What is the best way to block annoying ads but allow useful ads on Firefox and Explorer (8), basically I would like to:

  • block animated flash ads
  • block animated silverlight ads
  • block animated gif ads
  • allow subtle google ads and ads on e.g. StackOverflow which are graphics but often useful information
  • allow flash in general
  • allow silverlight in general
  • allow animated gif in general

What is the best way to strike this balance?

7 Answers 7


On Firefox it's relatively easy. Use AdBlock plus, but define your own custom rules. I added an exception for stackoverflow.com and other sites I like and support. It also has the ability to block flash ads, which is nice.

I haven't really used IE lately, but from what I understand, IE8, if used in "InPrivate Browsing" mode, will block certain ads.


An interesting alternative system-wide solution would be using your HOSTS file.

Quoting from http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm :

The Hosts file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. This file is loaded into memory (cache) at startup, then Windows checks the Hosts file before it queries any DNS servers, which enables it to override addresses in the DNS. This prevents access to the listed sites by redirecting any connection attempts back to the local (your) machine. Another feature of the HOSTS file is its ability to block other applications from connecting to the Internet, providing the entry exists.

You can use a HOSTS file to block ads, banners, 3rd party Cookies, 3rd party page counters, web bugs, and even most hijackers. This is accomplished by blocking the connection(s) that supplies these little gems.

Example - the following entry ad.doubleclick.net blocks all files supplied by that DoubleClick Server to the web page you are viewing. This also prevents the server from tracking your movements. Why? ... because in certain cases "Ad Servers" like Doubleclick (and many others) will try to open a separate connection on the webpage you are viewing.

  • This would work for both Firefox and IE (and any other browser you might use). You could use Adblock in Firefox to generate the block list and then copy that to your hosts file.
    – ChrisF
    Aug 21, 2009 at 11:27
  • One could also use a text based browser to get rid of most ads. ;-) Really, why maintaining a hosts file (or, like some suggest: a block list on opendns.com) if excellent add-ons like Adblock Plus, or proxies like privoxy.org update themselves automatically?
    – Arjan
    Aug 21, 2009 at 13:55
  • +1 I love this method. Very elegant and efficient. Eliminates overhead and cross-browser concerns.
    – DLH
    Jul 19, 2010 at 17:22

Firefox: adblock plus (http://adblockplus.org/en/)

IE8: InPrivate filter (config -> advanced config -> import)

import this file (download it to you pc and extract it first): http://www.dslreports.com/r0/download/1435747~4c279e6c324ef5b952c748a8932aa674/rules.xml.zip


AdMuncher is probably what you need. It updates an ad list regularly. And it can distinguish between good flash and ad flash. For example, in Hulu.com, it will show the episode, but intercept the ads.

You can also whitelist sites, like SO if you choose. I've use it with Chrome and it makes browsing a very quiet experience.


...Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, Safari, Flock, Netscape, Maxthon and Avant Browser.

BTW, it does cost $30, but I got it free with Trial Pay by buying a $5 T-shirt from VistaPrint.


Proxomitron is the most effective web filter (and it's free).


+1 For adblock+

Excellent extension for firefox. What I love is you can just right click any ad and select "Block"

Its very flexible.

Or, try out http://www.privoxy.org/ if you want something even more effective and flexible to your needs.


In addition to previous great answers, you can control Flash ads with FlashBlock

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