Top 3 must-have Google Chrome extensions

The best Google Chrome extensions is, without any doubt, AdBlock [do not confuse it with his “little-big” brother AdBlock Plus]. I simply can’t live or even think to browse the web without having it installed anymore. Nowadays nearly all webpages are full of ads and there are so many types that you can even distinguish between them: banners, pop-ups, pop-unders, etc. and they all share the same aspect: intrusiveness. Not only, in fact they can even follow and track your browsing experience site-by-site without caring about your privacy and/or giving you to ability to opt-out from this process. Luckily AdBlock give you the possibility to block ads on all websites even before they get loaded from your browser and it also blocks companies which tracks you on the web [like Google’s DoubleClick] at the same time. Be sure to select EasyList and EasyPrivacy from the blacklists menu.

Auto_HD_for_YouTubeThe second best Chrome extension in my opinion is Auto HD For YouTube by JRA Apps. This simple and lightweight extension makes your YouTube experience more seamless by automatically selecting the video quality you prefer for any videos you watch. If you’re like me in fact selecting video quality for each videos is a pain and if you’re also as lazy as I am sometimes you prefer watching a video at the ugly resolution of 240p instead of selecting 1080p or 720p and waiting for the YouTube player to reload the entire video from the beginning with the selected quality. This extensions also works with embedded videos, unlike other similar extensions.

The third best Chrome extensions is DoNotTrackMe by Abine. This extension, also available for Firefox, protects your online privacy by blocking nearly all tracking and advertising companies from seeing which sites you visit, videos you watch, purchases you make, etc.. If you use it in conjuction with AdBlock your browser will be able to protect your privacy from 99.99% of websites out in the internet. It needs no configuration  so it does the job for you right after you install it.

How to block ads and malicious websites using the host file

We all hate ads, don’t we?

Luckily nowadays there are many browser extensions like AdBlock and his brother AdBlock Plus that lets you block ads on the web using blocklists like EasyList. They do a great job and get better and precise in every new list and extensions updates, for example now both extensions can block ads in a page even before they get downloaded to help you save bandwidth and time since the page will load faster. But those are extensions of your web browser so they will need some RAM memory to work and also they could make your browser run slower, especially if you do some intense browsing and you have multiple tabs loaded.

Is there a way to block all possible ads, like AdBlock and AdBlock Plus do without extensions? The answer is: yes [of course] and you don’t need any additional software we just need the already present host file.

For the one who don’t know a host file is a file present in all OSs in which there is a list of websites who the user won’t be able to access. This is a [empty] host file:

So, for example if I don’t want the user able to access the New York Times website I just need to add it like this in the host file like this:

127.0.0.1            www.nytimes.com

and the website will be blocked. This principle can be used to block ads websites and already know malicious one [full of malware, viruses, etc.] but to be sure to block all of those sites you will need to add every single one of them to the host file and, trust me, there are a lot of them.

Luckly MSMVPS already did the job for us creating a host file with all those websites and they also update it once a month with newly discovered bad-websites and all the ads stuff. Here you can download the latest version:

http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.zip

There are 3 different ways to install it, based on your operative system:

  • Windows:
  1. Right click and select “Run as Administrator” on the mvps.bat file
    It will do the job for you renaming the old host file to host.mvps for backup and replacing it with the new one.
  2. Reboot
  • Mac OS X:
  1. Copy the HOST file and replace the one in private/etc/
    [If you need help to 
    reach this folder press Command+Shift+G and write “private/etc/”, then press Ok]
  2. Open the Terminal and paste this text to flush the DNS Cache:
    dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder
  3. Reboot
  • Linux:
  1. In the Terminal run:
    vi /root/update_hosts.sh
  2.  Fill the file with:
    #!/bin/bash
    cd /tmp
    wget http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt
    rm /etc/hosts
    mv hosts.txt /etc/hosts
    cat ~/.etchosts >> /etc/hosts
  3.  Make the script is executable:
    chmod +x update_hosts.sh
  4.  Close the Terminal and re-open it and paste this:
    crontab -e
  5. Enter this:
  6. 59 23 * * * /root/update_hosts.sh
  7. Done.

There you have it, now your OS will block those noisy ads for you and you won’t need any AdBlock extensions, also this will also add an extra layer of security to your system.