Ad Blocking Proxy Servers

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This page was automatically imported from the UseMod edition of KaminskiWiki. There may be formatting or link errors due to differences in wiki syntax or camelcase conversion. Please feel free to fix or let Peter Kaminski know if needed.

I recently reviewed a couple of Windows-based "ad-blocker" proxies for use with "those annoying pop-up ads." The ads actually don't annoy me that much -- I just close them without reading them. But with the new "pop-under," "exitstitial" and the like ads, I think the advertisers have gotten too clever for their own good. The delivery medium seems so manipulative and mercenary that I can't believe it's sustainable for long, and for that reason, not annoyingness, I've chosen not to even load them.

The Internet Junkbuster Proxy will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the first widely distributed, cross-platform, available-source personal proxy for ad-busting and cookie-crunching, and it was great for that.

However, I've recently switched to Proxomitron which provides a much more general web-filtering solution (albeit, unfortunately, only for Windows and with no source code availability). The basic premise is that it intercepts the HTTP and HTML conversations between your browser and web servers and rewrites small portions of it based on the rules you have chosen. As you probably know, HTTP and HTML form a simple programming language; Proxomitron allows you to make small "hacks" automatically and on-the-fly which, for instance, block pop-up ads. Or replace graphics that are the size and shape of banner ads with a transparent graphic, or disable all JavaScript, or kill background graphics, or MIDI music, or turn scroll bars on for all browser windows, etc. Lots of really cool stuff.

This sounds pretty technical, and unfortunately, it is. Fortunately, however, Proxomitron comes pre-configured with a bunch of rules that work well, with pretty reasonable defaults for what to change and what to leave alone. (I did disable the default User-Agent, which is cool but stands out. If you know what "User-Agent" is you might care, otherwise, don't worry about it too much.) And the upside of this approach is that it is really general and flexible about what you can change, and Proxomitron makes it easy if you know HTTP and HTML.

Since it works by replacing bits of code, there's a small downside potential, too. Proxomitron may not block things it should because its rules don't recognize the code; conversely, its rules may improperly block functionality that it should allow if the code snippet for it happens to match a rule. In practice, I haven't found this to be a problem, and Proxomitron is so configurable (including an easily accessible "bypass" button) that I don't worry about it. If a web page seems broken, remember to bypass Proxomitron and try it again, and watch for updates and updated filters on the author's web site, though.

For the sake of completeness, here are the other proxies I looked at. There are some other nice ones, but Proxomitron was far and away the best for me.

-- Peter Kaminski, 20010628


See also: http://www.schooner.com/~loverso/no-ads/

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