uBlock Origin – Better Than AdBlock Plus?

uBlock Origin - Better Than AdBlock Plus?

People who have browsed the web for an extended amount of time are familiar with advertisements which are usually used to drive a site’s revenue, including this one’s. What some people may not know is that most advertisements can be blocked entirely using various adblocking extensions.

For those who don’t know, an Adblocker can turn your favorite webpage from this:

IGN website before using uBlock.

To this:

IGN website after using uBlock.

The most popular ad-blocking extension on Chrome and FireFox is AdBlock Plus, named as such as a competitor to the unrelated AdBlock has since fallen into obscurity and a messy development cycle. AdBlock Plus blocks all matter of advertisements on most websites and is widely adopted enough to even be compatible with most advertisements in plugins, like video players on YouTube and various other websites.

AdBlock Plus isn’t without its flaws, however. By default, it won’t block certain advertisements from Google, Microsoft, and other big companies because they’ve paid for the privilege to have some of their ads remain unblocked. Smaller websites with non-intrusive advertising apply for being on AdBlock Plus’ whitelist by default as well. AdBlock Plus is also known to be demanding on older machines, requiring a decent amount of processing power and memory that multiplies the more browser tabs and advertisements are being blocked.

Today let’s talk about a lesser-known adblocker that performs just as well as ABP and all the big boys, but without being in anybody’s pockets, with less than half of the performance requirements and, perhaps most importantly, without the hidden interests to compromise the experience.

This adblocker is called uBlock Origin.

With introductions out of the way, let’s start actually comparing the two.

The on-page interface for both plugins provides an easy button to enable or disable adblocking on the website you’re on.

uBlock's on-page interface

uBlock Origin’s on-page interface is minimal, only giving the adblocking toggle and some stats. The icons around allow the user to inspect page elements and list request logs, but for the most part these functions are extraneous and of no use to the common user.

AdBlock Plus' on-page interface

AdBlock Plus’ interface is notably larger, but gives more detail by default and provides sharing options should you want them.

Advanced users may prefer quick access to uBlock Origin’s advanced tools, but casual users may prefer AdBlock’s more simple set of functions. There’s not too much detail to go into here – while these are the parts of the adblockers you’ll most likely be acquainted with, they also don’t actually give you much in the way of the program’s greater functions. For that, we’ll have to go into their respective Options menus.

AdBlock Plus' options page.

AdBlock Plus provides a simple set of options based around filters, whitelists and whether or not their main button appears on every web page you’re on. AdBlock uses just one Filter list by default, though more can be added at the user’s whim.

Of additional note is the “Allow some non-intrusive advertising” button – remember what I said about Google and Amazon paying to get their ads through AdBlock Plus earlier in the article. This is how they get their way through. If you uncheck this box, however, their ads will be completely blocked as well.

uBlock Origin's options page.

Right away, it becomes apparent that uBlock Origin provides a greater set of customization, including the ability to block advertisement placeholders that can be spotted around the web by AdBlock Plus users. uBlock Origin remains independent, so there’s no option for paid advertisements to sneak their way through here.

In addition to adding filters and rules, uBlock Origin provides a large list of 3rd-party filters (called filter subscriptions by ABP) and has more of them enabled by default.

ublock-3rdpartyfilters

In closing, there isn’t a great difference between the two. Despite uBlock Origin having greater customization capabilities and using less system resources, AdBlock Plus is still perfectly fine at what it does.

If, however, you decide that you’d like a more powerful adblockerr, or if the one you have is using up too much of your precious processing power, consider making the switch.

If you are a uBlock Origin user, tell us more about it in the comments below.

42 comments

  1. I tried uBlock and found that it did not stop as many ads as ABP. Therefore I use ABP but I do not allow even non-intrusive advertising. I also use a Hosts file to redirect unwanted sites to the Bit Bucket in the Sky.

    • @Dragonmouth
      Really? That’s strange, uBlock uses the same filters that AdBlock uses plus a few more.
      Host file is great.

      • Unless the default lists are different – then you’ll get more/less being blocked, but it’s true that there really shouldn’t be any difference if you’re using the same list.

  2. I also notice that uBlock Origin misses a few more ads than ABP. They may use the same block lists, but perhaps there’s the way uBo parses and blocks ads that is less effective than ABP. I still prefer uBo because it is lighter on the resources and has a lot of great pre-chosen lists. On an older laptop, you do notice the difference.

    • @Dan:
      It works better for me, huh. Maybe you should enable more lists in uBlock?

      • Did you read what I wrote? For using the exact same block lists, uBo catches a little less (maybe 3-4) ads than ABP. Enabling more lists for both does not change a thing. And I use Fanboy’s Ultimate list, it is one list that merges four other lists. I used it for both ABP and uBo.

        • I dunno what to tell you. Using uBlock and ABP, both on default lists (with ABP’s non-intrusive disabled), I haven’t noticed a difference at all between the two’s ad-blocking methods.

  3. Didn’t ABP get busted for not blocking some basic ads on purpose? (like Google offered them $$ to not block AdSense ads?)

    uBlock was praised for blocking these on a default install.

    • Well, they didn’t “get busted” because they never tried to hide it in the first place. They allow for some “acceptable” ads by default, but you can still just disable this feature and block everything. They have to earn money somehow, and this is actually the most sensible way to do it. You know, not all ads are evil.

      • Any ad that stalks, surveils, collects data, retransmit that data, logs that data, etc… IS evil. There is no reason to break privacylaws and/or privacy rights in order to serve advertising.

      • No, you’re wrong. All ads ARE wrong. You’ve just never seen things done any other way in your lifetime, so you don’t know any better. Let me ask you this: Can you imagine life not a hundred years from now, but a thousand? Ten thousand? I can’t imagine what it’ll be like either. But I can imagine what it won’t be like. It won’t be a world in which consumption has continued apace. It won’t be a world where a tiny fraction of people has the great majority of society’s wealth. And there will therefore be no need for advertising — which is, after all, just a way to get you to buy something you might not even care about. Aside from the waste of talented minds who end up devoting themselves to creating ads, instead of doing the other wonderful things they are capable of. Don’t let multinational corporations control your emotions. They’re not the future. People are.

        • Just a short question.
          Did you ever see a newspaper or bulletin not showing ads?
          Stating that someone has never seen things in a differant way where even YOU can’t have done so as placing ads everywhere where they can is done for over more then 100 years is a very rude behaviour

          If you have studied organization management and product management you KNOW you have to market your stuff. Marketing=advertizing in some way.

  4. What I normally do after installing a Firefox addon is run SpyHunter 4. I found that 1. Firefox has not approved this. 2. The addon is contaminated with SNAP.DO. I am tired or scumware and will not use this.

    The Snap.do is a malware, also known as browser hijacker. Usually, most of the search engines are legitimate and not harmful; however, most of the browser hijackers are developed with one goal, which is to generate advertising revenues. Innocent users will be tricked into clicking on displayed ads or advertising banners, and the owners of malware will earn a fee for every click. You may find a lot of reports about the Snap.do and how it changes browser setting, installs unwanted toolbars without users’ consent, and how hard is to remove it from the system. All of that is done in order to guarantee the advertising earnings for the search engines.

  5. Hi Christopher,
    Please consider an article/tutorial on the “lists”, and the Hosts file.
    In other words, on integrating a list of the ad sites in the Hosts file (perhaps redirecting them) without affecting the pages you are browsing.
    I will give uBlock a try.
    Thanks.

    • I’ve messed with the hosts file before- sounds like a good idea, I’ll look into it!

      • What I meant about the hosts file was in context with this article, especially what Dan mentioned about fanboy’s ultimate list.
        I’m well familiar with the hosts file, but messing with it could become a two-edge sword. One could block access to legit sites.

      • I second that request. I’ve used ABP for years but given the resource usage of both I think I will try switching to uBlock origin on one of my machines to test the two. But I have never messed with adding any lists or changing any of the default settings. So an article on the lists and hosts files would be a great read and very helpful to me. Thanks for the info. I’ve never heard of ublock until today.

  6. Adblock sucks and cannot be trusted. With μBlock I can easy block those very disgusting ‘from the web’ ads also on this website, works great on Android as well.

  7. Where are the facts?

    Christopher, you say that uBlock has “less than half of the performance requirements” but I do not see any data in your article to support your statement.

    I do not see, in the article or in the comments, a single URL where one blocker works and the other does not.

    Without facts the content of this whole page is irrelevant.

    • You really think someone would do that? Just go on the internet and tell lies?

      I linked to a benchmark near the end of the article. You weren’t as thorough as you thought. https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock#performance

      Granted “half of” is concerning CPU resources.I ran my own benchmark some weeks ago, when I got this- about ten different websites on Chrome, using one AdBlocker in one session and another in the next.

      CPU numbers didn’t really change to a noticeable extent (because I have a high-end machine), but what I could clearly see was my memory usage. Once you start having a lot of pages open (especially where Chrome is concerned) you’re going to start seeing a lot of RAM consumption, and uBlock uses an amount noticeably less than ABP’s, at least on my machine. I have resources to spare, though.

      If you’re unconvinced by me saying this or that link, why don’t you go and try it out yourself? It’s free, you know.

      (Note that you’ll have to disable one of the two- they don’t run particularly well simultaneously, especially if you’re trying to benchmark.)

      • Your tests are more interesting than a link to figures posted by vested interests.

        Anyone can test using websites that favour their own product. They chose “eleven high traffic web pages”, not a round number like ten or twelve. Fifty would be more believable. They also show their competition using more memory than no blocker at all.

        I use firefox with ABP on a laptop with 512 mb RAM, often with around fifty pages open at a time, alongside a spreadsheet and a word processor. The figures you link to suggest that I should have got into trouble long before I opened all those pages. I am using a more recent version of ABP, so maybe the figures are out of date, or maybe the memory usage does not scale with the numbers of pages used. Maybe the memory usage comparison doesn’t hold up as you load more pages. Too many maybes, not enough hard data.

        If you want your articles to be outstanding, do the work, crunch the numbers, and provide independent figures, either your own, or from a source that might not have an interest in making the product look better than it is. Start doing that and I will follow your articles.

        Test it myself? Why would I bother reading someone else’s review if I was going to test everything myself? I only test after I have been convinced it is worth the bother.

        • … Are you implying that EVEN numbers of tests are somehow better than ODD numbers of tests? Literally that 10 is better than 11 based on the fact that it’s even divisible by 2? Are you implying that the testing that was done is invalid simply because it was 11?

          … i’m not sure whether or not to take you seriously…

          I don’t disagree with you about independent testing because more testing is always a good thing, but I’m really confused about what point you were trying to make…

          • Sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse. I wrote in a hurry, and probably didn’t make myself clear.

            I meant, when you set out to test something, before you start, don’t you normally say “I am going to compare this on X number of sites”? And isn’t it human nature to pick an even number? So an odd number makes me think that perhaps more sites were used, but the only sites reported were the ones that fitted the slant the author wanted the article to have.

            I always question when I see what could be data manipulation. If the author is honest, the answer will usually be a good natured expansion of the data, and my comments are used to improve future articles. If they get defensive, that tells me all I need to know.

        • Wow garville “with around fifty pages open at a time, alongside a spreadsheet and a word processor.” I am impressed with the speed of you processor and hard drive. I have 4GB of ram and I know if I opened all of that on my computer, it would slow to a crawl. You must know a lot more then me about how to set up a computer to do that. I’m impressed.

          • Yeah, my new brand new Windows 8 laptop with 8gb has problems with that many pages too.

            My old 0.5 gb laptop, running Puppy Linux, Open Office and Firefox, actually outperforms it.

            Just shows that numbers without context are a lot less meaningful than they seem.

        • Don’t know why you think this is time well spent, just compare the two and you’ll see that the difference is obvious. Sure, the test data could’ve been manipulated, but that’s only relevant if uBlock actually can’t crush AdBlock. Well, it does, so I don’t know why you feel the need to argue.

  8. Doesn’t AdBlock come with the warning ‘can go in and change the info you’ve entered’? Does uBlock do that too … ?

  9. Just installed uBlock Origin, and as a long-time ABP user I’m impressed. It’s quick, configurable, and lets me choose which lists I want (ads, privacy, malware, social, regional, etc.) and custom page elements to block like ABP.

  10. I love both Adblock Plus and U-Block Origin. I use U-Block Origin in Opera and Firefox since ABP uses too much ram in both these browsers. I use ABP in Chrome. I love them both. I have noticed that U-Block does block more but I do still love AdBlock Plus. I know Firefox claims ABP will not use as much memory in Firefox 41 but just to be on the safe said I went ahead and switched to U-Block. So far so good. feels good not to see that using too much ram please restart the browser message. :)

  11. uBlock Origin is currently the best adblocker. There is no need for Disconnect or Ghostery. Make sure all filiters are turned on except for Easylist without element hiding rules, Spam404, the merged list and leave all the country specific ones unticked (unless you are in that country.) Also tick the auto-update button so you can hide the newest ads.

  12. AdBlock Plus is great but I switched to UBlock Origin for CPU and memory purposes. Ublock definitely DOES block more ads than AdBlock Plus. I’ve seen it block up to 2000 ads in a 12 hour period whereas I’ve only seen Adblock Plus block about 250-300 ads in that same time space. I wasn’t even trying to pit them against each other, it’s just an observation I made.

    Plus when I switched to Ublock Origin in Opera browser it stopped using up so much memory. It definitely works better for Opera than AdBlock Plus does. It still doesn’t stop Firefox from hogging memory and crashing but it’s perfect for Chrome and Opera. UBlock Origin is worth testing aout. I didn’t want to make the switch from Adblock Plus at first, but so far it’s been worth it.

    • That’s good and all, but were you necessarily browsing the exact same pages and sites? Is uBlock Origin in that case also tracking/counting other elements being blocked?

      It’s rather difficult to pit two extensions against each other in a controlled fashion, not really looking to chastise you. But people should take opinions on the Internet with a grain of salt.
      I think the adblockers are really pretty comparable in the end if they use the same sources. It then later comes down to how they revise the page with those ads missing, and how easy it is to white/blacklist elements, scripts, items, etc.

      For that, I still found uBlock Origin more powerful but maybe quite overzealous in the things it tries to block, out of the box. For example, despite removing easyprivacy for my install, I found YouTube misbehaving in the Watch Later private playlist (clicking “remove watched” doesn’t work properly and takes multiple attempts). With easyprivacy enabled, you don’t even get a Watched status for videos, making the playlist completely useless. But that’s probably the whole point; not letting Google track what you’ve seen.

      Anyway I went back to ABP after a year or so on uBlock Origin; got tired of trying to narrow down where sites were misbehaving because of it, and I just appreciate how simple and elegant ABP is. Plus I’m not really CPU or memory constrained.

      Whatever works for you in the end!

  13. I’ve always used ABP but it does use a tremendous amount of CPU. I never heard of Ublock until today. I’m going to download it right now. Thanks everyone

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