Saturday, November 13, 2010

Use Your Router to Block Ads

No new software releases or anything today. Just a tip to make your web experience better.

Have you ever been irritated at those ads all over the web pages you go to? I try to keep the ads fairly simple on my site, but I'm sure you've seen how bad it gets with all the blinking, animated "ooh, ooh, click meeeee!" ads.

I also want to give the kids in the house less opportunities to infect our network, so I came up with a nice way to make things a little simpler. I block the ads at my router. Most routers allow you to block web sites, and it's usually meant to keep kids from browsing to places you know they shouldn't be. Well, for some of those ads I think that qualifies as exactly what I want, so I just put the ad providers in my block list.

You can build your own list of ad providers to block by just hovering over all those clickable links and ads, and looking at your browser to see where it would send you. You may notice that some don't show you and address, so you may actually have to pop open some raw HTTP to look for those.

As an example, my new Netgear router pops up a nice replacement image whenever something tries to fetch an ad from one of my blocked providers. It says "Web site blocked by NETGEAR firewall" and fills up the spot the ad would have been using. My old Actiontec DSL modem had the same sort of feature, but put up a more generic error for the blocked ads. Both work great, so I suspect most modern routers will do just as well.

You may be wondering what ad providers I block personally, but I'm not going to give you a list. First, you may want to keep particular providers and nuke others. Second, I don't want them to be able to complain that I singled anyone out. Third, they change names, and new advertisers appear fairly regularly.

Also just so we're clear, don't go blocking the ads on MY web pages, or I'll lose out on the few cents a week I glean from those who want to see who my competitors are. :)

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