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Adguard Review

AdGuard Review: A Premium Advertising and Tracking Blocker

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AdGuard is a premium adblocking solution that is available for most devices and browsers offering excellent performance.

Pros

Cons

Review Summary

AdGuard blocks advertising in apps and games efficiently and effectively. It also has the ability to block digital threats although it shouldn’t be a replacement for traditional security software. The bandwidth saved by using AdGuard can be applied elsewhere which could mean more productivity and faster page loads when browsing the internet without interruptions from ads or digital threats.

The only downside to AdGuard is that it does cost money when compared with the free ad blockers available. However, for a product that has such quality and performance as Adguard, I think paying for a license key is worth spending on if you are looking to get rid of advertising at its highest level without any hiccups.

Price
User Interface
Features
Performance

A Great Value

4/5

The Ideal Buyer

AdGuard is perfect for someone who wants to absolutely minimize the amount of advertising that they receive while browsing or using their computer in a way that is simple to set up, easy to manage and cost-effective over time.

AdGuard is a premium advertising and track blocking service that has been around for years. The company provides adblocking, anti-tracking, malware protection, filter list updates, and more for up to five devices.

Their adblocker software is free from spyware or viruses that can harm your computer. With AdGuard's all-inclusive features you can get the best in internet security without having to worry about what might be lurking on other sites!


What is AdGuard & Who Is Behind It?

Adguard is a premium ad blocker solution for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android & home networks. The service utilizes downloadable software applications and system extensions to neutralize and block all incoming advertisements while browsing the Internet. Adguard can also block tracking scripts from identifying your IP address for complete anonymity while online.

Founded in 2009 in the Moscow area, Adguard's first office was in one of the co-founder’s apartments. In the following years, the company continued to grow, rework its products, establish new offices and eventually headquarter in Cyprus in 2017. The company has continued to expand its product line to incorporate support for multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, web browsers, and more.


AdGuard Pricing Options & Product Offerings

Depending on your needs, one of a few Adguard product offers could be suitable for you. As of June 2021, these are the different products that are being offered by the company:

  • Adguard for Mac
  • Adguard for Windows
  • Adguard for iOS
  • Adguard for Android
  • Adguard Home (must be installed on a device like a Raspberry Pi)
  • Adguard VPN

For the purposes of this AdGuard review, we are going to be focusing on our usage of Adguard for Mac although it will be directly transferrable to the experiences you'd have as a user of Adguard for Windows or on a mobile device running iOS or Android.

The Adguard Home and VPN services are entirely different products so we won't be discussing them in this review, but we may cover them in separate reviews in the future.

There are no free trials for the main Adguard product line, but the pricing model is reasonable with both annual and lifetime license options.

Annual Pricing:

Personal plan (up to 3 devices): $2.49/month or $29.88 a year

Family plan: (up to 9 devices): $5.49/month or $65.88 a year

adguard annual pricing 1

Lifetime Pricing:

Personal (up to 3 devices): $79.99 one time

Family (up to 9 devices): $169.99

adguard lifetime pricing

Setapp: Getting AdGuard & Dozens of Premium Mac Apps for A Low Subscription Cost

While you can purchase standalone access to AdGuard through their website, there is another alternative method to getting access that is how I gained access to create this AdGuard review. This method is through a subscription service called Setapp.

Setapp offers a free 7-day trial then costs $9.99 a month, but offers full unrestricted access to AdGuard which unlocks access on both MacOS & iOS devices. In addition to AdGuard access, Setapp offers full access to many premium Mac applications including CleanMyMac X, Gemini 2, ClearVPN, Disk Drill, NetSpot, Luminar and more.


How Does The AdGuard Service Work?

Ad-blocking is not new technology and has been around for many years at this point. What makes AdGuard unique is how thoroughly it works to block ads.

AdGuard starts by scanning your browser and identifying all of the ad-related components that are loaded on each page you visit, such as scripts, images, CSS files, etc.

It then searches for filters in its database which match these elements; there are filters for tracking scripts, ads, and pop-ups.

Once AdGuard has identified the relevant filters, it will create a list of rules to block those elements from loading in your browser. This means that any ad on the page you are visiting is blocked before it even loads at all!

AdGuard filters are capable of blocking a large range of advertisements. Adguard has a large variety of different filters – some made by them, and others built by enthusiasts.

Ad filtering options depend on which AdGuard product you are using. Browser extensions rely on filtering capabilities provided by what's available to them within the application. AdGuard for Windows, Mac and Android work independently from your browser, using a different filtering algorithm.

AdGuard Filtering Options scaled
An example of the advanced filter customization available in AdGuard for power users.

Here's how the service's filtering processes work in a nutshell:

Page code filtering

AdGuard filters a web page’s code before it has been loaded into the browser, blocking elements related to advertisements that are usually unwanted. This will allow the browser to load faster and also prevent pop-ups or flash ads from showing up.

AdGuard employs web page code filtering technology which is only available on the Windows, Mac, or Android (if high-quality filtering mode is enabled) version of AdGuard. The reason for this limitation is that browser extensions are limited in what they can change and so don't have sufficient access to the source code.

Request blocking

AdGuard's ad-blocking service filters all the necessary elements on web pages to block ads. For example, banner ads and flash objects could be blocked based on filtering rules.

CSS Injection and Javascript

Some ad types can't be blocked within the first two filtering steps of AdGuard. For example, ads that are embedded in a page dynamically with the help of Javascript and don't require you to load any additional items for blocking are tough to get rid of.

CSS is a language that web developers use for webpages design. Elements on the page have corresponding styles which determine the element's appearance, placement, and visible properties thereof. CSS affects how elements are made to look such as by changing font, size, color, or even making it invisible. This allows Adguard to hide your banner so you can continue enjoying our content without interruption.

Post-processing of pages

The AdGuard browser extension removes all elements from a web page that were blocked during this stage, preventing you from seeing incomplete parts of pages, such as broken graphics.


Is AdGuard Safe?

Given that AdGuard is a third-party software, it is normal for some users to question the potential motives and vulnerability of the service. Thankfully, AdGuard is a piece of software that poses no security threats to your browsing experience.

For starters, AdGuard has gone to great lengths to protect its users. They have never collected any of your browsing history or other personal information, and we don't plan on doing so in the future either.

AdGuard is 100% open-source, so it's possible for anyone who wants to take a look at their code and see what we're doing – that said there are no known vulnerabilities in any of the security modules used by AdGuard.

While I wouldn't recommend Adguard as a replacement for proper security software, the software actually makes your online usage safer as it can prevent malicious attacks by blocking adware ads and potential threats from loading in your browser or other applications (depending on the AdGuard product in use).


How To Use AdGuard On Your Mac or PC

There are two ways to install AdGuard on your Mac or PC. Both are solid options depending on how you use your computer and how much adblock coverage that you seek in the future.

There is a default installation wizard that comes with the program when you download and it walks you through all of the necessary steps: downloading, installing, and updating AdGuard for both Windows and macOS.

The first and easiest way to use is AdBlock is through their extension for your web browser. This extension can be used on any computer as long as you have internet access.

However, if you want to block ads for all your applications, the best option is AdGuard's standalone desktop version. This will also allow users who do not use a web browser at all or are looking for more extensive ad blocking coverage to use AdGuard.


AdGuard Performance: How It Has Fared After 9 Months Of Use

According to AdGuard's website, their adblocking database has a catalog of over 15 million websites with a whopping 1.5 million of them resulting in malicious or phishing attempt threats. Unlike many other AdGuard reviews, I actually use the service and can provide statistics of its capabilities through real-world use.

Throughout my last 9 months using AdGuard daily on my 16″ MacBook Pro (began use on November 13, 2020), I've racked up the following performance statistics:

AdGuard Performance Statistics 1
A look at my AdGuard statistics for the past year.
Ads Blocked 167,783
Trackers Blocked 513,307
Threats Blocked 2
Data Saved 33.39 GB

After looking at my AdGuard data, I'm rather impressed at how much it was able to block and negate while using the dedicated MacOS application through my daily web browsing and work usage.

Surpassing 167K advertisements blocked has allowed my computer usage to be more streamlined without the nuisance of pesky advertisements filling my web pages and providing delays via video ads when trying to watch YouTube, Facebook video or Twitch streams. In terms of video ads, I find AdGuard to do a much better job at blocking these sources than any other ad block browser app that I have tested to date.

Stepping up to over 500K tracking scripts blocked is a mindblowing statistic, but also one that should be less surprisingly in this day and age. Every website, service, and application that consumers use on a daily basis is tracking your activity (though often anonymously) and being able to essentially “turn off” the ability to track my web browsing usage is something that does give me some satisfaction and piece of mind.

While a minor number compared to the other areas, AdGuard did block 2 harmful threats or phishing attempts during my browsing experience which I likely wouldn't have fallen for, given my extensive tech/IT background, but it still is appreciated that the opportunity didn't arise regardless.

Lastly, AdGuard has been responsible for saving over 33 GB of data that would have been used for downloading and rendering advertisements. While this isn't a huge deal for me given my ISP has uncapped bandwidth limits and I'm using my machine from home 99.9% of the time, it still means I had faster-browsing speeds even if I wasn't as aware of the difference.

For someone who is on a plan with metered bandwidth or data caps, then this type of metric would be extremely important to keep in mind as any data saved by blocking advertisements would be money saved or bandwidth that could then be dedicated to actual productive web usage instead.


Most AdBlockers Aren't Perfect & Have Their Own Flaws

One of the most important things to remember when installing and using ad blockers such as AdGuard is that you may not be able to access certain sites while blocking ads.

This can happen for a number of reasons, but one common issue is that the website uses JavaScript to place advertisements and prevent ad blocker extensions from blocking them. In some cases, websites or services will run a specific piece of code that looks for ad block software and limited the user interface or usage potential until the ad blocker is turned off.

Another small problem with AdGuard is sometimes random ads manage to sneak through when they shouldn't be able to because an ad server's IP address wasn't blocked initially during installation or updates.

To reiterate, there is no perfect ad blocker that will block all ads and allow you to use the internet without any hiccups. This is why it's important to stay vigilant throughout your time using AdGuard by checking for updates frequently and adding more domains manually if necessary.


AdGuard Vs. Free Ad Blockers

It wouldn't be a fair AdGuard review if I didn't mention that there are free ad block solutions on the market that don't cost money for license keys like AdGuard does.

AdGuard is by far the superior ad blocker on the market. Free ad blockers cannot compete with AdGuard's functionality because they don't have the ability to block all the ads in apps, browsers, and games (instead of relying on browser extensions).

A free ad blocking browser extension can be unreliable as well – it’s not uncommon for these types of extensions to break websites while internet browsing until the extension developer updates it.

Free Adblock
The three most popular ad blocking browser extensions for Google Chrome.

These free browser extensions often have outdated adblock source lists, are limited to basic blocking methods (won't offer deep DNS rules) and sometimes even have private deals with advertising networks to keep their ads bypassed by the extension and remain shown to adblock users.

Do you know what else sets AdGuard apart? They have an incredible support team that can help with any questions or issues users might have. The support team is great, and they're available by email or through live chat to answer any questions you might have about your license key, installations, etc.

AdGuard does everything a good ad blocker should do – blocks ads in apps, browsers and games to ensure there are no more interruptions from pesky advertisements while you enjoy the content that matters most to you.


Review Summary – Is AdGuard Worth It?

To sum on this AdGuard review, I'd say the premium ad blocking service is quite a good investment if you are looking to get rid of advertising at the highest level, block digital threats and save on bandwidth.

There are some free alternatives available, but each one has their own limitations and just simply don't do as comprehensive of a job at blocking advertising as AdGuard does.