uBlock Origin Review 2024: Is It the Best Free Ad Blocker?

After testing uBlock Origin, we learned it performed as promised and is an effective content blocker.
4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On uBlock Origin's website

uBlock Origin
  • Free and open-source
  • Compatible with multiple browsers
  • Some features require technical knowledge
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uBlock Origin is a free, open-source content filtering extension with countless features so you can customize your ad blocker experience. Overall, it performed as promised and worked effectively to block ads, but some features require technical knowledge that may go over beginners' heads. 

Read on to learn about how we tested the uBlock Origin browser extension, its features, and more.

Pros
  • Free and open-source
  • Compatible with multiple browsers
  • Blocks multiple types of ads effectively
Cons
  • May interrupt other security browser extensions
  • Some features require technical knowledge
In this article
Overview
Our experience
Features
Test results
Compatibility
How to use uBlock Origin
Alternatives
FAQs
Bottom line: Is uBlock Origin good?

uBlock Origin overview

Ads blocked on Forbes 18
AdBlock Tester score 100/100
Cover Your Tracks score 2/3
Can You Block It score3/3
Does it block YouTube ads? Yes
Whitelisting availableYes
Blacklisting availableYes, dynamic filtering rules
Compatibility Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari (prior to 13), Opera, Chromium
Paid version N/A
Learn more Get uBlock Origin

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 star rating out of 5:

  • Price
  • Test scores
  • Features
  • Browser support
  • Editorial score

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On uBlock Origin's website
uBlock Origin
  • Free and open-source
  • Compatible with multiple browsers
  • Some features require technical knowledge

Our experience 

For us, uBlock Origin was effective at blocking ads across most websites. It was easy to install and effectively blocked ads from initial deployment. 

uBlock Origin functions by filtering out elements on webpages that would otherwise interrupt your viewing experience. When you load a page, it checks it against a database of filters and removes anything that might cause issues, such as ad trackers and other ad placements. 

uBlock also doesn’t receive payments to allow what’s known as “acceptable ads:” ads deemed by other ad blockers like Adblock Plus to not interfere with your content.[2]

uBlock Origin Chrome extension plug-in.

uBlock Origin Chrome extension plug-in.

For more advanced users, you can whitelist certain sites. To do this, we had to mark a website as trusted to allow ads on it. This works great if you want to support your favorite creators on sites like YouTube. You can also remove specific buttons and ad placements. 

If you decide to use uBlock Origin, you need to install the extension on all your web browsers to fully protect your privacy. For Google users, the extension will only successfully block ads on that browser profile. 

For example, if you have multiple browser profiles for various members of your household, you will need to download the extension for each browser profile. Additionally, uBlock Origin isn't available for Android or iOS, except if you use it as an add-on for Firefox.

Main features

uBlock Origin labels itself as a wide-spectrum content blocker with several features to block ads, tracking, malware, and other annoyances. It was created by Raymond Hill in 2014 and continues to be maintained and actively developed by him as an free and open-source extension

Ad blocker counter

The Forbes homepage along with the uBlock Origin browser extension indicating how many ads were being blocked on the page.

The ad blocker counter tells you the number of ads and trackers blocked on the website and individual webpages. Its block counter also shows you the number of ads blocked to date and on the current browser page. uBlock Origin also provides warnings if you navigate to websites that are malicious, have spyware, or have notable privacy and tracking issues.

Advanced filtering

uBlock Origin's available filter lists and customization options

uBlock Origin has several different filters lists that you can enable depending on your preferences. 

The EasyList is the primary filter list that removes most ads from from webpages, inclding unwanted frames, images, and objects. The EasyPrivacy list tackles blocking trackers like web bugs, tracking scripts, and information collectors. There's also the Online Malicious URL Blocklist, Peter Lowe's ad tracking list, and countless others. 

Customizable blocking modes

uBlock Origin's default behavior customization options.

The extension offers easy, medium, and hard blocking modes for all levels of users. Elevated features for more advanced users include the element zapper, which removes specific social media icons and buttons from webpages, and the element picker, which can permanently remove these elements.

uBlock Origin user resources

Along with uBlock Origin’s beneficial features, it also offers several resource libraries. uBlock’s repository of help for installation includes a dedicated Github and a subreddit.

Although this ad blocker can work effectively for less tech-savvy users, more advanced users may want to create custom filters or change privacy settings. In addition to the Github site, which offers guides on these customizations, the uBlock subreddit designed to help users connect and share their experiences with this tool.

uBlock Origin's test results

To review uBlock Origin, we used ad-block website testers, including AdBlock Tester, Cover Your Tracks, and Can You Block It. Each of these tools tested several factors to determine whether uBlock Origin works effectively. 

We also tested uBlock Origin Lite, the newer version of uBlock, after Google disables older extensions built with Manifest V2. 

AdBlock Tester tested uBlock Origin against contextual advertising, traffic analytics tools, banner advertising, and error monitoring. Contextual advertising collects data about users in order to find the right ads for you. Traffic analytics tools are used to monitor your actions on a website and collect information about you. Finally, error monitoring is used to track and measure errors on websites.[3]

uBlock Origin and uBlock Origin Lite both got perfect scores from AdBlock Tester. With uBlock Origin Lite, it initially received a 96/100 score. Once we bumped up the filtering mode from basic to complete, it received 100/100.

uBlock Origin's AdBlock Tester 100/100 results.

Cover Your Tracks tests for blocking ad tracking, invisible tracking, and fingerprinting. Invisible tracking is when data tracking elements are hidden in websites to obtain information on you. Fingerprinting is the term for how tracking sites piece together user data to form a “fingerprint” of your device.[4]

We were pleased that both uBlock Origin and uBlock Origin Lite received a 2/3 Cover Your Tracks score, providing strong protection against tracking ads and invisible trackers. 

uBlock Origin's Cover Your Tracks test results.

Can You Block It is an easy-to-use browser test that lets you know the different types of advertisements blocked. These include the "disable adblocker" warning, banner ads, and interstitial ads (or ads that pop up before the page actually loads).[5] uBlock Origin successfully blocked all the ads. How do we know? Because we didn't see any. That's how simple the test is. 

uBlock Origin scores

AdBlock Tester Cover Your Tracks Can You Block It
uBlock Origin score 100/100 2/3 3/3
uBlock Origin Lite score 100/100 0/3 N/A

Test results as of 04/17/2024.

YouTube ad test

Advertisers and content creators have been able to monetize on YouTube thanks to ads and sponsored content. However, it can make the viewing experience annoying for YouTube users. That's why we also check the ad blockers we review based on their ability to block YouTube ads.

From our research and testing, we determined uBlock Origin was effective at blocking banner ads and even many video ads on the YouTube website. This is especially impressive following YouTube's recent crackdown on ad blockers, making uBlock Origin one of the best ad blockers for YouTube

However, you won’t find as much success while using the YouTube mobile app, as uBlock Origin is currently only available as an extension for web browsers.

Ads support your favorite YouTubers to share their content. You may want to consider turning off your ad blocker when visiting your favorite channels to ensure your contributions support their channel.

Bypassing paywall test

No, uBlock Origin won't bypass hard paywalls like the ones prevalent in popular news sites like Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and The Atlantic. We tested uBlock Origin against all three but had no luck accessing the restricted content. 

However, uBlock can bypass soft paywalls, like the ones common in local news sites. We tested the ad blocker against Reading Eagle and were able to fully access subscriber-only content. All we did was navigate to the news site and click on the articles of interest while the ad blocker was enabled. 

What browsers and software is it compatible with?

uBlock Origin is compatible with multiple popular browsers, and the following browsers are supported:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari (prior to 13)
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Opera
  • Chromium

Unfortunately, uBlock Origin is only a browser extension, so there's no app to download for your iPhone or Android.

How to use uBlock Origin

Adding the uBlock Origin extension is easy. Here’s how to get the browser extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.

For Google Chrome:

  • Head to the uBlock Origin website.
  • Select Get uBlock Origin.
  • Click Add to Chrome.
  • Click to Add extension to Google Chrome.

For Microsoft Edge:

  • Head to the uBlock Origin website.
  • Select Get uBlock Origin.
  • In the Microsoft Edge Add-ons store, click Get uBlock Origin.
  • Click to Add extension to Microsoft Edge.

There could be issues with downloading ad blockers from the Chrome Web Store in the future, as Google plans to move on to a new Chrome extension specification that puts limits on ad blockers.

uBlock Origin has created a Manifest V3 version, called uBlock Origin Lite, but you can also switch to another browser compatible with uBlock Origin.[1] We tested uBlock Lite in our test results section.

Top alternatives

uBlock Origin is a top-notch content blocker, but it may not be right for you. We've compiled a list of some alternative ad blockers for you to consider. Plus, all of these tested services block YouTube ads as well as ads on major streaming platforms. 

Adblock Tester score 100/100 93/100 92/100
Cover Your Tracks score 2/3 2/3 1/3
Does it block 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, Chrome, Safari, Firefox

Free version?

Price

Starts at $1.99/mo (billed annually)

Starts at $3.39/mo

Starts at $1.05/mo

Details

Get Total Adblock

Get NordVPN Threat Protection

Get AdLock

If you want an effective ad blocker that you can “set and forget,” look no further than Total Adblock. There’s a free version for Android and iOS devices, though the free version is limited and excludes the top 15,000 websites. It removes ads and trackers on YouTube, social media sites, and more. The premium plan includes award-winning antivirus protection with TotalAV.

NordVPN offers more than a virtual private network (VPN) — it also comes with Threat Protection, a feature to block ads, trackers, and malware for comprehensive cybersecurity protection. In addition to safeguarding your privacy and digital security, the ad-blocking feature blocks ads, trackers, malicious websites, and even YouTube video ads.

AdLock is another effective free ad blocker, though the free extension failed to block invisible trackers during testing. It can block tracking ads, banner ads, YouTube video ads, annoying follow-along videos, and more.

FAQs


+

Is uBlock Origin free?

uBlock Origin is completely free. It also doesn't require you to fill out an email sign-up form before using it.


+

Is uBlock Origin safe to use?

Yes, uBlock Origin is safe to use. According to its homepage, uBlock Origin has been an open-source and free ad blocker since its launch in 2014.


+

Does uBlock Origin actually work?

Based on our testing, uBlock Origin was successful at blocking ads on webpages, social media sites, and YouTube. It also helps block website visitor tracking.


+

Which is better, Adblock Plus or uBlock Origin?

Adblock Plus functions by primarily using filter lists to block ads on websites. uBlock Origin can also use filtered lists, but it is an open-source ad blocker that focuses on using fewer resources and CPU memory to run effectively.

Although they have the same purpose, it is up to you to determine which option is better, depending on your browser choice. For example, uBlock Origin doesn't support Safari, whereas Adblock Plus does.


+

Will uBlock Origin work with Manifest V3?

To avoid being taken down by Google, uBlock Origin has created uBlock Origin Lite, which is compliant with Manifest V3 but appears to be a watered down version of the current content blocker. If you're seeking all the features uBlock Origin has to offer, you may be better off switching to another browser.


+

Is uBlock Origin trustworthy?

Yes, uBlock Origin is a trustworthy ad blocker. It doesn't receive payments for acceptable ads and its open-source, so it's constantly being improved by other users.

Bottom line: Is uBlock Origin good?

Whether you're looking to block ads on YouTube or reduce ad tracking, uBlock Origin is a great selection for a free ad blocker. It can remove ads from YouTube videos and social media sites, as well as website takeover ads. In addition to removing ads on most websites, uBlock Origin also prevents pop-up windows and other distractions from interfering with your web browsing experience.

The ad blocker works effectively from installation, so you can set it once and trust it will work for you. The only downfall to this ad blocker is that it's not compatible with all browsers and does not have a mobile app. It could also require more technical knowledge, depending on what features you want to use. But if you want a good ad blocker for the most widely used browsers, uBlock Origin delivers on its promises.

If you need more advanced security features or are looking for the ultimate streaming ad blocker, learn more about other top-rated ad blockers we've tested and reviewed. 

Featured ad blockers to consider

Ad blocker
Best For Best for blocking YouTube ads Best overall Best for blocking streaming ads
Price Paid plan costs $1.99/mo (billed annually) Starts at $3.99/mo Starts at $2.29/mo (billed biennially)
Blocks YouTube ads
Learn more Get Total Adblock Get NordVPN Threat Protection Get Surfshark CleanWeb

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On uBlock Origin's website
uBlock Origin
  • Free and open-source
  • Compatible with multiple browsers
  • Some features require technical knowledge
Author Details
Amanda is a technical content writer based in Illinois, USA. She has a Master of Science in Cybersecurity. After years of working in the tech and cybersec field, she pivoted her career to content marketing and writing within these industries.
Kate is an Editor at All About Cookies. She has 8+ years of experience as a content manager, developmental editor, and curriculum writer within EdTech. She leverages a specialization in educational publishing to create impactful, well-researched content that aids learners of all ages.

Citations

[1] Google's Manifest V3 changes will soon disable uBlock Origin on Chrome

[2] About the Acceptable Ads program and "non-intrusive" ads

[3] AdBlock Tester 

[4] Cover Your Tracks: How do trackers work?

[5] Can You Block It?