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How I Blocked Ads Forever

I don't care that companies want to unethically track my browsing habits to make money out of it. What annoys me most is to see ads on every other article or blog I want to read, multiple ads before a YouTube video and a bunch of them in between. Ads on social media services is already on another level. It gets unbearable after a while.

I decided to work on a project when YouTube ads on my smart TV were getting out of hand. I'd already been using highly effective ad-blocking techniques for years for my everyday browsing and social media. But to remove YouTube ads from my smart TV was a challenge.

Here's a summary of all the ad blocking techniques I've been using over the years.

Blocking Ads When Browsing On A Computer/ Tablet/ Phone

  • Ad-block Plugins (browsers only) - This one's easy and almost everyone knows about this. But browsers like Google Chrome can be smart and ads do seep through.
  • Some browsers have inbuilt ad blockers and don't depend on plugins. I find Brave pretty convenient for me as it blocks ads almost entirely. But if you're conscious about your tracking know that it did get into a slight controversy recently.

Blocking Ads On Your Social Media Accounts

  • This is a neat little trick I use. Almost all websites nowadays can be "installed" as a PWA app on your device. The benefit of a PWA is that it takes very little devicespace (in Kbs, compared to its actual app size in Mbs) and is functional, sans the "rich" fluid-app feel.
  • All you do is login to your social media account on a ad-blocking (say, Brave) browser. You should not see any ads. Then from "Settings", select "Add This Site To Home Screen". It creates an icon for your "app" so you can access it conveniently.
  • This is more than enough to browse and use basic features. Works for any site - Twitter, Insta, Facebook, Reddit, 9Gag, Buzzfeed, Amazon, Flipkart, BookMyShow, etc.

Blocking Ads On Mobile Gaming Apps

  • You're out of luck if your game needs an internet connection to play. You can still try network level ad block below.
  • I enable flight mode (or just turn wifi/ mobile network off) before I start the gaming app. Ads will not load if there's no network (insert meme).

Blocking Ads On Your Smart TV (specifically on YouTube app on TV)

  • I initially attempted a network level ad blocker (using Raspberry Pi + Pi-hole) to disable ads on YT app on my smart TV but that didn't work for me. Turns out YT now serves ads and content from the main server and this makes it difficult for ad blockers to block ads on TV.
  • With some research, I decided to install an open source APK instead on my smart TV - SmartTubeNext. Best decision ever. I now watch all my YT videos ad-free. I can also login to my Google account on this app and fetch my existing channels and subscriptions from there. The UI is not just similar to the official YT app but has many more features to it as well (change theme, scale UI, change speed of video).
  • Google doesn't allow you to install this app from the Play Store (for obvious reasons). But you can download and install the SmartTubeNext APK directly from its GitHub repo using the Downlaoder app on your smart TV.

Blocking Ads On Your Entire Home Network

  • I had an old Raspberry Pi 3 lying around so I decided to take this up. If you have the technical know-how, you can buy a small Raspberry Pi kit and try this yourself.
  • I don't use this option much as I already have most of my ads blocked from the previous steps, but its good to have it setup nevertheless as a mechanism to block trackers.

Do you have any other ways that work for you? Please let me know. I'd love to try it out.

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