Encrypted Email: How to Send Encrypted Email (Outlook, Gmail iOS, Android, OSX or Webmail)

Emails are still one of the most popular forms of communication in the 21st century, despite technological advancements that allow us to send and receive messages and media files in real-time, as well as chat with video enable over VoIP services.

Emailing may be mostly used by businesses to notify you about important events, send you newsletters, or ask you to confirm the creation of a new account, but they’re also used by individuals if an immediate response is not required from the recipient.

How to encrypt email

However, since they’re used to transport so much information to and from various individuals or companies, emails are also perfect targets for hackers, who use various vulnerability exploits, social engineering, and various other techniques to get their hands on them.

On the bright side, there are several methods you could use to protect your emails from falling in the wrong hands. One of the most common ways to do so is through encryption, as it renders the content of your emails unreadable unless you have the decryption key.

Encrypted email (meaning)

Encryption is a way to protect information by encoding it and locking it away with a key. That way, only those who have or know the key can decrypt the information and see it in its original form. You can probably understand why encryption can and does play a major role in sending or receiving private emails that no one but the sender and recipient can read.

Thus, if you want to send an email that can’t be deciphered by anyone between you and the recipient, you’ll need an encryption key. It goes without saying that the sender needs the key to encrypt the contents of the email, while the recipient needs the same key to unscramble it.

Without previous knowledge about encryption and the way it works, encrypting your email can seem unnecessarily complicated, but trust us, once you get the hang of it, it’s not a big deal. Imagine that you and a friend have two identical keys that open the same lock. Now you send a box of stuff over to their place and lock it with your key. Upon receiving the box, your friend uses the key that was identical to yours to open the box and enjoy its content.

Email encryption works the same way, only the box is the email, and your identical keys are actually virtual and made of complex codes. So, how can you know that you both have the same key, and even more than that, how can you be sure that nobody else has it?

How does email encryption work?

As we mentioned just above, email encryption is based on keys made of code that are generated by computers, to avoid human error and to add a random factor that humans aren’t exactly excellent at (aka avoid forming patterns). This code that the computer generates for email encryption is based on a technology called public-key cryptography.

Encrypted email

Each email user can have a pair of keys, one of which is kept on a public server (public key), and the other stored privately on their device of choice (the one that’s used to receive emails). If you want to send an encrypted email to a recipient, you must look up their identity on the public server (also referred to as a keyserver), which will be associated with a public key and their email address.

You then use the recipient’s public key to encrypt the email. Now we know it may feel a bit confusing that all these keys are out there publicly available, which may not offer you the sense of privacy and secrecy you were looking for. However, it’s worth noting that you can’t use a public key to decrypt an email since the decryption part takes place on the recipient’s device that has the other half of the key (aka the private one), which is used for decryption.

How to send encrypted email?

So, to recap, you have a pair of keys, a public and a private one. The former is used by others to send you encrypted emails, while the latter is used by you to decrypt emails that have been encrypted with the former. Pretty simple, right?

However, and here’s when things start to feel a bit more complicated, there are several types of email encryption that are widely used, but we’ll only discuss three of them: PGP/Inline, PGP/MIME, and S/MIME. Aside from having the correct set of keys (public/private), the sender and recipient must both use the same type of encryption for sending/receiving encrypted emails to work.

Email encryption types

1. PGP/Inline

PGP/Inline is an approach to email encryption that is used to encrypt each component of the message separately. This means that the email body and the attachments are each encrypted and signed individually while using PGP/Inline. Although this approach may seem a bit unnecessarily complicated, it does have its fair share of bright sides.

For instance, the recipient may be using an email client that doesn’t support PGP email encryption. However, with PGP/Inline the recipient can just copy or respectively download the content of the email (email body and the attachments) and decrypt these using third-party software solutions.

On the downside, the fact that each component is encrypted separately means that the type and name of each attachment will be leaked before being decrypted, which is not a desirable trait from an encryption scheme.

Last, but not least, it’s worth mentioning that PGP/Inline doesn’t support sending HTML messages. Therefore, all messages sent using this encryption method will be sent in plain text.

2. PGP/MIME

The PGP/MIME encryption scheme is a newer approach that’s somewhat the opposite of PGP/Inline, as it bundles everything up, encrypts it, and signs it as a whole. As you may expect, the main advantage PGP/MIME has over its Inline counterpart is that the message structure doesn’t leak, so anyone who might be able to intercept the message won’t be able to figure out details such as attachment metadata.

Furthermore, PGP/MIME email signatures are a bit more subtle for clients that don’t support PGP. On the downside, if the recipient’s client doesn’t support PGP, they’d have to download the whole message (including attachments) to be able to decrypt it with a third party tool since, as we mentioned above, PGP/MIME bundles everything and encrypts them as a whole.

3. S/MIME

The third and the last type of encryption we’re going to focus on in our article is the S/MIME. Although not proprietary, this encryption scheme is built-in on most iOS and OSX devices. You’ve probably noticed that upon receiving an email message from an iPhone or a Mac system, the email also comes with a small attachment called “smime.p7s.”

This attachment we’ve mentioned above is just a way to verify the identity of the recipient, to ensure that they are the only ones who can decrypt and read the email, once it arrives at the destination. Although this seems a quite effective encryption system (which it is), it’s also harder to implement and not exactly free.

As opposed to the other two encryption technologies we briefly described above (PGP/Inline and PGP/MIME), S/MIME doesn’t come for free, unless you own an Apple device. If you don’t you must purchase a S/MIME certificate to be able to send and receive emails that have been encrypted using this technology. Furthermore, S/MIME is also more difficult to set up on popular mail clients such as Gmail, for instance.

How to send a secure email?

1. How to encrypt email in Outlook

Outlook only supports two encryption options, namely S/MIME and Microsoft 365 Message Encryption (Information Rights Management). For S/MIME, both the sender and the recipient must have a mail client that supports this standard, and fortunately, Outlook is among the ones that do.

Microsoft 365 Message Encryption is included in the Office 365 Enterprise E3 license. However, only the sender needs to have Microsoft 365 Message Encryption in this case, which can simplify things a bit.

It’s worth mentioning that recent modifications to Outlook made the Permissions button seemingly disappear, when in fact it was replaced by an Encrypt button. You can find it in the Options menu, but we’ll get to that in just a few moments.

The recently-added Encrypt button holds both encryption options we’ve discussed above, S/MIME and IRM (Information Rights Management), but the former is only visible if you have already configured it in Outlook.

That being said, let’s see how to configure S/MIME in Outlook and set it as your encryption method of choice.

Create digital certificate

  1. In Outlook, go to the File menu
  2. Select Options
  3. Click on Trust Center
  4. Select Trust Center Settings
  5. Go to Email Security
  6. Click the Get a Digital ID button
  7. Select a certification authority to create your digital ID (Comodo is a common choice)
  8. Check your email for the digital ID

Adding S/MIME to Outlook

  1. Launch Outlook
  2. Open the File menu
  3. Select Options
  4. Go to the Trust Center
  5. Select Trust Center Settings
  6. Go to Email Security in the left pane
  7. Click the Settings button in the Encrypted email section
  8. Click the Choose button under the Certificates and Algorithms section
  9. Select the S/MIME certificate you requested earlier
  10. Click the OK button

If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you may need to perform a few different operations. Namely:

  1. While you’re composing an email, click the Options button
  2. Click the Encrypt button
  3. Select the Encrypt with S/MIME option from the combo menu
  4. Finish composing your email and send it

If you’re using Outlook 2019 or 2016, you can perform the steps above, but use the Permissions button instead of the Encrypt one.

Encrypt with IRM (Microsoft 365 Message Encryption)

  1. While you’re composing an email message, go to the Options tab
  2. Click the Encrypt button in the Options section
  3. Choose the option that enforces the restrictions you want (e.g. Do Not Forward, Encrypt-Only, etc)
  4. Compose your email and send it

Note that for Outlook 2019 and 2016 users, you need to use the Permissions button instead of the Encryption one. Other than that, the process is exactly the same as for Microsoft 365 users.

Encrypt a single message

  1. While you’re in the message you want to send, go to the File menu
  2. Select Properties
  3. Select the Security Settings option
  4. Check the Encrypt message contents and attachments box
  5. Finish your message and send it (it will be encrypted)

Encrypt all outgoing emails

  1. Navigate to the File tab
  2. Select Options
  3. Go to the Trust Center option
  4. Select Trust Center Settings
  5. Go to the Email Security tab
  6. Check the Encrypt contents and attachments for outgoing messages box under Encrypted email
  7. You can use the Settings button to modify additional settings such as picking a specific certificate

Note that if you choose to encrypt all outgoing messages by default, you won’t have to encrypt your messages individually any longer. You just compose them as you would normally and send them. However, your recipients must have your digital ID in order to decipher and be able to see the content of your messages.

2. How to encrypt email in Gmail (Webmail)

Gmail

Web-based email clients such as Gmail accept encryption, both S/MIME and PGP fortunately, but we find S/MIME a bit too complicated to justify the effort, so we’re going to go with PGP since it can be implemented way easier than its counterpart.

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to use a third-party service in the form of a browser (Chrome) extension in order to implement PGP encryption to your Gmail client and emails you send using this platform.

That being said, you can choose whichever PGP browser extension you prefer, as most of them perform the same and there’s little to no difference between them. If you need suggestions, we remind you of FlowCrypt, Mailvelope, PrivateMail, Mymail-Crypt, Digify, PGP Anywhere, GPGTools, EnigMail, and GNU Privacy Guard.

After you install your favorite extension from our list of suggestions (or not), you should access its configuration menu. We have no idea which extension you’ve installed, so we’re going to offer you some general guidelines that (hopefully) apply to your extension of choice. If you find the entire process too difficult, try using a different extension.

Alright, so back to where we were: access the extension’s configuration menu and then generate your key by typing a name, email address, and a password in the designated fields. If the extension didn’t already generate your key, you might have to press a button (e.g. Generate, Submit, Confirm) to confirm your input, so look closely and do so if you find one.

Seeing as most email encryption browser extensions come with a keyring and a key generator, creating your PGP public and private keys should be easy to perform. However, you can also create your key using a different service and try to import it. This also works if you’ve already got a key for a while now and want to keep using it with Gmail.

Now if you recall, we’ve already explained that in order for people to find your key, you must either give it to them manually or simply upload it to a keyserver, along with other identifiable details about you (such as your name and email address).

That being said, locate your extension’s Export function and try to use it to retrieve your public key in plain text format. Once you have it, copy the whole thing (including the headers) to your clipboard and try to find a keyserver that suits your needs.

MIT offers one of the most popular keyservers, so you might consider uploading yours there. All you have to do is visit the MIT PGP Keyserver, paste your key (the one you copied earlier) in the Submit field, and then hit the Submit button. That’s it! If you want to check if you did it right, just head back to the MIT PGP Keyserver’s homepage and perform a search using the name you typed in the public key.

If you did everything right, you should be able to see your public key, your name, and your email address in the keyserver. Note that there’s also a keyID parameter on the homepage, which is very useful especially when several users share the same name. It actually happens a lot, which is why you’d want to also share your keyID with contacts you want to exchange encrypted emails with.

Now that you’ve got a public key and uploaded it to a keyserver, you can receive encrypted emails from others. But what if you want to send someone a PGP-encrypted email? Well, since you’re still on the MIT keyserver website, feel free to look up the person you want to exchange encrypted emails with.

If you’re lucky enough to find it, click the keyID of the user you’re interested in. Doing so will display their public key in plain text format. You can copy the entirety of this public key to your keyboard and import it in your extension of choice to add it to your keyring. Now depending on your extension, you can start exchanging encrypted mail with your recipient straight from the extension or in a different window.

For most extensions, you can type the content of your email in a section of the extension, select the recipient from the keyring, then simply copy and paste the encrypted text into your email. Remember that you should paste the encrypted text EXACTLY as you copied it, as tampering with it could lead to failure to decrypt it, and all this work would be in vain.

Decyphering and reading encrypted email should be a piece of cake if you have a decent extension installed, seeing as most extensions will automatically detect encrypted emails and will offer to decipher them automatically for you. However, there’s also the chance that your extension has a manual decryption section where you’d have to paste the entire content of your message and decipher it manually.

Unfortunately, not all extensions provide support for encrypting attachments, but that can be easily solved by using a file encryption program or searching for an extension that features attachment encryption support. For instance, Gnu Privacy Guard can help you encrypt attachments before you upload them so that you can encrypt both the email body and attachments using the same encryption key.

3. Apple Mail (iOS)

iPhone

As we’ve mentioned before, iOS devices come with built-in S/MIME support. More precisely, the default email app (Apple Mail) has built-in S/MIME support, so you won’t have to do much in order to enable this form of encryption on your iOS device and send private, secure email messages.

Here’s how you can enable S/MIME on your iOS device, or make sure it’s been enabled correctly:

  1. Open Apple Mail on your iPhone
  2. Head to the advanced settings section
  3. Make sure that S/MIME is switched on
  4. Change the Encrypt by Default option to Yes

That’s all. Now whenever you’ll compose an email message on your iPhone, you’ll be able to see a lock icon next to your recipient’s name. By default, that will depict an unlocked lock, but merely tapping it should set it to the “locked” position and encrypt your email.

Note that some recipients will have a red lock icon next to their names, which means that either you haven’t installed their certificate, or they’re not in your exchange environment (for instance working at the same company), so you can’t send them encrypted messages in this case. Not to worry, though, you can fix this nice and quickly.

In order to exchange encrypted emails with that person, you’ll need to ask them to send you an email with a digital signature attached. Attaching your digital signature to email messages requires that you toggle the option first, which can be done in the same menu as the encryption options we’ve explained above.

Once you receive that message, you’ll need to perform the following actions:

  1. Click the sender’s email address
  2. Check if a red question mark appears letting you know that the signature is not trusted
  3. Tap the View Certificate option
  4. Tap the Install button
  5. Tap the Done button in the top-right corner

After you perform these steps, the lock icon next to the recipient’s name will be blue, and you can tap it to set the icon to the “locked” position and send encrypted messages with this contact.

4. Mail app (Mac/OSX)

If you want to send encrypted email messages from your default mail application on your Mac (OSX), you have to meet the same requirements as for the iOS and Outlook versions above: the recipient’s digital signature must be stored on your device beforehand.

After retrieving the recipient’s digital ID, whenever you compose a message and type the contact’s email address, you’ll be able to see a checkmark that will inform you that the message will be signed. Now you shouldn’t confuse this checkmark with the lock icon we discussed in the iOS section, considering that signing and encrypting an email message are two wildly different things.

Now you should also be able to see the lock icon next to the signature checkmark. However, as opposed to iOS, where you can simply decide which contact receives encrypted emails, and which don’t, while using Mac you must have the digital certificates of all the contacts you include as recipients in your email.

Otherwise, the email won’t be encrypted, even though you had digital certificates for some of your contacts ready and available on your device. One last thing; make sure to sign email messages only after you’ve finished composing them. Performing any modification before will make the certificate show up as untrusted.

5. Android (S/MIME)

Android devices have a bit more elbow room than iOS or Mac devices, so you can rely on third-party tools that can help you encrypt your email before you send it. One such example is CipherMail, which can be used in conjunction with the Gmail app, but also works with other third-party options such as Outlook, Thunderbird, K-9, and other existing S/MIME clients.

CipherMail helps you encrypt both messages and attachments, features HTML email support, ensures that certificates are extracted automatically, supports CRLs, includes CTLs (Certificate Trust Lists) for blacklisting or whitelisting certificates, and is even capable of generating self-signed certificates to be used for private PKI.

6. Android (PGP)

As we’ve mentioned before, S/MIME may be more secure (in some regards) than PGP, but PGP is far easier to implement, is entirely free, and provides you with more flexibility regarding who you can/can’t send encrypted email messages to. However, on Android PGP is not naturally occurring, so you’ll have to help it with a tool.

OpenKeychain, for instance, is a lightweight tool that’s 100% free to use and can help you store certificates and PGP keys for others. You can use it with email clients that support PGP such as K-9 without significant efforts.

It’s very simple to operate OpenKeychain on your Android device, given that it enables you to create your own keys, both public and private ones. You just have to type your email address, along with your name and a password, and OpenKeychain will generate the pair of keys for you. You can also use OpenKeychain to import an existing key if you have one.

After generating a key, you can export it from the app so that you can use it with other applications and devices if you want to. If you need to find a public key for a certain contact, you can use OpenKeychain to look up that person and try to find their public key, so you can send them encrypted emails. OpenKeychain also saves public keys that you’ve added to your keychain so that you can use them again later without spending too much time looking around.

If you want to use OpenKeychain with your email client, you might need to go to that app’s configuration menu, locate encryption settings, and try setting OpenKeychain as your preferred or default PGP or OpenPGP provider. There are several apps that support PGP encryption, but configuration menus are different from one app to another. It’s worth mentioning that not all Android email clients support encryption.

7. ProtonMail

ProtonMail on laptop

If all the procedures we’ve discussed above sound like gibberish to you and you like keeping things straight and simple, there’s yet another solution for you: using an email service that offers strong encryption by default.

Fortunately, ProtonMail is not only a mail client that uses end-to-end encryption and zero-access encryption to secure your emails, but it’s also free to use. Truth be told, ProtonMail offers both paid and free plans, but the free plan includes 500 MBs of storage and a limit of up to 150 messages per day, which we believe is more than enough to satisfy your needs for encrypted, secure mail.

If not, then the Plus (paid) version of ProtonMail provides you with 5 GBs of storage, lets you send up to 1000 messages per day, has labels, folders, and custom filters, can send encrypted messages to external (non-ProtonMail) recipients, allows you to use your own domain, and gives you up to 5 email aliases for only 4.00 per month.

The only downside of using the free version of ProtonMail is that you won’t be able to send encrypted messages to recipients that are not using the same email client. However, if you need a quick email exchange you can persuade your recipient to create a free ProtonMail account so you can have peace of mind regarding email privacy violations.

8. Disposable email addresses (burners)

You may have heard the term burner associated with various shady dealings, but as far as protecting your privacy goes, there’s no length you shouldn’t go to protect it. Creating a disposable email address, also called burner or a temp, is one of the best ways to keep your security and privacy at optimal levels.

The best thing about a disposable email address is that it self-destructs after a certain period of time. Therefore you can use such an email address to send private messages to your recipient, log out of it and that’s the end of the story.

Alternatively, if you have to receive a private message, just have it delivered to a burner email address you can access, make sure you have enough time to read the message, then delete it and stop worrying about it, as the address will soon be turning to virtual dust.

There are a few burner email services that you may safely use, including Zmail and Guerilla Mail. The latter also includes a password manager, so that you don’t need to remember the passwords for every temporary email address you may create.

Send encrypted email – CONCLUSION

All things considered, if you suspect someone’s eavesdropping on your email exchanges with various recipients, a great way to prevent that is by encrypting your email messages and their attachments.

As we’ve discussed earlier, there are many ways to go about it, and these methods usually differ from one device/app to another. However, once you understand how encryption works and what requirements you have to meet in order to implement it, using encryption to protect your emails should feel like a walk in the park, whether you’re using S/MIME, PGP/Inline, or PGP/MIME.

The post Encrypted Email: How to Send Encrypted Email (Outlook, Gmail iOS, Android, OSX or Webmail) appeared first on AddictiveTips.

10 Best Free Ad Blockers (Reviews) in 2021 – Block Annoying Popups

We’re living in an age of information, which more often than not assaults us from every possible direction in the form of text, audio, images, or video. How many times has it happened for you to just try to read an article just to be bombarded by ads?

And we get it, ads are necessary to generate revenue for websites that create free content, but that’s just a drop in the ocean. A lot of (regrettably not only) sketchy websites have increased the number of ads displayed on their pages, turning a once-enjoyable browsing experience into a dodge-the-ad battle.

Best Free Ad Blocker

You may have stumbled upon websites that have obtrusive ads on the side panels, between paragraphs, the pop-up kind that make you misclick and land on a totally different webpage, or even pop-ups. Thankfully, the latter has been dealt with by most browsers that don’t allow pop-ups by default, so at least we got that going on for us.

However, for the rest of the ads that slither their way into our field of vision, some subtly, while others more like a brick to the face, there are some third-party software solutions that can block ads, as well as their commonly-known domains. We call these ad blockers, and getting them only takes a few seconds if you know where to look.

What are ad blockers?

It’s rather easy to figure out what ad blockers are since their name is quite self-explanatory. If you’re sick and tired of seeing ads wherever your virtual trails lead you to, then it’s probably a good time to get an ad blocker.

These utilities are more often than not available as browser extensions, but you can also find them in the form of installable programs on your PC (system-wide ad blockers), or bundled within antivirus or VPN software.

Although a system-wide ad-blocker could be more effective in the long run, it could end up costing you more than a browser extension, especially if it’s included in an antivirus software solution or a VPN. Furthermore, using a system-wide ad-blocker could end up modifying your hosts file, which could prevent you from accessing certain domains entirely.

Therefore, most of us rely on browser-based ad-blockers, which are not only free, but they keep most of the ads at bay only while we’re using our browsers, which is when most “ad assaults” happen.

We’ve prepared a list of popular free ad-blocking browser extensions that can help you put some distance between you and ads without significant efforts. You just deploy them and forget they’re even there. Unless you reach one of those websites that block their content for ad-blocker users, that is.

Quick overview: what is the best free ad blocker?

  1. AdBlock Plus
    • A lightweight ad-blocking extension you can install on various browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Yandex Browser. Supports “fair publishers” by allowing “acceptable ads” by default, but you can turn them off manually if you want to. Can also be installed on Samsung Internet (Android) and Safari (iOS) browsers, or downloaded as a standalone browser for your Android device.
  2. AdLock
    • Efficient ad-blocker that can be installed as a browser extension, but is also available as a desktop utility, macOS program, and Android or iOS apps. You install AdLock on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. The Windows version also packs additional features that could protect you from other external threats as well.
  3. Opera Browser’s ad blocker
    • Opera Browser has an ad blocker of its own that you can easily enable at the flick of a switch. Whether you’re using this web browser on your Windows PC, Android phone, or tablet, you’ll be able to keep most ads at bay without having to install any additional ad-blocking extensions for the same purpose. Furthermore, Opera Browser also has a tracker blocker component that protects you against trackers, which are not always visible.
  4. Stands Fair Adblocker
    • This is a Chrome-built ad blocker that you can use to avert your sight from annoying ads, while also allowing some fair ads to be visible every now and then, so you can support websites that generate revenue mostly from ads. Don’t worry, though, you can set that number to zero, so you won’t see ads even when you’re browsing websites that only display “fair ads,” as the extension puts it.
  5. uBlock Origin
    • You may have heard about uBlock before in two wildly different scenarios: either as being one of the best ad-blocking applications on the market or as being a malicious clone that more than 8 million users downloaded and used on their PCs without a single clue about its true nature. However, uBlock Origin meant to put as much distance between it and the clone, hence the name, which hints at it being the original, the real deal.
  6. Trustnav Adblocker
    • Trustnav’s Adblocker is an effective ad-blocker solution brought to you by Trustnav that was mainly developed for Chrome browsers but is also available as an extension for Mozilla Firefox browsers. It’s lightweight, features advanced ad detection, and enables you to block pop-ups so that they don’t spring up on you when you least expect it and disrupt your peaceful browsing experience.
  7. Adblocker Ultimate
    • Adblocker Ultimate is a Chrome extension that aims to remove all ads completely from your browsing experience, whether “fair” or not. Unlike other ad-blockers on this list, Adblocker Ultimate doesn’t accept the idea of fair ads, so it blocks everything by default. More so, it doesn’t allow you to whitelist websites, or, in other words, it doesn’t tolerate any ads, no matter where they come from.
  8. AdGuard
    • AdGuard is a very effective system-wide ad-blocker (we’ve mentioned them above) that you can install on various devices, is also available as a browser extension, and features a VPN, for those who are interested to take their privacy protection to the next level. Although it’s great at what it does, AdGuard is not exactly free, despite the fact that it used to come in two flavors: free and paid. You use it for 14 days for free, but that’s it. More about it below!
  9. Poper Blocker
    • As you may have figured out by glancing at its name, Poper Blocker is actually a pop-up blocker extension. However, it does a pretty good job at blocking other disrupting elements that may get between you and a relaxing news-reading or video-watching session you may have planned. It also features a spam blocker and unobtrusive notifications to let you know about pop-ups it managed to block.
  10. NoScript
    • Not an ad blocker in the traditional sense, but NoScript does provide you with additional protection against various threats such as untrusted Java, Flash, JavaScript, and other plugins’ malicious execution. Furthermore, it also offers an efficient anti-clickjacking protection module and features anti-XSS to keep your privacy and security at optimal levels.

In the following section, we’ll offer you as many details as we can about each ad-blocker we’ve mentioned above so that if you’re in a tough spot and can’t choose just one from our list, by the end of it you’ll understand more about each product’s functionality and be able to pick the one that fits your needs best.

We’ve given our list a lot of thought and figured out a way to showcase only the best products on the market based on the following criteria:

  • Protects you against ads efficiently, no compromise (kind of the whole point)
  • Is free or doesn’t limit you too much if it comes as both paid and free versions
  • User trust factor
  • Not abandoned, still receiving updates regularly
  • Compatibility with more than just one system (installable on other browsers, for instance)
  • Can detect and block streamable ads (for instance on YouTube or other streaming websites)
  • Blocks pop-ups and other types of ads (text, floating ads, banners, auto-playing videos, redirects)

The Best Free Ad Blocker Apps in 2021

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the best free ad blockers on the market and see what truly makes them special.

1. AdBlock Plus

Adblock Plus configuration screen

AdBlock Plus is currently one of the most popular web browser extensions with ad-blocking capabilities on the market, and for good reason. It’s easy to install, easier to configure, and it’s compatible with more than just one browser. As a matter of fact, from a compatibility standpoint, AdBlock Plus is one of the most versatile ad blockers out there.

It’s entirely free, and open-source actually, so you can rest assured knowing that the project is endorsed by various members of the ad-blocking enthusiasts community on a regular basis. By default, AdBlock Plus allows some ads to pass, as a means of supporting fair websites that rely on advertisements to generate revenue.

That’s not to say that malware websites don’t rely on advertisements, but there’s a huge difference between a warez site and the website of your favorite online news source, for instance. AdBlock Plus allows ads for the latter but blocks ones that operate on shady grounds or engage in unruly practices such as popping out of nowhere to cover the thing you were about to click so that you get instantly sent someplace else entirely.

But don’t get disconcerted just yet. Just because AdBlock Plus doesn’t block “fair ads” by default doesn’t mean you should just sigh and let it slide by if you’re not okay with it. You can just access its extremely user-friendly configuration menu and disable all ads, whether they’re fair or not.

You can also configure AdBlock Plus to allow ads without third-party tracking if you want to support local businesses or whatnot. In fact, it’s in the same section (Acceptable Ads) as the previous type of ads we were discussing. Just uncheck the box and you should be all set.

Some websites still hide between an ad wall and force you to disable your ad blocker in order to access certain data or read some of their articles. Instead of doing that, you can just call AdBlock Plus’s menu by clicking its extension icon, then turn it off for that page specifically. After that, it’s up to you if you want to disable it or keep it like that.

To make things more interesting, you can add entire websites or web pages to a whitelist manually, so that AdBlock Plus will be disabled by default while you’re browsing them. To access the Whitelisting feature, just open the AdBlock Plus configuration menu, then select the Whitelisted websites section.

Last, but not least, AdBlock Plus has a feature reserved for more advanced users, but we see no reason why you shouldn’t get to benefit from it too. If there’s an element on the page that still obstructs your view, you can use the Block Element feature to remove it from your sight. All you have to do is open the extension’s menu (not the configuration menu), click the Block Element button, and then click the element you want to block.

Note that hovering your mouse on the page where you want to remove a certain element from view will highlight certain sections. Using Block Element on the section will alter the page (only for you), so that you won’t see whatever was bothering you any longer.

2. AdLock

AdLock presentation

AdLock’s greatness comes from the fact that you can install it on multiple devices in your possession. Not different browsers, mind you, but different devices, such as Windows PCs, Mac PCs and laptops, iOS devices, Android phones, and tablets. On top of that, AdLock is also available as an extension for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge browsers, so that covers up just about everything.

Now for the not-so-good news. Most of the apps we’ve mentioned just before are premium services, meaning that you’ll have to pay up in order to use them. Furthermore, there’s no lifetime license available, so you’ll have to choose from various plans to receive the ad protection you deserve. At the time being, there are three different plans: a monthly plan, a yearly one, and one for 5 whole years, which is incidentally also the most profitable one.

On the bright side, all of AdLock’s browser extensions are and will (hopefully) remain free. According to the official website, if you stick to using the browser extension, you’ll never be asked to purchase or donate to keep the app being developed. The AdLock browser extension can bypass anti-adblocking scripts, so websites won’t throw you the “Please disable AdBlocker” message your way.

However, there are some differences between the browser and desktop versions of this service. Namely, the extension won’t block ads in all browsers by default (unless you install it everywhere) or in apps, and won’t work on all types of ads, due to technical restrictions. So it’s entirely up to you if you want to keep on using the free extension or switch to the desktop version.

When it comes to protecting you against various ads, AdLock is impartial, so it doesn’t do any favors to specific ads, no matter if they’re non-obtrusive and serve as a main source of revenue to your favorite website. Hey, it’s what you paid for. We imagine that paying for a program that should protect you from ads only to discover it lets some ads slide through could be very frustrating.

Among AdLock’s features, you can find non-discriminate ad-blocking of various types. Therefore, whether the ad you’re usually encountering is a video ad, a text-based one, a banner, or a pop-up, AdLock will find it and prevent it from reaching your sight. If you go with the system-wide protection, AdLock will not only protect your browser, but it will also extend its umbrella towards apps installed on your PC, such as your torrenting client, your VoIP app, or your favorite media player.

Another useful feature you can find in AdLock’s toolbelt is its ability to perform thorough checks on links before you get to click them and warn you about any unwanted offer or malware you may suddenly face before you actually do. This feature can come in quite in handy, especially if you’re the hasty type who clicks haphazardly every link hoping to reach your destination faster. In conjunction with the features described above, you can find a handy module that can protect your personal data from spyware and phishing attempts.

3. Opera Browser’s ad blocker

Opera ad blocker configuration

If you’ve never used Opera Browser before or you’re not at least familiar with it, it may come as a surprise to you to discover that it has quite some additional features embedded in its toolbelt. For once, it has a VPN that’s not half bad, considering that it can circumvent geo-blocking if its servers are not too crowded.

We’re not so sure about its data collecting and activity-logging policies, but alas it does what it’s supposed to do: hides your identity while you’re online, does it for free, and doesn’t need you to install any third-party software solutions so that it can do all that. We got a little carried away by Opera Browser’s VPN, didn’t we?

Aside from its VPN, Opera Browser also features a built-in ad blocker that does a great job at keeping various ad types at bay, regardless of the device where you have Opera installed and this feature enabled. Hey, if various websites detected it and asked us to disable our ad blocker, that means it does keep its end of the bargain.

Furthermore, Opera Browser also comes with a service that’s supposed to prevent tracking services from following your every move while you’re online. It should be enabled by default, but you should definitely check and see for yourself. Just press the Easy Setup button (top-right, next to the heart) and make sure that the Block trackers option is enabled.

Incidentally, that’s also where you need to look to check if the ad blocker is enabled. If it isn’t give it a hearty flip and breathe easily in a web environment that’s not obstructed by ads.

Opera Browser’s ad blocker and tracker blocker both have some configuration sections you could use to customize the way they work. It’s nothing fancy but gives you a bunch of options regarding things you want to block and stuff you need to make an exception for.

In order to access these configuration sections, press the Easy Setup button, scroll down to the end of the menu, and click the Go to full browser settings button. The first two options in the configuration menu should be the ad blocker and the tracker blocker. You can manage exceptions and lists for each of these services, so if you have some websites where you want to see ads or be tracked, feel free to add them to these lists. Maybe you own a site and want to check the way ads are displayed on it, who knows.

The bottom line is that Opera Browser does an excellent job as a browser, considering the impressive collection of additional features that are non-standard for a browser it has in its toolbelt. If you want an ad-free experience, you should definitely consider using Opera Browser as long as you don’t forget to enable its ad blocker and tracker blocker.

4. Stands Fair Adblocker

Stands Fair AdBlocker presentation

Stands Fair Adblocker might be a bit confusing when it comes to how you can call it. Chrome’s web store calls it Fair AdBlocker, its official website calls it Stands, and I guess that the rest of us should just use its full name: Stands Fair Adblocker. Its name is no coincidence either, mind you.

The Stands part is proprietary, but the Fair AdBlocker segment is meant to inform us that this utility has a knack for filtering fair ads and displaying them on your browser, just to give the ones who generate revenue from them a fair chance.

There’s a Fair Ad program that you can participate in by simply allowing Stands Fair Adblocker to do what it does best: block intrusive, obstructive, unsafe ads from getting in your sight and allow safe ads that respect your choice of not wanting to be forced or mislead to click ads just so you can read an article that’s probably a clickbait anyway.

You’ll probably think that you may be better off without an ad blocker than using one that lets various ads invade your personal space while you’re just trying to enjoy a quiet evening. However, Stands Fair AdBlocker allows you to configure the amount of “fair ads” you want to see while browsing the Internet and get this, that number can very well be 0 (zero).

Stands Fair AdBlocker is quite fast and doesn’t slow down your connection while preventing ads from coming in your line of sight. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that it can block a wide variety of ads, including pop-ups, pop-unders, webmail, search, and Facebook ads. According to the developer, this ad blocker “uses smart algorithms to identify and block malware and popups.”

Unfortunately, you can only install Stands Fair AdBlocker on Google Chrome, so if you’re using a different web browser, you may want to turn to a different alternative. On the bright side, Stands Fair AdBlocker is and will (hopefully) remain free, so it costs you nothing to give it a try and decide if it fits your ad-blocking needs entirely.

5. uBlock Origin

uBlock Origin

We’ve mentioned a few details about uBlock Origin a few paragraphs above, mainly because it’s one of the most known ad blockers on the Internet. uBlock was originally developed in good faith to block ads and shield the average Internet user against ads, malware, pop-ups, and everything that falls in that category.

However, at some point, a clone app called uBlock Plus AdBlocker spawned in the Chrome web store, and more than 8 million mistook it for an upgrade to uBlock. This “new app” was in fact a malicious clone and was shortly removed after Google caught wind of its wrongdoings, but the damage was already done and people were looking at uBlock (the original one) with a raised eyebrow.

That’s when uBlock became uBlock Origin, to signal the fact that it’s the original program, the real deal so that people won’t accidentally mistake it for its malicious counterpart that was removed from Chrome’s web store since it was discovered three years ago. Storytime over, hope you enjoyed it, now back to our presentation.

uBlock Origin is an efficient tool that can get you rid of various elements that may prevent you from enjoying your browsing experience, including pop-ups, scripts, ads, and malicious components. It uses a preset list of filters to keep unwanted things out of your browsers, and its ad-blocking component is based on AdBlocker Plus by featuring support for its filter syntax.

If you’re an advanced user, you can set uBlock Origin to work in a default-deny mode, which will reject all third-party network requests by default, unless you want to allow them.

uBlock Origin makes use of several lists of filters and rules to decide which requests/content should be blocked and which should be allowed. You can manage these lists if you believe that uBlock Origin simply blocks too much and want to give requests more elbow room.

By default, this tool comes with a series of lists, including EasyPrivacy, EasyList, Online Malicious URL Blocklist, Peter Lowe’s, and some uBlock Origin proprietary lists, but you can always download more of them to block analytics, trackers, and more similar elements. uBlock Origin also supports hosts files, if you know how to work them properly.

uBlock Origin works with various browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, but it’s worth mentioning that this tool works best with Chromium-based browsers. It’s entirely free to use, and constantly receives updates from the community that works tirelessly on this project.

6. Trustnav AdBlocker

Trustnav Ad Blocker presentation

Trustnav AdBlocker aims to provide you with a distraction-free browsing experience by detecting and removing ads from your sight wherever you may roam. Virtually, of course. The tool is lightweight, so you know it won’t put a huge strain on your computer and/or your Internet connection.

As opposed to other ad blockers on the market, Trustnav AdBlocker is capable of blocking video ads, which, let’s face it, are some of the most annoying ones. You can’t watch YouTube videos or listen to your favorite music without being interrupted by various ads.

Another great feature of Trustnav AdBlocker is the frequent updating that the ad detection database receives. It works like this: Trustnav AdBlocker engineers do their research on ad types, and as soon as they figure out how to block it, your ad blocker will automatically receive an update so you can start blocking it, as well.

So far, Trustnav AdBlocker is capable of detecting and blocking pop-up and pop-under ads, obtrusive banners (you know the kind), Facebook ads and sponsored stories, Instagram ads and sponsored stories, YouTube video ads (the ones that completely ruin your music-listening experience), communities that are reported as advertisements or spam, as well as ad-network trackers.

It’s easy to install this ad blocker on your system, considering that you can only deploy it as a browser extension. As opposed to some other products on our list, Trustnav AdBlocker is not available on a wide range of browsers. You can either install it on Chrome or on Firefox browsers, so you’re quite limited as far as flexibility is concerned.

It’s also worth mentioning that Trustnav AdBlocker enforces a strict policy regarding the collection of your private data and selling it to third parties, used or transferred for various, non-ad-blocking purposes. In other words, Trustnav AdBlocker won’t engage in such activities, so you can rest assured knowing that your personal data is in good hands.

Last, but not least, you should know that Trustnav offers a SafeSearch extension you can use to remove trackers from search engines so that your future results won’t be affected by previous searches. It also has an antivirus in store for you, but you’ll have to register for the pre-release.

The best part? Trustnav AdBlocker, as well as the SafeSearch extension and the antivirus, are totally free, so you don’t have to worry about either of these products burning a hole in your pocket.

7. AdBlocker Ultimate

AdBlocker Ultimate presentation

AdBlocker Ultimate a near-perfect score on the Chrome Web Store and has rounded up more than 900,000 users, which probably means it’s doing something good, right? Keeping ads at bay is no easy job, and AdBlocker Ultimate rises up to the challenge by providing us with a free, fast, efficient service that works on a broad variety of browsers, so you won’t need to worry about compatibility.

You can use AdBlocker Ultimate to increase your level of online privacy and boost your computer’s security by dodging sketchy ads that often hide malware or collect your personal data without your knowledge. This product can detect and block ads regardless of the type of content you may be viewing, thus keeping you protected against a wide range of potential privacy violations.

More so, unlike other similar tools, AdBlocker Ultimate doesn’t come with a predefined list of trusted websites, so you’ll get to manage them manually. In other words, AdBlocker Ultimate will block everything by default and allow you to decide whether or not it should trust a website enough to let it display ads while you’re browsing it.

It’s worth mentioning that aside from the browser extensions we’ve briefly mentioned above, AdBlocker Ultimate is also available as a standalone app on Windows, and you can download it for iOS and Android devices, as well. While the browser extensions and mobile apps are entirely free, unfortunately, the Windows version of AdBlocker Ultimate is not, and you’ll have to choose from 3 plans to use it (1 month, 12-months, and lifetime).

However, you may not even need the Windows version, especially if all your Internet usage patterns revolve around using a web browser. The Windows app can make sure ads won’t find you anywhere on your PC by blocking them system-wide through various techniques. That being said, whether you’re using a web browser, a messenger app, a torrenting client, or any other ad-supported program, you won’t see ads while the Windows version of AdBlocker Ultimate protects you.

If you’re planning to keep your Internet usage exclusively within the confines of your web browser or you don’t mind seeing the occasional ad when you’re using a free program, you should be fine with the browser extension versions of AdBlocker Ultimate. You can also add AdBlocker Ultimate to your mobile devices so that you won’t get as many ads while browsing the web.

Note that on Android and iOS AdBlocker Ultimate is still a browser extension, so unfortunately it won’t be able to remove the countless ads you’ve been encountering in your favorite F2P (free to play) game that’s not exactly F2P. Most system-wide ad-blockers on Android require a rooted device, and for iOS, there are only a few alternatives, and all of them are premium (you need to pay for them).

If you decide to stick with the browser extension version of AdBlocker Ultimate, you’ll be glad to know that all major browsers support it. Therefore, you’ll be able to install it effortlessly on Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, and Yandex. Unfortunately, there’s no Safari version or any mention of it on the official website.

8. AdGuard

AdGuard ad blocker settings

We’ll start with the obvious; AdGuard is simply one of the best ad blockers available on the market, so why would we put it this low on our list? The reason is simple: you asked for free ad blockers, and although AdGuard is one of the best ones, it’s not exactly free if you want to use it system-wide.

You can install it on various browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, and Yandex, and use it for free. In its extension form, AdGuard is entirely free and you won’t have to worry about paying to unblock any of its features. Everything is there, we’ve checked and they work great.

However, if you want to unleash the full potential of AdGuard and enjoy an ad-less experience each time you’re spending time on your computer, whether you’re torrenting some files, chatting with your peers, or using Skype to call your relatives, you might want to use the paid version of AdGuard.

Now back to our free AdGuard browser extension: it has an impressive range of customization options, so you can use it to block virtually any type of ads that may interrupt your peaceful browsing sessions. AdGuard can block interstitial, floating, banner, text, and video ads in a very effective manner, and its built-in element blocking feature can help you single out and block any component that you don’t want to be displayed on any page.

The configuration section of this ad blocker lets you choose which filter should it use to detect and block ads. These include ad-blocking, privacy, social widgets, security, annoyances, language-specific, other, and custom filters. Therefore, whether you’re annoyed by video ads or you’re concerned about being tracked while using social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, AdGuard has got your back.

You can also enable a stealth mode that can protect your online identity and sensitive personal details by blocking trackers and thus preventing them from following your online whereabouts. Additionally, you can set a time after which third-party and first-party cookies will self-destruct, prevent third parties from knowing which website you’re accessing, block websites from tracking you by sending Do-Not-Track headers, and even hide your search queries.

Truth be told, AdGuard is quite complex, and even buying a paid license can be justified considering the amount of privacy and security features it encompasses.

9. Poper Blocker

Poper Blocker presentation

Poper Blocker is not an ad-blocker, which is part of the reason why it’s so low on our list. You may have guessed judging on its name, but Poper Blocker is actually a pop-up blocker, and we all know that pop-ups are merely a type of ads you may encounter while you’re browsing the Internet, so this product will only offer partial protection.

According to the official website, you can run Poper Blocker in conjunction with an ad blocker to increase the level of protection. However, given that most ad blockers have implemented pop-up and pop-under protection modules by default, pairing them with Poper Blocker may seem a bit redundant, although we assure you it’s not.

As with any other detection system, even when running a tight ship things may fall through the cracks. Pairing Poper Blocker with your ad blocker of choice could increase the chance of annoying pop-ups being detected even before they begin spawning and ultimately blocked.

Additionally, it might help you to know that Poper Blocker doesn’t only work against pop-ups; in fact, it also does a great job against pop-unders and overlay ads, so that you can have a cleaner experience that doesn’t feel as intrusive as the page randomly asking you about your favorite products (you know, targeted ads).

You may have also encountered those “disable your ad blocker” messages that strategically spawn in front of all the content so that you can’t read it or view it anymore. Well, surprise surprise, Poper Blocker can also get you rid of those, which can come in extremely handy if you’ve been using an ad blocker that was usually detected by those overlays and harassed by it.

This extension is based on an algorithm that detects the right block for each pop-up by cross-checking through a URL database. This can help you avoid pop-ups that spawn in new tabs and even new windows without too much effort. Just install Poper Blocker and forget it’s even there.

If you’re wondering whether Poper Blocker is working or not, this product provides you with unobtrusive notifications, letting you know if and when a pop-up has been stopped. It’s possible to access a history of blocked content, as well, if you want to.

Furthermore, if you feel like supporting certain websites by allowing their ads on your browser, Poper Blocker also lets you do that by offering you a whitelist feature. Just add the website of your choice to the list and Poper Blocker will stop blocking its pop-ups, pop-unders, and overlays. If you encounter an overlay that Poper Blocker didn’t block automatically, you can now right-click to select and remove it manually without great effort.

Last, but not least, Poper Blocker is entirely free, so you won’t have to reach for your credit card in order to use this tool in your browser. On the other hand, Poper Blocker is only available for Chrome, which means you won’t be able to benefit from its capabilities on Firefox, Opera, Edge, or Safari.

10. NoScript

NoScript interface

NoScript is an extension that was originally designed to work exclusively on Firefox and Mozilla-based browsers (Iceweasel, Seamonkey, etc), but has made the jump to Chrome browsers as well, in the meantime. As its name says, NoScript aims to detect and block scripts that run on pages, especially those that could hide malicious code used to attack you, track you, or violate your privacy in any manner.

Although this product is great at keeping malicious and/or abusive scripts at bay, it’s not an ad blocker, although it may be able to block certain ads even now and then. However, if you’re installing it deliberately to get rid of ads, you’re probably going to be disappointed to discover that many ads may fall through the cracks and get in your line of sight.

After installing NoScript, you’ll notice that Flash, JavaScript, Java, but also other types of plugins are no longer executed by default, and will require some sort of confirmation on your part. NoScript is the middleman in this situation, and you’re the one who gets to decide which websites are worthy enough to be added to the whitelist.

You should know that scripts on web pages are not inherently bad. For instance, you may not be able to check your bank account’s balance or make an online payment without running scripts, most of which are meant to increase security in this case. So in the situation depicted earlier, you may need to whitelist the website and make NoScript skip blocking it.

NoScript uses a whitelist-based pre-emptive script blocking approach, which means that you’ll get all the protection against security vulnerability exploits such as Spectre or Meltdown while losing none of your browser’s functionality. This product also has a powerful anti-XSS component, as well as an anti-clickjacking module, so that you can rest assured knowing that you’re less likely to be targetted by these types of threats.

Now as far as whitelisting a certain website goes, the process is quite simple. You just have to click NoScript’s extension icon and select the websites you want to exclude from NoScript’s merciless blocking. Alternatively, you can use the right-click menu while you’re visiting a website that you don’t want to be blocked by NoScript.

NoScript is entirely free and open-source, so you can enjoy its full functionality without paying a dime. Unlike other similar programs, NoScript doesn’t limit the time you can use it for, nor does it hide its features behind a paywall.

Best ad blocker – Conclusion

All things considered, it goes without saying that we’re living in an age where advertisements generate a considerable amount of revenue to various online services, so it’s easy to see why avoiding them or blocking them altogether gets harder by the minute.

However, dedicated services such as the ones we’ve presented in our list can help you at least curb the number of ads displayed by your browser, if not eliminate them altogether. Some services available here can also be deployed directly on your PC, without piggybacking on a host app, in order to offer you system-wide protection which extends beyond the confines of your web browser.

Keep in mind that some of the solutions we’ve included on our list are not exactly ad blockers, although they might be able to remove some of the ads you would normally see, to some extent. Make sure to read carefully each product’s description if you want to get the best protection against abusive, obtrusive, and annoying ads.

The post 10 Best Free Ad Blockers (Reviews) in 2021 – Block Annoying Popups appeared first on AddictiveTips.

Why Do You Need A VPN For Torrenting?


Every internet enthusiast is familiar with torrenting, which is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing medium. Instead of sharing files through a central server, they’re shared through torrent networks. Although torrenting has always been a topic of debate due to myriad instances of copyright violations and piracy, its popularity is still increasing. It’s important to understand that torrenting in and of itself is not an illegal activity, however, downloading copyrighted files could land you in trouble.

If you’re engaging in torrenting even for legal activities like sharing large business files, it’s imperative to stay private online. That’s where VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, come into the picture as they create an encrypted connection to another network. So if you are wondering, “Why do you need a VPN for torrenting?“, then privacy and security is the answer. We’ll dig deeper into this question in the article below.

Anonymous Torrenting

The first and the most important feature of a VPN is that it keeps your browsing activity private and secure. No one on the internet, not even your internet service provider, will be able to track what you’re doing online. This will make torrenting safer and keep you away from spying eyes that can otherwise share your information to third parties. This implies that even if you download any unsanctioned file unintentionally, it cannot be tracked back to your IP address.

Remove geographical restrictions

Due to the increasing instance of illegal downloads, Torrent sites are banned in certain regions. Even some Internet service providers block access to torrent sites due to the threat of copyright violations. Using a VPN is a great choice in such locations as it masks your IP address and allows access to region-restricted sites. With a VPN, you can now update your favorite games or share files on Torrent sites, even if your ISP doesn’t allow it.

Protection against Hacking and Malware Attacks

Since torrenting is a form of P2P sharing, it comes with its share of risks and threats. A crash in the server could lead to you being exposed to hackers and malicious users on the internet. These users may then track your activity, collect your data, or even access your IP address, resulting in huge damage. A VPN is the best solution here as well as it is designed to provide you with the utmost security from such activities. The features like a kill switch in a VPN will protect you even if the encryption fails by disconnecting your internet connection.

Bypass Bandwidth Throttling

Some ISPs tend to retort to bandwidth throttling if they notice any P2P activity, especially torrenting. One of the main reasons why you need a VPN for torrenting is to bypass such throttling. By anonymizing your traffic, it allows faster download and streaming as the ISP won’t be able to find if you are using a P2P network.

How to choose the best VPN for torrenting

Now that you know why you need a VPN for torrenting, let’s find out how to choose the right VPN. To ease your torrenting journey, it’s important to choose a server that supports high speed and is P2P compatible.

Secondly, you must opt for a VPN that strictly follows a no-logs policy. This will ensure that the purpose of a VPN to keep your information anonymous is served without any compromise. Even on the demand by agencies to check torrenting activity, your record won’t be available as it’s never saved.

And lastly, opt for a VPN that possess features like a kill switch which will shut down your internet connection in case the VPN fails. This is important as it will become impossible to detect your IP address in the event of unlikely events like a server crash. Stay secure online and make the most of torrenting by choosing the right VPN.

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How Dangerous Is Torrenting Without VPN?

If you’re reading this article, there are probably two possible scenarios: either you’re quite new to torrenting and curious about it, or, you’ve been torrenting for a while and are curious what would happen if you stopped torrenting with a VPN. Torrenting has a bad reputation since its use has been linked with piracy of movies, software, games etc. However, torrenting itself is totally legal.

Keep in mind that you’ll only land into trouble if you downloaded unsanctioned copyrighted materials. So if you want to remain anonymous while torrenting, it’s always a good idea to use a VPN while doing so. But exactly how dangerous is torrenting without VPN? We’ll answer this question below.

Dangers of torrenting without VPN

Torrenting refers to downloading/uploading files via the BitTorrent network, which is a decentralized peer-to-peer file transfer protocol. It works by finding users who have files needed by other users on the network, then enabling simultaneous downloading of pieces of the files. If you’re privacy-conscious, you should consider torrenting using a VPN so that your ISP doesn’t track your online activities.

If you happen to get caught torrenting, the penalties you may face vary depending on the country and state you live in. Below are the dangers of torrenting without VPN from mild to severe: 

Internet connection disruptions

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can monitor your web activities using a method known as “Deep Packet Inspection”. Using this method, your ISP can know the type of traffic coming from your computer. They can either throttle (slow down) or completely block certain traffic. If the type of traffic coming from your computer is torrent traffic, your ISP will most likely throttle it — regardless of whether it’s a legal or illegal torrent. If you repeatedly download illegal torrents, your ISP could block or suspend your internet connection.

So can VPN hide torrenting? With a VPN, your torrent traffic will fully be encrypted, meaning that your ISP won’t be able to track what you do on the web — including torrenting.

Legal problems

Copyright trolls are an example of a legal risk of torrenting without VPN that you could possibly face. Copyright trolling is often used by lawyers and their firms to look for or “troll” copyright violations of videos, music, images, and games across the web. Normally, copyright owners have the rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and publicly show their work. Lawyers use software to help them look for copyright violations on the web and to monitor blogs, websites, social media, YouTube, etc. for copyright infringements. Once a lawyer identifies a potential copyright violation, they’ll send a notice asking you to prove that your torrent use was licensed, or they’ll ask you to enter into an immediate settlement by paying a certain amount of money. 

These cases, however, rarely proceed to litigation. So how can you avoid copyright trolling? Ensure you check your website or social media pages for any copyrighted materials such as videos or images. If you find any, remove them and instead use rights-free ones.

How to protect yourself from the dangers of torrenting

Use a VPN every time you’re torrenting

A VPN is your safest bet when torrenting. Will a VPN hide torrenting from ISP? Yes. A VPN will hide your real IP address from your ISP thus making it hard for anyone to track your online activities. A VPN also encrypts all your traffic data before it leaves your internet device. Since your traffic data is transferred to the VPN’s server first, your ISP won’t be able to tell where that data is going. 

So are there any free VPNs for torrenting? There are loads of free VPNs for torrenting, but the majority tend to log your online activities and don’t maintain good enough security and privacy. Keep this in mind when shopping around for VPNs.

More alternatives

If you’re not willing to pay for VPN services, you may consider using Tor. Tor is quite similar to VPN since it also encrypts your browsing data through several volunteer nodes. However, compared to a VPN, Tor is much slower and it’s normally used for simple browsing activities. Apart from Tor, you can also use Usenet. Though it’s paid monthly, Usenet allows you to download files from centralized servers rather than peer-to-peer ones.

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Is ExpressVPN Better Than NordVPN?

VPSs are becoming increasingly popular, and two of the leading names in the industry are ExpressVPN and NordVPN. If you’re looking to get yourself a VPN, then the likelihood is you’ll be considering both of these brands. Deciding which is best for you is a personal choice, since each has their plus points such as speed, pricing, and features. So is ExpressVPN better than NordVPN? The following article will compare both VPNs to help you pick which is best for you.

Pricing

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer a one-month money-back guarantee if you’re unhappy with the service. ExpressVPN offers three months free on a one-year plan which is perhaps the better deal for this period of time. However, if you’re keen to commit to a longer-term plan, NordVPN can give you a very reasonable rate for a two-year service.

Features

Each VPN provider allows for manual setup using routers with compatible firmware. There are many tutorials that can be found for each of these brands detailing how to install the VPN.

NordVPN allows for more connections to be made simultaneously than ExpressVPN. Installing your VPN on a router counts as one connection in both cases. NordVPN also has an ad-blocker system known as CyberSec that can be enabled through their app. ExpressVPN has an app that can be downloaded using virtually any operating system including iOS.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are excellent at unblocking geographically restricted streaming sites, but ExpressVPN can unblock marginally more Netflix libraries.

ExpressVPN has a smooth interface on its app and is intuitive. The server you have most recently will appear on the main screen which makes things convenient and easy. NordVPN’s app has a map of the world with each country that has a NordVPN server operating in it marked. These servers are categorized to help the user in a list on the left.

Servers

In terms of sheer number, NordVPN has more servers than ExpressVPN — although Express VPN covers more different countries. This may mean faster connection times.

NordVPN has a server feature known as VPN chaining which can route your traffic through more than one server with more encryption. This is a feature that ExpressVPN does not have, but keep in mind that it can slow your connection speeds.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN rank within the top ten fastest providers on the market. ExpressNVP is the faster of the two, with speeds of 58 Mbps compared to 11 Mbps from NordVPN.

Security

Both of these VPN brands offer a system by the name of OpenVPN which provides high-level security. ExpressVPN shades NordVPN in terms of standard of encryption which makes it a bit more secure. Having said this, each brand scrambles and encrypts the content of packets to stop repeated data from forming patterns. What’s more, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN make all DNS references go through an encrypted tunnel to stop outsiders from viewing your web activity. 

Your IP address is safe in both VPN providers’ hands thanks to security settings in their respective apps. They each have a kill switch that stops apps on your devices from connecting to the internet without your VPN. This is taken one step further by NordVPN, as their app allows you to select which apps this applies to. ExpressVPN has a similar function, but their version does not work on a per-app basis.

Privacy

As ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, there is no law forcing them to retain data. NordVPN is based in Panama, which has meant that they have had to cooperate with US authorities on occasion. However, no servers are situated within Panama, meaning information does not need to be disclosed to the government. 

NordVPN does not keep connection logs, while ExpressVPN keeps non-identifying logs. These include the date of connections, account ID, location information, and data transfer. Your IP address is not recorded.

The Bottom Line

There are certainly plus points and drawbacks to both ExpressVPN and NordVPN. As two of the most popular VPN suppliers, you can expect a top-quality service from each so it really does come down to individual preferences.

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