If you’ve ever played a free-to-play game on your mobile device or web browser, chances are you’ve fallen victim to an intrusive advert that has disrupted your playing experience.
While most of us can accept that advertisements are a necessary evil (take this very website as an example), when served carelessly and irresponsibily, they can go a long way to turn us off from otherwise appealing titles. While some developers offer users to opportunity to pay a fixed fee for an ad-free experience on a single game, sometimes this is not an option. Either way, there are a number of more cost-effective alternatives available.
Block external ads with a hosts file
Essentially, a hosts file is a file embedded within the operation system of your device that maps a host name (such as a domain name) into a specific IP address. It predates the now-universal Domain Name System (DNS), which automatically converts a domain name into a routable IP address, allowing you to access the access the server that correlates with the domain in question. By editing your hosts file, you can manually reroute particular domain and host names to different IP addresses.
This is especially handy in the case of malware and advertisement servers which host in-game ads, as you can map their domain names to unroutable IP addresses; such as 0.0.0.0. Rather than having to manually record every ad server you come across, there are a number of master block lists made freely available to the public, with StevenBlack’s thought to be the most comprehensive currently available. To use a custom hosts file, you simply have to download it and replace the existing file in your operation system; its exact location will vary depending on your device.
Of course, the hosts method isn’t entirely foolproof, as it has a number of shortcomings. For instance, some games will host advertisements on their own servers, so blocking individual domains just isn’t an option. In other cases, you may not have the required system permissions to access and edit your hosts file. This method also isn’t comprehensive when it comes to ads and malware: companies continue to find ways to bypass edited host files, and will sometimes even refuse to let you play their game if they detect you are rerouting access to their ad servers.
Use adblocking software for full protection
For more advanced adblocking, it may be prudent to instead rely on a piece of software that is dedicated to protecting you from advertisements and malware. One such product is AdLock for PC, which offers a number of advanced features that the manual hosts method is simply unable to offer, including the ability to spot potentially harmful links and protect your personal data using Secure Surfing, regulate traffic as though it were acting as a firewall, and provide a traffic and blocking report.
The program is especially handy for Android users, as it can be installed without having to root a device, and its developers tout it as currently being the fastest adblock software on the market. The software offers a number of sliding scale subscription packages, based on the number of devices you wish to protect and the duration of the license – either one year or lifetime. The company offers a 20% discount on purchases for 2+ devices; more info is available via its official website.