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Is There An Effective Way To Kill Banner Ads? 37

2MuchC0ffeeMan asks: "Is there a way, in Windows or Linux, to kill ads? I saw a browser the other day for the Mac, and it could recognize and NOT load banner ads. Are there programs out there that take this a step further, and reject cookies from whoever is sending the ad? The thing is, I hate how the internet is becoming a huge database of user information. Surveys, user history, usernames, and preferences are becoming the buisness of tomorrow. With people like now selling user info, I would like to take a stand against this kind of practice." By now, most readers have heard about Junkbuster, and a few of you may know about Guidescope but many new Internet users may not, and there are probably other cookie/ad blocking sites out there that others might find useful. What are the possibilities that future browsers may incorporate ad blocking technuqies and what is the best way (aside from a "cookie-domain kill file" to detect a banner ad?
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Is There An Effective Way To Kill Banner Ads?

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  • I personally love adsubtract -
    it allows filtering of banners, popups, java, javascript, referers, animations, ads, etc.
    Configurable by site, latest version also will pull up a complete list of cookies on your machine and allow you to selectively delete them, as well as clear out your temp files

    Ive been using the various versions for the last 2 years, and it is the single best piece of software ive ever purchased. (no i don't work for them, just love the product)

    anyway, its another option for those of us stuck on windoze boxes
  • Have you tried Xitami? it's free, it's lite-weight and highly configurable. Definitely reccommended (sorry, no link off the top of my head).
  • Revise your rule (which currently blocks *.js*) to block *.js without blocking *.jsp, perhaps using indexOf() in conjunction length of the string.
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! []
  • Try naviscope [] for a Windows filter. It's the best I've found by some distance.
    It can also, optionally, filter cookies, java, popups as well as improving privacy (blocks system info, referrer info). It also does handy stuff like keep your system clock accurate.
    You can set up different filtering options for different sites very easily.
    Best of all, free to use.
    Another good method to block irritating advertisers is using the hosts file, though this can cause slow timeout problems with Netscape.

    <O O&gt
    ( \/ )
    X X
  • by Quietust ( 205670 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @10:16AM (#803739) Homepage
    ...that I find rather useful is to effectively blacklist the adbar sites. One way to do this (on your own system) is to add them to your hosts file (either c:\windows\hosts or /etc/hosts) to resolve to something like or (sample line: ""); most TCP/IP stacks (read: Winsock) will immediately error and refuse to connect to such IPs. If that doesn't work, put instead and run a tiny program on port 80 to give a null response on all connect attempts (or just immediately disconnect).

    A good list of adbar sites to blacklist:


    It's also a good idea to add in some of the 'nasty' sites the trolls post on /. (like, so if you accidentally click on such a link, you'll just get an error message instead of actually seeing the page.

    -- Sig (120 chars) --
    Your friendly neighborhood mIRC scripter.
  • by Hooha Man ( 228623 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @10:29AM (#803740)
    [] - an add-on for IE (not 5.5, yet) which informs you if the site you are visiting uses a tracking network. Also prevents cookies leaving your computer. Warning: this program sometimes causes IE to crash when I close the IE window. Nothing else crashes, and it's never crashed when actually in use. There should be a version for IE 5.5 and Netscape soon.

    [] Steve Gibson's pages. Lots of cool stuff, including information on how ad companies are abusing the privacy of net users.

    [] Look for 'Ad-Aware' - IMO the best spyware remover (see Steve Gibson's pages for a description).

    [] Hostess, a useful Windows app to aid adding entries to the hosts file.

    [] Info on using the hosts file. Has an example hosts file.

    [] Excellent privacy site, links and info.

    I'd post my hosts file but it currently has 7225 entries.

    <O O&gt
    ( \/ )
    X X
  • by booch ( 4157 )
    You can set up Squid [] to filter them out. I'm not sure of the details, but I know that it isn't too difficult. As an added bonus, Squid also speeds up many web pages, because its primary function is as a web cache and proxy.

    You can also set up ipchains to filter out certain IP addresses.

  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <> on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @10:31AM (#803742) Journal
    Don't click them.

    They'll die on their own (as they are beginning to do, if you've noticed that dot-commers with business models based on page view ad sales...are in the outs investment-wise).

    Another way: don't keep silent when your company uses them on its web sites -- complain loudly...

    Anybody else think this is a strange topic for Slash-banner-ad-revenue-model-Dot?

    hmmm...Well, it hasn't made front page...

    Now hiring experienced client- & server-side developers

  • The ad filter I've been using is WebWasher. Completely free of charge, with the only reminders being to update WebWasher. Free to educational and home users, $29.99 for business. Have a look.
  • missed one:
    [] Huge hosts file (currently 9326 entries), includes some stuff which isn't directly ad related - you may want to edit it before use.

    <O O&gt
    ( \/ )
    X X
  • There are a number of filters out there for squid which do a fairly good job of blocking banner ads.
  • Anybody else think this is a strange topic for Slash-banner-ad-revenue-model-Dot?
    Yes, although I suspect that the trained mammals are actively trying to find another revenue model as I type. I think we need an Ask Slashdot about the next internet revenue model after banner ads. I favour a subscription model or "product placement" (something like Deja has been trying -- eg; turn the word "Pepsi" in a message into an affiliate link to Pepsi Co.)

    And my suggestion for a filtering windows package is Proxomitron [] -- works best with IE5.x so you can disable javascript errors (it kicks up a few).

  • I tend to add the "banned" sites to my list of Restricted Sites in IE. Not perfect, and I still see the banner ads -- but no cookies, no doubleclick activex controls, etc.

    Not slick, I know, but hey, might be of use to someone....
  • I'm not thinking of blocking them, but writing some code to replace them with more useful stuff like:
    "Meeting at 3pm"
    "you have 3 new messages"
    "Bob's wedding - all invited"
    "You are surfing too much!"

    Wonder if people in my company would notice :).
    Right now replacing the images is relatively easy. But replacing the click throughs requires more work, and I'll need to be directly in the path.


  • by brad.hill ( 21936 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @11:50AM (#803749)
    You can create an autoconfig file in JavaScript and tell your browser to bypass the proxy for ad sites, thus using your firewall for an ad blocker. The only problem is that you have to load the JavaScript code ad sites want to send you. Browsers degrade a page gracefully if they can't find an image, but they usually fail hard if they can't find a bit of JavaScript code.

    Here's an example file. Save it as any filename you like, and set it as the location of your "Automatic Proxy Configuration" in your browser of choice.

    function FindProxyForURL(url, host) {
    //If only a hostname, go directly.
    if (isPlainHostName(host)) {
    return "DIRECT";

    // Remove a few ads
    if (
    url.indexOf("/RealMedia/") > 0
    || url.indexOf("") > 0
    || url.indexOf("") > 0
    || url.indexOf("/ads/") > 0
    || url.indexOf("/Ads/") > 0
    || url.indexOf("/adverts/") > 0
    || url.indexOf("/adserver/") > 0
    || ( dnsDomainIs( host,"") && url.indexOf("/adj/") == -1)
    || dnsDomainIs( host,"")
    || dnsDomainIs( host,"")
    || dnsDomainIs( host,"")
    || dnsDomainIs( host,"")
    || dnsDomainIs( host,"")
    && url.indexOf(".js") == -1
    && url.indexOf("") == -1
    && url.indexOf("") == -1
    && url.indexOf("jsad") == -1
    && url.indexOf("jscript") == -1
    && url.indexOf("addyn") == -1
    && url.indexOf("type=script") == -1
    return "DIRECT";
    return "PROXY /*Your proxy addr and port here*/";

  • While the link in the article to Junkbusters is good, development seems to have stopped.

    You can get a better version with updated blocklists and more Windows-looking from Stefan Waldherr [].
  • For the best bang for your buck on Windows, Norton Internet Security wins hands down. It blocks banner ads, allows you to add your own custom html strings to block, lets you block Javascript, Applets, ActiveX controls, animated gifs, referrers, cookies, user agent, and popup windows on sites.

    Not only that, but if you want to block cookies from but not, you can do that (and all of the above listed). [] is where to find it
  • The program you mentioned will also not accept cookies from the ad sites, most likely. The cookies get sent in the HTTP headers whenever the browser requests an ad banner. If the banner isn't requested, the cookies won't get sent.

    Incidentally, I'm writing a simple win32 program that employs the javascript-proxy-autoconfig method. Netscape automatically asks localhost, port 10401 (who knows where that came from...) for an ad, and my program happily returns a 1x1 transparent gif. It's amazingly simple, yet powerful... The program isn't quite fit for public consumption, really, and there are many other things out there that do the same trick, I'm sure...

    Do a google search for "proxy autoconfig block banner ads" or similar things, and you'll find plenty.
  • I have been Using a Program called CookiePal [] for years to control the cookies I allow on my machine in Windows. You can also opt-out of doubleclick. [] Although if you don't allow them to use cookies it doesn't matter.
    The only Banner Ad blockers thatI have seen simply prevent the display of pictures that are standard banner size: x pixels by x pixels.
  • Yes, mozilla really is constructed to "do the right thing".

    A web browser should be constructed to benefit the user. Mozilla allows you to selectively block ads from sites without prompting you over and over again. It also allows the same flexibility in dealing with cookies.

    There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that every web browser shouldn't have this simple capability built in. Except that the consumer has not demanded it, and there seems to be a bit of a monopoly on Windoze/Mac web browsers.

  • Don't use GIF []. Use a small PNG [] file instead (provided you have a 4.0 or later browser).
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! []
  • according to this line:

    && url.indexOf(".js") == -1

    wouldn't this effectively block other sites that use java server pages for legitimate purposes and not ad-serving?
  • What simple program can be run on windoze boxes to give a null response to all requests on I know how to do it on my linux boxes, it's called apache (ok, so its not a simple little program, but it works)

    I've tried a few free and shareware simple web servers, but none of them are configurable enough to always return a 1x1 clear gif pixel to any request. Mostly they just sit there and eventually time out, which slows browsing to a crawl, especially on the cascaded pages which wait until all banner ads have been fetched before rendering the whole page.

    the AC
  • A long time ago an outfit called Webtrack released a filtering proxy server for NT based on EMWAC HTTPS. The software was free, but you subscribed to a list of "bad sites" for some yearly rate. That software evolved into Secure Computing's Smartfilter.

    As I said, the software was free and comes with an evaluation of Smartfilter. It can operate without the list of "bad sites" and you can maintain your own list of "Don't serve these URLs". If you have trouble compiling Squid under Win32 this could be an alternative.

    IE5 finally separated cookies into their security zones. While Netscape 4.0 always had the "only accept local cookies" feature that defeats these trackers, IE5 lets you permit cookies per security zone. For instance, disable all cookies for the Internet zone and permit cookies for "trusted sites." I also do this with Javascript and Java, as many sites that need cookies to operate also use enough Javascript that you want to enable it for them.

    Finally IE5.5 has Netscape's "Accept only local cookies" switch. Finally they learn.
  • Please use PNG files for your customized advertisements. If you use GIF, Unisys will hunt you down.
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! []
  • i didn't mean JSP's i meant javascript files
  • As I mentioned, you can also try putting in an invalid address (like or; this way, WinSock will immediately dump the connection with a "Can't assign requested address" error. This makes things go nice and fast with Netscape 4.x and IE, though I'm not sure how Mozilla behaves.

    -- Sig (120 chars) --
    Your friendly neighborhood mIRC scripter.
  • for the proxy server, and for a frequently updated blocklist.
  • I use Junkbuster and it works well enough, but it has a basic flaw: It relies on a handmade-blacklist of banner servers, i.e., you find a banner advertisement source, and it is added to the regular expression list which constitutes the mechanism which recognizes ads and filters them.

    With this approach the list of banner servers is alway out of date, is labor intensive, prone to error, and javascript pop-ups are not automatically handled/culled off by Junkbuster - whether or not they're advertisements, they're annoying, so this would be a very useful capability to have in such a utility as JB.

    Junkbuster also doesn't do other things which could be very useful, e.g., culling "animated images, JavaScripts, Java applets."

    Siemen's, A.G. has put out, non-commercial use is gratis, a utility (Webwasher) for Win/Macs that's just excellent, containing these features. It would be great to have Junkbuster do these kinds of things too.

    The real nifty thing that Webwasher [] does is it does not rely on manual lists of banner servers to determine ad sources. Rather, it detects 3rd-party-domain supplied images.

    WebWasher Product overview:

    • Filters out unwanted advertising banners, pop-up windows, animated images, referers, JavaScripts, Java applets from Web sites
    • Bi-directional, automatic cookie filter

    Me pican las bolas, man!
  • This thread started because someone saw iCab.

    iCab is a wonderful browser in many ways. Ad blocking, cookie management, all the things a browser should have. Plus my personal favorite. Shift-Option click opens a link in a new window in the background. When I read /. I can open all the links in the back and read them when I get to it.

    iCab is available from or

    It is still in beta, and has been for ever. The author has promised that there will always be a free (beer) version and he refuses to take money for it until he considers it ready. I've tried to send him money a couple times. He doesn't want it.

    If you have access to a mac you should play with this thing. It has a lot of limitations (buggy script implementation and it crashes on a lot of https sites) but it is an amazing little program. But it has a lot of nice little features. It tells you if the source is compliant and even lists where it is missing.


    BTW, I second the suggestion for Naviscope. I'm spoiled on the mac. With WebFree and iCab I never see an ad or pop-up. I was going nuts until I found Naviscope.
  • I now use mozilla as my main browser. The latest nightly build has now reached a level of quality sufficient for most of my browsing. And it has the ability to block the loading of images from certain sites. If there is a banner on a page, just right-click on the banner and chose "Block images from this site". There are actually very few banner serving sites. Doubleclick being everywhere, and I mean really everywhere. there are a few others, but just blocking doubleclick has an enormous effect...
  • a cool little java proxy that uses all the more common tricks for filtering ads, disabling pop-up windows, etc. i've been using it for a year now and it keeps getting better. it is payware, but it's worth it.
  • Am I the only one that thinks the Guidescope thing is dangerous? They get a message about every site you hit. Do you really trust that their privacy policy as stated today will remain the same? Do you really want a central clearing house with records of your web history subject to subpoena in a lawsuit?

    Junkbuster and most of the other suggestions here blocks the stuff you don't want at your own computer, without sending out any info.

    Also, how does Guidescope intend to make money? Maybe the Opt-In thing will provide enough revenue because the database has more value to advertisers, but you have to visit their site again to get your ads.

    The whole thing feels very strange. I suspect it's an advertising/marketing thing to lull users into a false sense of security.
  • Thanks, that's the one I got :)

    -- Sig (120 chars) --
    Your friendly neighborhood mIRC scripter.
  • You can do it with Squid by using a redirector like Sleezeball []. It's very slick, and in my case, it ended up replacing JunkBuster.

  • I've been using Proxomitron [] in Windows for some time know. It can parse HTTP headers as well as content. I prefer it to firewall-based solutions since I can bypass the filtering with just a click in the system tray.

    For Mac, you can use iCab (as mentioned but not named in the article). To add filtering to any Mac browser, there's WebFree [](68k) or WebWasher [](PPC)

    But if you really want to kill 100% of annoying banner ads, use Lynx, w3m, links, or (Mac only) WannaBe^2.

  • Look closely at the code. You'll see that it only blocks where it matches an ad domain and DOES NOT CONTAIN one of the javascript indicator strings.

    This is because most browsers flub if they get blocked trying to load javascript. I allow it through therefore, but it can't annoy too much without any images anyway.

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.