Ad-blockers are amazing – not only do they make the web less cluttered, but they also keep you safe from unknown malware hiding in the ads themselves. Some VPN services also include them, on top of filtering other potential dangers, such as malware or phishing domains.
But is it actually worth having a VPN with a built-in ad-blocker? Let’s find out.
Why Do You Need a VPN?
To keep it short, VPNs help protect you from hackers, greedy Internet providers that want to sell your data, and even government surveillance. They do so by encrypting (or garbling) your data until it can’t be read by any potential eavesdroppers.
This also unintentionally prevents bandwidth throttling from your ISP. You know; when your provider slows down your streaming and download speeds to “solve network congestion issues.” While that’s up for debate, the fact that your ISP won’t be able to throttle your connection isn’t.
They simply won’t be able to see if you’ve started your weekend Netflix binge, installing a game on Steam, or watching funny cat videos on YouTube. And if they don’t know what you’re doing, they can’t slow you down. Pretty useful, right? Note that this won’t prevent throttling caused by going over your monthly data caps.
Other than that, you can mask your IP address with a VPN, hiding your real life location for both privacy and entertainment purposes. For example, you can access geo-restricted content on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more. You may also bypass Internet censorship in countries like Russia, China, and the like by changing your IP (and thus virtual location).
Now, some VPNs have started implementing ad-blockers / phishing and malware filters into their apps. How successful were they, you ask? Just read on for the details.
The Benefits of an Ad-blocker
Apart from removing distracting advertising online, regular ad-blockers can:
- Make websites load more efficiently
- Block ad trackers that could create an online ad profile about you
- Reduce bandwidth and battery usage on mobile (your data plan will thank you)
- Protect you from malware embedded in online ads – see the case of The New York Times and other publications getting hit by malvertising back in 2016
All in all, you can’t really fault ad-blockers for much. Well, aside from those that started allowing “acceptable ads” at least. You should be the only one in control of what ads you see (if any). Want to whitelist a website or YouTube channel to support the creator? That’s entirely up to you.
What about VPN ad-blockers, though? Are they as effective out in the wild as their browser extension alternatives? For the most part, yes. Naturally, there will be some limits to what they can accomplish. For instance, VPNs may not be able to filter embedded ads, such as those found on YouTube.
Furthermore, some companies constantly find workarounds to ad-blockers, making their ads a pain in the neck to get rid of. See Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and many others. In fact, their ads may even avoid dedicated blocking software every now and then. That is, until the dev team or community filter admins pick up the slack and patch things up.
VPN with a Built-in Ad-blocker – The Verdict
All things considered, the ad-blocking, anti-phishing, and anti-malware capabilities should come in handy. Especially if you’re looking for a touch of extra security wherever you can find it. And as it happens, most of the VPNs with ad-block included are also among the top providers in the industry. The fact that you get to remove pesky ads with an already flexible application is just the icing on the cake.
That being said, they’re not exactly the most efficient if you’re going for full-spectrum blocking. If you find yourself inundated by ads on social media, getting an extension like uBlock Origin might be the better solution. Remember that you can always turn off a built-in blocker from the VPN settings, and see which of them is best suited to your browsing habits.
Of course, some operating systems (like iOS) may be a bit finicky with ad-blockers, so you’ll need a dedicated solution for your device. Find out more laser-focused ad-blockers by following the link at the start of the article.