Posts with tag: Advertisements

Pi Hole is an intresting solution to a common problem. It removes most unwanted content such as ads and tracking scripts from your browsing experience and as a result speeds up browsing a lot. It also requires no additional work on any client so once its been installed you will have it on all devices in your house such as your phone, tablet, and laptop as long as you are using them at home.

What Pi-Hole does is that it replaces your current DNS with itself. And the simplest way to describe a DNS is that it tells your computer where on the internet to go when you type in an address such as http://alltrest.com in the browser (computers convert this adress to an ip address such as 192.168.1.1 and then ask the computer at the other end for the web page). 

So how does replacing your current DNS (if you dont know what your DNS is right now its probably your internet provider) help remove ads. When you are browsing the internet and you load a page, that page will in turn contain ads, these ads will be on a location such as http://advertisement.somecompany.com. When your browser finds such an address while loading the web site it asks the DNS to convert it to an ip address to that it can go and get the content (the ad). This is where Pi Hole comes in. It has a huge list of addresses which are known to be tracking sites or sites that only server ads. When it gets asked to convert one of these addresses to an ip address it simply responds with, no, it does not exist, and your browser cannot load the content and you in turn don't get any ads.

So how big difference does this really make. Here you can see a website I picked on random, the left is without Pi-Hole, the right is with. I've outlined the ads in red.

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So what is happening behind the scenes here. Well when ads are blocked using Pi Hole it went from 150 requets to 81 requests. That is a 46% reduction in total requests needed to load the page. It also reduced the amount of data that was downloaded from 6.1 Mb to 5.3 Mb. That is a 13% decrease in data. This is a very noticable difference, all web pages I have tried load faster when using pi hole as my DNS server.

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The Pi hole DNS server also gives you a neat dashboard to see how much of the traffic is blocked. Here is a picture of mine. As you can see, almost 40% of my internet requests are blocked, and the only thing I'm noticing is a faster browser experience.

Kind of makes you realize how much junk is being loaded into a page that you dont need, or want.

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The best part about all of this is how easy it is to get it set up. All you need is a raspberry pi and low to moderate knowledge about networks and linux and then do 4 fairly easy steps.

  1. Install your raspberry pi, any of the operating systems from here will work: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/
  2. Install Pi Hole. Run this command in the console: curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash (more details here: https://pi-hole.net/)
  3. Change your primary DNS in your router, or on each device. It is much prefered to do it on the router, since then you dont need to do anything on any of the devices.
  4. Enjoy a life with a lot less ads.

 As a side note, I have installed my pi-hole on a normal pc, you dont need to use a raspberry pi, although that is probably the easiest way to do it.