Content Blockers Testing Update No. 334.71

Since my initial testing, a lot more content blockers have come to market, and many have seen large updates. I ran through and tested all the content blockers I own once again, and added everyone I could find in the App Store. All told, I tested 32 content blockers on my iPhone 6s Plus to determine which is the best.

Method

  • 24 sites of news, content, media, and tech persuasions.1
  • iPhone restarted each time, and all web content/caches cleared before testing.
  • Site speed was recorded using a stopwatch waiting for the stop loading indicator to disappear.2
  • Data download recorded using Safari web inspector on Mac OS X.
  • Tested while savoring a drink of whiskey.3
  • Any sites that tested severely out of expected range were retested three times and fastest time was recorded as the final time. In some cases an errant javascript process would keep the site from fully finishing the load time. For these cases I decided to watch the web inspector for data to stop being downloaded and called that the final time.
  • Final speeds were calculated using tested time divided by total time to calculate speed savings. There are other methods of calculation, but this is the method which I prefer.

Findings

In my testing there were again three stand out apps. Script Scrap (more on that in a bit), 1Blocker, and Adamant. With Purify a very close fourth. Here’s the chart, showing both speed improvements as well as data consumption improvements:

(Click image for large version.)

As you can see, with the expanded test suite 1Blocker still holds its own. However, Adamant makes a huge jump forward after its most recent update, and Purify continues its solid performance after it was updated last.

And then there is Script Scrap. It’s fast, and I mean, it is really fast. Two sites into testing it and I had a hunch it would easily be the fastest. It just blocks a ton of stuff. Not only that, but it breaks a ton of stuff. Roughy speaking, 30% of the sites tested didn’t function — and I don’t mean they kept spinning, I mean they were not useable. YouTube was completely broken, and in fact most video embedded on any site was broken. There were two sites that just loaded to a white screen only and nothing else. For this reason, the best case is to toss out Script Scrap as a contender — it is undoubtably the fastest app, but it also breaks far too many sites to be worthwhile in any reasonable sense.

That leaves 1Blocker and Adamant at the top, with the gap between the two at just a touch over 1% in 1Blocker’s favor — however Adamant bests 1Blocker in data savings and in almost every test Adamant was slightly faster.4 Given the testing methods it is likely that 1Blocker and Adamant have identical performance all else being equal — they are well within the margin of error for these tests. Adamant also reduces more data, so it is a safe bet that it is now the best option over 1Blocker.

Which brings us to Purify.

Purify was within striking distance, and just over 2.75 points lower than 1Blocker and Adamant, while blocking almost the same amount of data as Adamant. Quite impressive and with Script Scrap being tossed out, it is the 2nd fastest content blocker on the market (if you assume 1Blocker and Adamant are tied for first).

Settings for each app
  • 1Blocker: all blocking options turned on except custom web fonts (and my custom rule to block The Deck was enabled). In the second test you can see that I tested again with ads from The Deck not being blocked. The difference was negligible.
  • Adamant: tracking blocking was turned on. I should note that the recent update now blocks The Deck by default.
  • Purify: ads and tracking blocking turned on.

Insights

Given all this testing, and extensively looking into each of the blockers, I have a few additional thoughts:

  • I would not run Script Scrap for any reason, as it just breaks too much.
  • If you own one of Purify, Adamant, or 1Blocker there is basically no reason to switch to any of the others for speed reasons, as you likely won’t notice the speed differences.
  • Likewise, if you own: AdMop, Cheerio, Clearly, Crystal, Freedom, or Pronto you are in a good position as they all tested very fast. I am not ready to recommend any of these, but if you already own one they are definitely among the faster and you are likely not to notice a speed difference.
  • There were three apps in the store, all for sale, under different names. They are identical in both performance and UI. Good lord.
  • AdFence only hides displaying ads, and so as you can see it has zero data savings.
  • Crystal, has had a ton of success on the App Store, but is going to be allowing acceptable ads soon — a big no-no in my book. It did perform well, but I doubt that will continue given what I have read in the media about its future “features”. So I would recommend against buying it and look to move away from it if you are a current user of Crystal.

Recommendation

For most people Adamant is the best choice. For pros 1Blocker’s configurability is going to be welcomed, and it could be made to be faster for the sites you visit if you are willing to take the time to add more custom rules.

Purify is a solid choice, and given it’s success in the App Store, it seems likely that it will remain under active development for quite some time. Therefore it is a solid pick to keep your eye on.

Personally, I will be running Adamant on all my secondary devices and all my families devices, but 1Blocker on my iPhone in hopes of adding more custom rules to further the speed boost.

Overall, I am very happy to see so many apps performing so much better in such a short period of time — I look forward to seeing more gains to come.

Disclosure: A few people have comment that both the maker of Adamant and I work at the same company. This is true, however Adamant is not a MartianCraft product. I also stake my reputation on the fact that these numbers have not been skewed in favor of any one blocker over the other.


  1. Full list is withheld this time to keep blockers from gaming the system. 

  2. I would have use the web inspector, but it gave too varying of times. 

  3. When testing content blockers I decided to pair the apps with Johnnie  Walker Blue. I find that this expensive bottle of whiskey pairs delightfully well with the idea of refining your browsing experience on iOS. 

  4. One site made the difference. 

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Article Details

Published
6 minutes to read.


tl;dr

Script Scrap may be the fastest, but you won’t want to use it.