Steve Lambert

wrote a book!!!

Pi-Hole: a network wide ad-blocker

Pi Hole is an ad-blocker for every device on your personal network. Meaning, once you set it up on your router, it severely cuts down on the ads on your phone or other devices, even within applications. It blocks over 100,000 ad-serving domains, and because it works at the network level it “allows you to block ads in non-traditional places such as mobile apps and smart TVs, regardless of hardware or OS.”

For example, let’s say I subscribe to a newspaper and use their app to read it on my iPad. And, even though I pay for a subscription, every article I read has ads on every screen. So, let’s say, as I’m scrolling through an article: every three paragraphs has the same ad that I saw three paragraphs ago. And three paragraphs later the same ad is there again. And I don’t want what is being sold. I didn’t three paragraphs ago, or six paragraphs ago, or nine paragraphs ago. And I never will. I just want to read an article that I paid for with my subscription without these interruptions. Let’s just say that was the case, you know, for the sake of this example.

Here’s what those newspaper articles would look like:

Before Pi-Hole

After Pi-Hole

Pi-Hole means you don’t see those ads while you’re connected at home. I’ve used it for over two years and it’s been wonderful. I see less clickbait. I have less concern about malicious trackers or spying smart devices. Reading and browsing are more pleasurable. And my network speeds are a touch faster.

The software is free and runs on any Raspberry Pi, even a really old one or the $5 Pi Zero.

It has a well made web interface for configuring and viewing stats on how many ad requests have been blocked. I still use an adblocker on my browsers to block certain trackers, some ads within youtube videos, and while I’m on the road, but since installing I’ve noticed roughly 10% of my the internet requests at my house have been blocked because they were ads or trackers and higher numbers are typical.

Is it hard to set up? That’s relative to your experience level, but I will say it was the easiest Raspberry Pi project I have ever done. There’s a huge community on reddit, posting how-tos, and a few youtube videos. There may be a learning curve depending on your experience, but it’s worth learning. Once you’ve installed it on an SD card, and configured it for you network, it basically just works and you get a better web experience.

Note: Some people feel a moral obligation to not-block web ads as a way of “supporting the content” and/or consider ad-blockers a form of theft. I imagine they also don’t go to the bathroom during tv commercials or change the station on the radio when an ad starts out of a similar sense of moral obligation. But if you feel that way: that’s fine, this is not for you.

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