Online advertising is one of the best examples of "can't live with it; can't live without it" we can think of: it's annoying, at times extremely so, yet it pays the bills and even occasionally informs, entertains, and assists consumers. Most of the time you wish you could just block it out, though, especially the worst offenders, the flashing, animated Web ads designed to stooge-slap your attention span. AdFender is a free, standalone ad-blocking tool that not only works with all major browsers but also some less common ones, too, such as Opera, Safari, Maxthon, Lunascape, Avant, K-Meleon, and Epic. It can also block ads in P2P and IM apps. It's frequently updated to keep up with the latest adware and browsers.
AdFender's documentation notes that you'll have to allow access through your firewall or security software for its filtering to work. Most of the time, AdFender runs in the background and resides in the system tray, where we could disable or exit the program, open the Main Console, enable debugging, and access other functions. The Main Console is a compact dialog displaying statistics for the Current Session and Lifetime. The left-hand menu let us add or remove allowed Web sites, select apps for filtering, and manage your IE cookies, history, and log files. We could also set AdFender to play a sound when it blocks something, though that can be more annoying than the ads themselves. Under Settings, AdFender had added several Microsoft sites by default, including update, download, and Office sites. There's a good Help file, too.
It's extremely easy to see what AdFender does for yourself: Simply browse to an ad-saturated site, activate AdFender, and reload the page. We did this on numerous pages that see millions of hits every day, including some big news, entertainment, and social networking sites. AdFender didn't block every ad, though nearly everything it allowed was actually a site promotion or was otherwise hosted or linked to the main site and content, so it's debatable if it's even advertising. But AdFender replaced a lot of annoying, flashing, bleepedy-bleeping ads with plain gray bars labeled Advertising. Toggling the tool off and reloading the page restored the ad content. AdFender worked well without being a problem itself.