• Block ads with router

    You’ve probably heard of Pi-hole, an open source software package that runs on a Raspberry Pi and blocks ads on any device connected to your network. It’s efficient and cost effective, but requires you to have some technology know-how. This is a detailed write-up if you are interested in setting up Pi-hole by yourself:

    Install Pi-hole on Raspbian Lite From Scratch

    As of version v1.27, we’ve added Ad blocking to pcWRT. Behind scenes, we use the same technology Pi-hole uses. But the best thing is, you can easily enable Ad blocking with a single click on the Access Control page. And if you need access to a domain that is blocked by Ad blocking, just list it in the Allowed URLs box to bypass it.

    The domain names and number of requests blocked by Ad blocking are reported in the Internet Logs page.

    Update 5/2/2020

    One of the drawbacks of adblocking technologies like pi-hole is, there’s no easy way to unblock a domain that is falsely blocked (or needs to be temporarily unblocked). First of all, you have to find out which domains need to be unblocked. Then you need to whitelist the domains (in the pi-hole console, for example). Thirdly, you may need to repeat the previous two steps until it works. These steps are usually out-of-reach for the ordinary user.

    As of version v2.0.6, we’ve added a link on the router login page for the user to suspend/pause/resume adblocking on demand. The actions taken affect the current user only. For example, if Joe clicks suspend adblocking on his computer, adblock is suspended only for him. Other users on the same network still has adblocking enabled.

    If you use the pcWRT router for adblocking, it is recommended that you bookmark the Adblock Control page for easy access.

4 Responses so far.

  1. Michi66 says:

    Are you getting any performance complaints? I’ve had to disable it on mine because ping times go to heck in a handbasket.

    • pcwrt says:

      Impact on performance should be negligible, especially ping. Blocking occurs at DNS lookup, so no impact on ping response time.

      Specifically, what are your observations?

  2. abe says:

    Hi. I also had to disable adblock on mine. For example I was going to visit a NYTIMES article posted on FB, but somehow ad.doubleclick.net was being used to route in between them. So it blocked the visit entirely.

    I suppose I understand the technology that allows this to happen, but the functionality I was hoping for was that it would prevent ads from displaying within a page. (Somewhat like the Adblock Plus extension does in the Chrome browser. It doesn’t prevent you from visiting a site entirely, it just block the intrusive ads within the website.)

    Ideas? Am I doing anything wrong?

    • pcwrt says:

      Just like pi-hole, the router blocks ads by blocking requests to domains serving ads. This is different from browser side technology that actually downloads ad content but does not display it.

      On the router, doubleclick.net has been identified as a domain that serves ads, and it is blocked as a result. This has the side effect of blocking access to contents delivered through doubleclick.net. But the upside is, it also blocks the tracking cookies that follow you around the web. Browser side ad blockers, while offering more flexibility on how the web page is rendered, does not stop the tracking cookies.

      If you want to open up a domain that serves ads (with Ad block on), you may add the domain (e.g., doubleclick.net) to the white list.

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