the box settings in these extensions can block almost all ads, harmful scripts, and other things.
uBlock Origin vs. Adblock Plus
Two of the most popular ad-blocking browser extensions are uBlock origin and Adblock Plus. Both extensions are available for major web browsers and have easy to use point-to-click interface to change settings and adding custom blocking filters, with Adblock Plus interface being a little better. But the real benchmark here is performance and effectiveness.
Adblock Plus was released in 2006. In 2011, the company behind Adblock Plus, ‘Eyeo’, attracted considerable controversy from its users when they added an “Acceptable Ads” program, which allowed certain non-intrusive ads to be whitelisted under the extension’s default settings. But ad providers have to first pay Adblock Plus a fee. Ad Providers such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Taboola paid “30% of their additional ad revenues” that they would earn if ads were unblocked, to get their ads unblocked. All of this was optional and you could still block all ads by changing to strict settings but this made a lot of people move to other adblocking extensions.
uBlock Origin was released in 2014 and was originally named uBlock. But due to a controversy between the original author Raymond Hill and developer Chris Aljoudi, he later rebranded the extension as ‘uBlock Origin’ to separate it from Chris Aljoudi ‘uBlock’, which is now completed unrelated to the uBlock Origin’s development. uBlock Origin leverages community maintained blocking lists with some added features.
After personally using both Adblock Plus and uBlock Origin, I can say that uBlock origin is a better adblocker than Adblock Plus for so many reasons. First of all, it is not just an “ad-blocker”, it’s a multi-purpose blocker that can also be used for blocking scripts and 3rd-party servers but happens to be used as an ad-blocker.
It is also open source and does not have a whitelist enabled by default. It consumes fewer CPU resources and memory. They don’t accept donations so that means if you are an ad provider you can’t slip through the cracks by paying them money. It is ultimately the user who enforce his own content-filtering choices. If you are using uBlock origin you also don’t need any other blockers and tracking protection extensions like Privacy Badger, Ghostery, and Disconnect because you can add their filter lists directly into uBlock Origin.
It has a simple interface and very easy to use and out of the box settings work for most users. If I ever want to whitelist some website that I want to support, the process is as simple as clicking the ‘power button’ in the uBlock Origin’s menu.
That said, all of these things are also just as straight-forward in Adblock Plus. The biggest difference between these two is the out of the box settings and performance. uBlock origin’s default filter lists are much more powerful than Adblock Plus’s, though you can add custom filter lists to customize both of them to your liking.
uBlock Origin is significantly less resource intensive and more efficient than Adblock Plus. uBlock Origin has several blocking modes and performance will be defined by how you set it up.
I suggest you try both of them yourself and see which one you like better. But in my opinion and after using Adblock plus for a long time, I think uBlock origin is significantly faster and more efficient than Adblock Plus and overall its a better adblocking solution.