Ghostery Review 2024: It's Like Ads Were Never There

Find out why Ghostery is a hauntingly effective way to block spooky ads and trackers to enhance your privacy.
4.3
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Ghostery's website

Ad Blocker
Ghostery
  • User-friendly design provides for seamless browsing
  • Keeps a regularly updated list of blocked trackers
  • Provides both whitelisting and blacklisting functionality
  • Struggled with all tracker tests
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Ghostery is a powerful and highly rated ad and tracker blocker that helps protect your online privacy by preventing websites from tracking your online activity and collecting your personal data. It comes with useful features like whitelisting and blacklisting capabilities and it can automatically decline cookies for you. 

We found that its user-friendly design ensure that your browsing experience is fast and seamless. During our testing, Ghostery blocked most types of ads, including banner ads and interstitial ads. However, it completely flunked our tracker tests, which could leave you open to data collection as you browse.

Let’s take a closer look at Ghostery’s blocking capabilities and performance, highlight its features, and help you determine if it's a solid privacy tool for your arsenal.

Pros
  • User-friendly interface
  • Comes with whitelisting and blacklisting features
  • Automatically declines cookies
Cons
  • Failed all tracking tests
  • Weaker performance on Safari
In this article
Overview
Our experience
Paid plan
Features
Test results
Compatibility
How to use
Alternatives
FAQs
Bottom line: Is Ghostery good?

Ghostery overview

Ads blocked on Forbes 9
Adblock Tester score 91/100
Cover Your Tracks score 0/3
Can You Block It score 3/3
Does it block YouTube ads? Yes
Whitelisting available Yes
Blacklisting available Yes
Compatibility Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera
Paid version Starts at $1.99/mo
Learn more Get Ghostery

How we test and rate ad blockers

Each ad blocker we review goes through a standardized test designed to push the limits of what the software is capable of. This includes vigorous third-party testing using websites like adblock-tester.com, coveryourtracks.eff.org, and canyoublockit.com. We also visit popular websites to test the ad blocker’s day-to-day capabilities, including watching YouTube videos and browsing Forbes.

Once we’ve completed the testing, we calculate our editorial rating by taking into account key features you’d expect from a good product. We score each ad blocker in the following categories and use a weighted average to calculate the final rating out of 5 stars:

  • Price
  • Test scores
  • Features
  • Browser support
  • Editorial score
4.3
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Ghostery's website
Ad Blocker
Ghostery
  • User-friendly design provides for seamless browsing
  • Keeps a regularly updated list of blocked trackers
  • Provides both whitelisting and blacklisting functionality
  • Struggled with all tracker tests

Our experience

We found Ghostery to be a great tool for blocking ads while browsing the web and watching YouTube videos. We thought it was easy to install as a browser add-on for various browsers and devices.

We tested Ghostery on our laptop using the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. We also tested it on an iPhone with Safari, and it still got the job done.

However, we did notice there were some key differences in its performance on different browsers. When we visited the Forbes website, Ghostery removed all visible ads on both Chrome and Firefox browsers, but Safari told a different story.

Ghostery didn't work well with Safari, and in an hour it detected 948 trackers.

Ghostery results on Safari.

In Safari, we noticed within the first couple of minutes that there were a total of 155 trackers, and that amount reached a whopping 948 about an hour later. A majority of them were site analytics trackers, while 99 were blocked ads.

Ghostery continuously blocked ads on Chrome.

Ghostery results on Chrome (simple view).

Ghostery was also effective at blocking ads on Firefox.

Meanwhile, Chrome and Firefox’s amount of ads and trackers remained relatively the same an hour later. Chrome reached a total of 10, while Firefox reached a total of 32 an hour later. We also tested it on Facebook, and it was able to block Facebook ads too.

Ghostery offers both whitelisting and blacklisting capabilities.

Ghostery’s features in detailed view.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed how easy it was to find settings in Ghostery and take advantage of its whitelisting and blacklisting functionality. We were able to block certain types of ads and specify which types of ads to block or allow.

Ghostery's settings were easy to find and adjust to block certain types of ads.

Overall, our experience using and testing Ghostery was great. The ad blocker was easy to install, and it blocked most of the ads from the websites we visited.

However, we don’t recommend using it on Safari, which may disappoint some Apple users, but that may change as Ghostery continues to improve. Even though we weren't able to test Ghostery on other browsers like Edge and Opera, we highly recommend using it with Chrome or Firefox.

Ghostery paid plan

Ghostery has a free ad blocker but you're also encouraged to become a contributor. Other features you can get for free from Ghostery include Ghostery WhoTracks.Me, for statistical reports on your trackers, and a Private Browser and Search. 

Contributors can help Ghostery fund the development of the Ghostery Privacy Suite. As a contributor, you'll also get extra features like historical tracker stats, advanced tracker analytics, and priority customer support. The paid plan also removes ads from the Private Search.

The contributor plan gives you two billing cycle options, monthly or yearly. It also gives you three payment options that remain the same regardless of which billing cycle you pick:

  • $1.99/mo
  • $4.99/mo
  • $11.99/mo
Free plan Contributor
Price Free $1.99–$11.99/mo
Ad blocking
Tracker blocking
Cookie consent blocker
Custom themes
Historical tracker stats
Historical tracker analytics
Ad-free Private Search
Priority customer support
Details View Plans View Plans

When we compared the free and paid plans against each other, we didn’t find the differences between them staggering. However, if you’re seeking additional details on tracker ads and want to support Ghostery’s work, then the contributor plan is the way to go.

Main features

Ghostery is a great privacy tool for blocking ads, which can improve the performance of the webpages you visit by reducing their load times. Its free plan includes the ad and tracker blocke, a never-consent feature, as well as whitelisting and blacklisting.

Let's break down Ghostery's key features.

Ad and tracker blocker

Ghostery automatically detects and blocks various types of ads, site analytics trackers, and social media trackers. Its intuitive user interface is easy to navigate, and it has an "ads blocked counter" that displays the number of ads that have been blocked on each web page you visit.

Ghostery ad blocker counter

Ghostery blocks ads and trackers through advanced technologies and analyzes and collects data from the top 10,000 updates. This data is continually updated and posted in a database at WhoTracks.Me. 

Additionally, the library is community driven and lets anyone submit a tracker they find on a company website, making it easier to add any trackers that may have been missed.

Never-consent

Ghostery's convenient “never-consent” feature can automatically decline consent on those pesky cookie pop-ups for you so that you don’t have to do any clicking. 

Whitelisting and blacklisting  

Ghostery also provides whitelisting and blacklisting capabilities that show up on its dashboard as “trust site” or “restrict site.” These options let you choose to allow or disallow trackers on each webpage you visit. From the Ghostery settings, you can also manually type which specific websites you want to trust or restrict.

However, the implementation of its whitelisting and blacklisting features can be a bit confusing. For example, when you choose to blacklist a website, it's not clear whether all ads from that website will be blocked or just some of them. Additionally, the feature that allows you to check the number of ads blocked can sometimes be unreliable.

Contributor-only features

Ghostery's paid contributor plan offers several features that its free plan doesn’t, such as historical tracker stats, advanced tracker analytics, priority customer support, removal of sponsored links when you use Ghostery’s Private Browser and Private Search, and custom color themes.

  • Historical tracker stats allow you to access data that has been collected daily, monthly, or cumulatively. It can show what trackers were detected and blocked.
  • Advanced tracker analytics provide insights into the types of trackers that are present and how often they appear.
  • Sponsored links, which are present in Private Browser and Private Search, can be removed for an even quicker and more secure browsing experience.
  • Priority support is also provided, ensuring that you get quick and reliable responses to your queries.
  • Custom color themes are available to make Ghostery more personalized for you.

With all these features, Ghostery's paid plans are worth checking out if you want an even more secure, private, and customized experience.

Ghostery's test results

We tested Ghostery using AdBlock Tester, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) Cover Your Tracks, and Can You Block It. 

AdBlock Tester checks for the presence of ad blocker software on a webpage. Cover Your Tracks tool evaluates the effectiveness of the ad blocker in blocking third-party tracking technologies such as web bugs, web beacons, and scripts. And Can You Block It tests if your ad blocker can guard against pervasive ads like ad blocker detection warnings, banner ads, and interstitial ads. 

Ghostery scores

AdBlock Tester Cover Your Tracks Can You Block It
Ghostery score 91/100 0/3 3/3
Test results as of 04/22/2024.

Ghostery got a near-perfect score with AdBlock Tester, having only missed the Google Analytics tests. This is a minor issue, since it's information that's only useful to site owners. Ghostery also passed all of its Can You Block It tests with ease. 

AdBlock Tester test results with Ghostery open in the foreground.

However, we were disappointed that Ghostery couldn't pass any of the Cover Your Tracks tests. This is a huge detriment if you're trying to stay anonymous online, as Ghostery provided no protection against third-party trackers collecting your data. 

Cover Your Tracks test results for Ghostery.
Ghostery failed all three tests in Cover Your Tracks.

Note that Ghostery can perform well against trackers if you opt to use its Privacy Browser and Search with the ad blocker. That would require switching browsers, which we imagine some may not want to do. 

YouTube ad tests

Overall, Ghostery was remarkably effective at removing YouTube ads. We were able to watch videos without any interruption. There were no ads between YouTube videos or in the middle of watching them. Also, there were no delays, lags, errors, or other problems that disrupted our viewing experience.

But you should keep in mind that some ads may still get through. This is because YouTube is always making changes to improve its ad system, so some ads may be tailored to get around ad blockers.

Lastly, it's important to remember that ads help YouTubers and other creators get paid, so if you enjoy watching a certain channel, turning off your ad blocker when you watch their videos can help them earn money.

Ghostery was effective at blocking YouTube ads.

Bypassing paywall test

Sometimes you find an interesting article while browsing and as soon as you read the intro, you'll find a paywall. This can be frustrating to say the least. 

Few ad blockers can bypass paywalls and unfortunately Ghostery is not one of them. We still were prompted to subscribe when clicking through articles from The Washington Post, Bloomberg and The Atlantic. 

What browsers and software is it compatible with?

The Ghostery extension is a powerful and versatile ad blocker that’s compatible with a number of popular web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera. It’s also compatible with tablets as well as iPhone and Android devices.

Ghostery is compatible with the following:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari
  • Opera
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Apple App Store (iOS devices)
  • Firefox for Android

How to use Ghostery

Ghostery is a completely free ad blocker, so you'll just need to select your preferred browser and download the Ghostery extension. Here's how to use Ghostery once you download the extension:

  1. On the Ghostery welcome page, click Enable Ghostery
    Ghostery welcome page with list of features and a button to Enable Ghostery
  2. On the setup successful page, you'll receive instruction on how to pin the extension for easy access.
    Ghostery setup successful page.
  3. With Ghostery on your toolbar, you can open the extension to pause ad blocking, whitelist pages, and more.

Top alternatives

We love that Ghostery is a free ad blocker dedicated to privacy. However, we were disappointed by certain issues like its lackluster Cover Your Tracks results and weak Safari performance. 

Here are some of our favorite ad blockers if Ghostery isn't the choice for you:



Threat Protection

CleanWeb
Best for Best for blocking YouTube ads Best overall Best for blocking streaming ads
Price Starts at $1.99/mo (billed annually) Starts at $3.09/mo (billed every two years) Starts at $2.29/mo (billed biennially)
Free version?
Adblock Tester score 100/100 93/100 96/100
Cover Your Tracks score 2/3 2/3 0.5/3
Can You Block It score3/3 2/3 3/3
Blocks YouTube ads?
Compatibility Android, iOS, Chrome, Edge, Safari, Opera Threat Protection:
Windows, macOS

Threat Protection Lite:
Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Edge, Firefox

Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, FireTV
Learn more Get Total Adblock Get NordVPN Threat Protection Get Surfshark CleanWeb

Ghostery FAQs


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Can Ghostery be trusted?

Yes, Ghostery is safe to use. Its transparent privacy policy indicates how your data is collected and used, and its software and comprehensive tracker library are regularly updated.

Ghostery also has a Data Protection Officer responsible for ensuring compliance with data protection laws and regulations, who can be contacted via email if you have questions or concerns. However, keep in mind that no technology is 100% foolproof against privacy threats.


+

Does Ghostery actually work?

Yes, Ghostery works by blocking targeted and malicious ads, as well as trackers, keeping your browsing activity and data private. In addition, Ghostery can make the web pages you visit load much faster.


+

Does Ghostery sell your data?

No. Ghostery’s privacy policy indicates it does not sell, rent, or lease your data to third parties.


+

Does Ghostery track you?

No, Ghostery doesn't track you. Ghostery is a privacy browser extension that blocks trackers and ads, preventing companies and other users from accessing your data.


+

What’s better than Ghostery?

Ghostery does a great job blocking ads, but there may be other ad blockers that you may find better suited to your needs including Total Adblock, NordVPN Threat Protection, and Surfshark CleanWeb.

Bottom line: Is Ghostery good?

Ghostery is a reliable and effective ad blocker against pop-ups, banner ads, YouTube ads, and more. It can also automatically decline cookies, saving you from having to do so manually, and gives you control over whether to block or allow ads or trackers on specific websites.

On the downside, when we tested it on various browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, its performance was much weaker in the Safari browser. It also failed all three tracker tests, which makes it less appealing for privacy-focused users. 

For more well-rounded tools, we recommend reviewing our top alternatives to Ghostery

4.3
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Ghostery's website
Ad Blocker
Ghostery
  • User-friendly design provides for seamless browsing
  • Keeps a regularly updated list of blocked trackers
  • Provides both whitelisting and blacklisting functionality
  • Struggled with all tracker tests
Author Details
Mars is a California-based cybersecurity professional and writer currently pursuing a B.S. in Cybersecurity. With interests ranging from OSINT to ethical hacking and threat intelligence, Mars leverages his two years of writing experience to produce informative content on topics such as Internet guides and VPNs.
Steph Trejos is an Editor at All About Cookies, leveraging her expertise in the cybersecurity field. She holds a B.A. in English: Editing, Writing, and Media, as well as Media/Communications Studies. With over five years of professional writing experience, she has garnered recognition for her work on anti-financial crime topics, such as money laundering, terrorist financing, and cyberthreats.