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How to block ads on your Android (and save data!)

Kris Carlon
53

Ads and pop-up windows on your computer are one of the most annoying things in the world, and that's why practically everyone has a pop-up and ad blocker installed on their desktop. But for some strange reason not everyone bothers to do the same thing for their Android - and then suffers from various sites that pop up more windows and tabs than you can poke a honey-covered stick at (for catching the pop-ups with, you see). Suffer no more! We'll show you the best way to block ads, including pop-ups, on your Android and save some of your precious data at the same time. 

ad blockers
You can disable ads, video ads, sound ads and pop-ups (as well as all ads!) / © AdBlocker

Did you know that all those ads (static and video) actually use up tons of your data allowance? Just think about it. If you load a web page and there's a bunch of video ads playing on the side the entire time you're on the site, that data flow has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is your data plan. So installing an ad blocker on your Android can not only save your sanity but also your hip pocket.

AndroidPIT Chrome Settings
Make sure your browser has popups blocked, and turn Reduce Data Usage ''On''.  / © AndroidPIT/Google

For starters, you can use a browser like Chrome that automatically blocks a lot of pop-ups. That's going to be a major boost to your sanity levels. You can also go into your Chrome Settings > Bandwidth Management > Reduce Data Usage to save even more of your precious bits.

AndroidPIT Adblock Plus Install
Hit the APK link on your Android and install Adblock Plus. / © AndroidPIT/Adblock Plus

I'm rooted, so I used Adblock Plus. Simply hit the link on your Android, download the Adblock Plus APK (you'll need to enable Unknown Sources in your Security Settings first) and launch it. If you're rooted, Adblock Plus will ask you for Superuser permission. Grant it and you're done. You can then choose a subscription – EasyList is fine – and decide if you want all ads blocked or just ''inappropriate'' ones. It's up to you if you can handle some advertising or want everything blocked. Inappropriate ads include video ads and those with sounds etc.

AndroidPIT Adblock Plus Settings
Pick your subscription, uncheck Acceptable Ads and ditch that icon. / © AndroidPIT/Adblock Plus

To hide the icon in your notification drawer you can tick the box but this will only make the notification icon invisible. If you want it out of your notification bar entirely you'll need to go to your device's Settings > Apps > Adblock Plus and uncheck the Show Notifications box.

AndroidPIT Adblock Plus Proxy
You'll simply have to configure your own proxy settings if you're not rooted. / © AndroidPIT/Adblock Plus

If you're not rooted, don't despair. You simply need to do a little more leg work with your proxy settings. Just go to your Settings and select Wi-Fi, long press the connection you're on (you'll obviously need to do this for all of the Wi-Fi networks you regularly log into) and select Modify Network. From here, go down to Show Advanced Options and switch the Proxy Settings to Manual (it'll be set automatically to None). This will bring up further options: you simply need to change the entry in the Proxy Hostname field to localhost and the Proxy Port to whatever number Adblock Plus has told you to change it to. For me it was 2020. You don't need to add any exceptions.

AndroidPIT Adblock Plus Before After
Et voila! Before and after - ads versus clean white space. / © AndroidPIT

Now, you can set your notification options as above and start launching ad-heavy websites as much as you like. Instead of seeing all the banner and sidebar ads you'll just get white space – it may seem a little weird at first but that nice ''breathing space'' is actually kind of nice once you get used to it. Not to mention the fact that you won't be seeing all sorts of flashy, noisy and moving image ads all of the time. Some sites, like Forbes, will still show their initial pop-up advertisement, but there will be nothing in it. Some of these are unavoidable. Combined with Chrome's pop-up blocker (plenty of other browsers have similar functions), Adblock Plus will save your sanity, your data and your impulse to consume.

Do you use an ad blocker or pop-up blocker on your Android? What combination do you use?

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Comments

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  • Zaid Siddiqui 10 months ago Link

    I'm sorry but that trick for non rooted phone one is not working for me! :/

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

      Hi @Zaid, what's the problem? Are you getting the Proxy Configuration message from Adblock Plus with the instructions (as in the second last screenshot above)? Make sure you enter the right Proxy Port number!

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  • Tricia_TD 10 months ago Link

    I have a non-rooted Samsung Galaxy Note. Although I have my Settings to enable Adblock to be downloaded, after I downloaded the adblock file, I get the message 'Cannot open file'.

    Is there something else I should be doing?

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

      Hi Tricia, I occasionally have problems downloading APKs directly to my device too. You can try downloading the APK to your computer and sideloading it to your Android with a USB cable. Sometimes I have to switch download managers (from Chrome to ES File Manager to Astro) a couple of times on my Android before the APK will download properly. The sideload method usually avoids this issue.

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      • Tricia_TD 10 months ago Link

        Hi Kris, Thanks for replying. Do I download the Android APK to my computer? I don't know what sideloading means! Do you have and idiots guide to how I do this?
        Thanks again.

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  • Saem Sarguroh 10 months ago Link

    download the apk on your device and manually install it. Its sideloading. Apps through google play are directly installed.

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    • Tricia_TD 10 months ago Link

      Hi Saem, I have downloaded the APK directly onto my phone, but it won't install manually or otherwise, which is why I made my first post.

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

        Hi Tricia, all you need to do is download the Android APK directly onto your computer (but don't open it or anything), then plug your phone into your computer with a USB cable and copy the APK to your Android. it doesn't matter where, as long as you can find it again. I'd suggest your Downloads folder. Then, launch a file manager on your phone (whatever one you prefer, if you don't already have one I'd recommend ES File Manager), find the APK you copied over and launch it - it should install exactly as it would if you installed it from the Play Store.

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      • Tricia_TD 10 months ago Link

        Hi Kris, thanks for that. It sounds simple enough, and I'll let you know how I get on!

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      • Tricia_TD 10 months ago Link

        ..

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      • Tricia_TD 10 months ago Link

        Hi Kris, It was straightforward until I tried to install. Package installer was fine, but when I tapped the install button, on the "Do you want to install this application" page, nothing happened. The button didn't even change colour, as is normal when you tap a button, and it wasn't greyed out either.
        Help!!

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

        Hi @Tricia, I've never encountered a breakdown in the install procedure on that screen. Usually it'd be messed up beforehand or after! The only thing I can think of would be to try the download and install again.

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      • Tricia_TD 9 months ago Link

        Hi Kris. I tried it two or three times, with the same result. I guess I'll just have to be ABP free :-(

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

        Hi @Tricia, my only guess is that perhaps you forgot to check the box for ''Unknown Sources'' in your device's Security Settings. You'll need that box checked to be able to install an app/APK from outside the Play Store.

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      • Tricia_TD 9 months ago Link

        That was the first thing I did Kris :-(

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

        Ok, how about making sure Verify Apps is NOT checked in the same security settings? Your device may be disallowing installation because it thinks ABP is dangerous? Although I have Verify ticked on my phone and it still worked ok...

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      • Tricia_TD 9 months ago Link

        I've just tried that, and it wants me to tick the box before I can go any further.

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

        Harumph! Last ditch guesses: have you got sufficient storage space to install it? Have you managed to install any other APKs? Have you wiped your cache partition (via the Recovery Menu)? I'm starting to clutch at straws now, @Tricia!

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      • Diptangshu M. 4 months ago Link

        Hi Tricia;do you have Twilight installed?
        If not,check if the size of the apk you downloaded is big enough.Did you pause the download once?Try downloading the apk again and try to install it after a restart.
        What device have you got?

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  • Nikhil Vartak 10 months ago Link

    Hi Kris, I downloaded and installed adblock plus as well as changed proxy settings of wifi to localhost and 2020. Everything was simple but when opened this post url again, I could see Google ad at the end of the article.. I expected it would get blocked. My phone is not rooted.

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

      Hi @Nikhil, you can check to see if you've got the Acceptable Ads box checked. If so, Adblock plus wills till let through what it deems to be acceptable ads - basically static ads, so if the ads you're seeing after installing the app are standard image ads, that check box may be the solution. Personally I'd rather see blocks of white space rather than any ads at all. Remember you need to set the process up for every Wi-Fi network you use too!

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  • Marti Chronic 10 months ago Link

    Hi, Kris, I've done everything in your instructions through changing Proxy Port to 2020, which I believe is the last instruction. However, the "Save" button is grayed out and only the CANCEL is available. What am I missing? Is there something I am supposed to put in the "Bypass proxy for" line?

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

      Hi @Marti, if your phone is not rooted, you should have seen a popup that would give you the specific number to enter in the Port setting. It may not be 2020, that's just what it was for me when I tested the process without granting root access. The most likely reason the Save button is greyed out is because you haven't added localhost to the Hostname section. once you've done that it should let you save it.

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      • Marti Chronic 10 months ago Link

        Thanks Kris. That worked.

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      • Sharkhark 5 months ago Link

        Hi, this doesn't work for me. I get thru all the steps, installed app, got into advanced section but after entering localhost then 2020 the grey save button stays grey.

        I'm so close but can't close the deal.
        Help!

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 5 months ago Link

        Have you entered localhost into the proxy hostname field? That's usually what stops you being able to click save.

        Edit: Just realized you said you did already! I really can't think of another reason why you wouldn't be able to click save.

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  • Tanishq Jain 10 months ago Link

    It worked only for the first time. The next page I opened was the same ad-filled.

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  • Jochen Wahle 9 months ago Link

    It worked for me immediately.
    Thank you.

    In the heading you write "(and save data!)"
    We all (normally) have data plans with our mobile provider.
    But adblock only works for WLAN.

    How can I set up it for my mobile data plans?

    Thank you
    Jochen (Germany)

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

      Hi @Jochen, as far as I'm aware Adblock Plus blocks ads on Wi-Fi and 3G/4G if you have root (which I do). Unfortunately, I don't use mobile data because I'm permanently surrounded by Wi-Fi, so I didn't test it. But the Chrome tips were meant to limit data usage on cell networks too.

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      • Marti Chronic 9 months ago Link

        sorry to be dumb but what does it mean to "have root"?

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

        Hi @Marti, no apologies necessary. Root simply refers to having root access to your device. It's a fairly simple process (depending on your Android's manufacturer). But it essentially gives you complete control over your phone - lets you delete pre-loaded apps, play around with otherwise hidden settings, allows you to speed up your CPU or undervolt your battery, use root-only apps - basically just mess around however you like. But with more power comes more responsibility...

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  • Jochen Wahle 9 months ago Link

    Hi @Kris,
    My Android is not rooted and (therefore ?) Adblock Plus doesn't block ads on 3G/4G.
    Which is a pity.
    With Wi-Fi I don't really mind the ads.
    (My brain "erases" them automatically.) ;-))

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

      Hey @Jochen, my bad - I'll look into a 3G/4G option next week!

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      • Brent Carlson 7 months ago Link

        Hi Kris,

        Have you looked into the 3G/4G option yet?

        Thanks.

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 7 months ago Link

        Hey Brent, I did, but everything I looked at wouldn't work for data because ad blocking requires a proxy. If you hear of anything I'd be keen to hear about it so I can test it out.

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  • ma collins 9 months ago Link

    I have an LG Optimus G which is unrooted. I've taken the all the steps to activate ABP, including setting the port to the specified 2020. The only setting sill greyed out is 'bypass proxy for'. I've tried everything I can think of. It states "The HTTP proxy is used by the browser but may not be used by the other apps." It calls for something in the format of "example.com, mycomp.test.com, " which is greyed out also. I've entered my browser address, none, all, and so forth, but Save is still greyed out. I use ABP on my PC, and I love it. Now if I can get your help on this one I can live in peace & harmony with the universe.

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

      Hi @ma, as mentioned above, just enter: localhost in the Proxy Hostname field and hit Save.

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      • ma collins 9 months ago Link

        Hi Kris, the hangup I'm getting is the 'bypass proxy host ' setting. Everything I try won't remove the greyed out Save option and let me activate ABP. Thanks again for your help.

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      • User picture
        Admin
        Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

        Hi @ma, there's no necessity to enter anything in the bypass field. As long as you have the proxy number and localhost entered, the save option should be available.

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  • Random Username 9 months ago Link

    Can you tell us how ABP fares against AdAway and other ad-blockers?

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  • sadiq sam 9 months ago Link

    I say it is working like a charm here. thanks.

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  • albert teh 9 months ago Link

    Occupies alot of ram on the handset and the browser webpage are not showing correctly. Either way, thou it has blocks ads but it own use up lots of data too.

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 9 months ago Link

      Hey @Albert, the reason ABP ''uses'' a lot of data is because all of your browser traffic is filtered through ABP first, in order to block the ads. So it's technically not ''using'' data, rather, it's just that the data you're already using is being attributed to ABP because it acts as a filter before it reaches your browser. Here's ABP's FAQ: https://adblockplus.org/en/android-faq

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  • Johans Doe 8 months ago Link

    A good article with useful apps.

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  • Necromancer18 8 months ago Link

    Its works...but it kind of slows my wifi down while browsing on chrome....Is there any way to exclude the chrome app for android from the proxy settings...?

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    • User picture
      Admin
      Kris Carlon 8 months ago Link

      Hey @necromancer18, no way that I'm aware of. But excluding Chrome would basically defeat the purpose of installing an ad blocker because then you'd get ads in your browser. Of course, you could just turn ABP off when you want to browse with Chrome.

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  • Web Future 4 months ago Link

    Better install this program
    ***Admin edit: external links are forbidden.

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  • Albert U. 4 months ago Link

    The only surefire way to get rid of ads is to root the phone and install AdAway through F-Droid. No proxies or other funky stuff involved, no slowdowns either.

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  • David Power 3 months ago Link

    After using Ad Block Plus for a few weeks I've come to some conclusions.

    Yes, it works. Not having ads popup in-app is very nice. Some apps are unusable otherwise.

    However, and this is a big however. Quality of service is drastically affected. Google Now fails to load sometimes. Voice recognition services fail to reach the servers they depend on sometimes. Websites refuse to load sometimes. Some apps won't load as they have done something funky with the way they load ads. Internet browsing is slower and lastly. Each website viewed requires significantly more CPU + RAM to load, draining battery faster.

    I said something a lot in my cons paragraph. That's because it didn't always happen. I get the impression this is a timing issue brought on by the sheer number of web resourslces loaded that need to be checked against the massive internal blacklist Ad Block Plus stores on the device. Its possible a website might make 20+ web resource requests per load (maybe more the first time the site is accessed). iframes being a big issue here as they are basically little windows loaded with separate web requests to different servers.

    In the end I deleted Ad Block Plus as I wasn't happy with the negative side affects.

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  • Saikrishna Parnapalli 3 months ago Link

    Does it work only over a wi-fi connection or over a data connection too...... ?!! bcoz i use the latter one more

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  • Kitbok Kynjin 2 months ago Link

    Or you could just use UC browser it does the job well.

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  • Le Fede 1 month ago Link

    Just rooted my device (SuperSU) to get ABP to work on 3G, enabled Unknown Sources, downloaded ABP , granted SU...and nothing! Rebooted, checked in SSU and ABP is listed as "Grant"....same...any pointers?

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    • Le Fede 1 month ago Link

      Nevermind, I figured it out :)

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