Send Your Ads Down the PiHole

Are you tired of getting ads plastered all over the website you’re visiting? What about those ads when you load videos on YouTube? Go out and get yourself a Raspberry Pi and setup PiHole on it to get rid of most of these ads.

What is a Raspberry Pi and PiHole?

A Raspberry Pi is a small, low-powered, and inexpensive computer that can be purchased for around $40. PiHole is an application that can be installed on a Raspberry Pi that will act as your DNS server and resolve domain requests.

How does it work?

In the typical home network, there are multiple devices connected behind a router that communicates with these devices. In this scenario, the router is most likely acting as the DNS server as well. So when the user is on their computer and types in in their browser, the DNS server will get that request, look at its list, and return the matching IP address.

With a Pihole acting as your DNS server, you can control what happens with these DNS requests.

If there is a server that is known to serve ads, you can choose to have those blocked or have the requests sent down the PiHole where it will never be resolved. This works great for all the smart TVs calling home to report metrics on your usage and any other data it is collecting. It can also be used to filter out some of the malicious websites as well.

In the picture above, the request that’s being made from the EchoPlus device is being blocked. Based on its domain naming scheme, it looks to be sending home metrics it has gathered.

It‘s not perfect.

PiHole has worked really well in the past for blocking YouTube ads but that has been less effective recently. YouTube has circumvented the blocking of their ads by serving the content from the same servers as the ads. So by blocking those servers you will also be blocking the content as well. There are a lot of IP lists out there of known IP addresses that are ad/malware related that can be easily added to your PiHole. Even though it’s becoming less effective with YouTube, it does work for blocking most things and makes web browsing a much cleaner experience.

Check out the resources below to get started.