Ghostery Review 2024


Ghostery is a free and open-source cybersecurity product that is well-known among online privacy enthusiasts. It evolved to feature-rich privacy protection software with a proprietary web browser, search engine, and in-depth tracking analytics.

Ghostery ensures your online activities remain private and secure from unwanted attention through efficient tracker shutdown, excellent ad-blocking capabilities, and cookie management services.

However, Ghostery has its downsides too. For instance, the Android version is only available as an extension for Firefox, which is uncommon since many users prefer the Chrome browser on their devices. Additionally, Ghostery lacks customer support channels if anything goes wrong.

But there are lots of other great ad-blocking tools out there, like Total Adblock, that work really well.

Best alternative to Ghostery
Total Adblock stands out as one of the strongest ad blockers available in 2024. You can add it to your browser as an extension or use it as a mobile app. It effectively blocks all kinds of ads, and the best part is, you can try it for free.
cybernews® score
4.7 /5

In this Ghostery review, we will overview its security features, browser extension compatibility, how good its ad blocking is, and whether Ghostery is safe for day-to-day browsing.

TOP Choice
Total AdBlockGhostery
⭐ Rating:
4.7
4.1
🥇 Overall rank:#2 out of #9#7 out of #9
💵 Price:From $1.99/month-
✂️ Free version:YesYes
🛑 Blocks trackers:YesYes
🍿 Blocks YouTube ads:YesYes
🖥️ Compatibility:Android, iOSWindows, MacOS, Linux, iOS
🌐 Supported browsers:Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and EdgeChrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Edge
🔥 Coupons:Total Adblock coupon 80% OFF!Cybernews ad blocker coupons
Best alternatives:

Ghostery pros & cons

Ghostery capabilities

Ghostery is a robust anti-tracking tool that rivals the with its ad-blocking capabilities. Its ad-blocking makes your web browser faster and safer by disabling pop-ups and ads that use limited device resources or can even host malware. Simultaneously, its anti-tracking features prevent websites from gathering and sharing your online data.

Ghostery successfully shuts down several types of ads. You can expect to see fewer video ads, like autoplay ads on YouTube – excellent for saving expensive mobile data and battery life! It also neutralizes display ads, like various advertising texts, banners, videos, and images on news sites and social media.

ghostery-detailed-view2

On the other hand, Ghostery does not block push notifications, which is unsurprising as even the best ad-blockers struggle to do so. Regarding trackers, this tool has a library of over 5000 trackers from over 3000 companies and will display in-depth details about shutting them down.

Ghostery doesn’t block trackers on Firefox and Chrome on Mac, which can be considered a downside for macOS users.

Is Ghostery safe?

Yes, Ghostery is safe to use. Ghostery enhances users' online security by effectively blocking ads, banners, and pop-ups, making it helpful for malvertising protection. Although it will not prevent a computer virus infection like a robust antivirus, it helps to minimize the risks.

Moreover, it offers great anti-tracking toolkits. It prevents web pages from collecting user data via HTTP cookies or canvas fingerprinting. Ghostery's Private browser offers HTTPS-Only Mode to force encryption on all websites. Lastly, its Private Search lets you enjoy the Google-like search engine without worrying about extensive data mining.

While there are differing opinions about Ghostery online, particularly regarding scandals related to selling user data to advertisers, we have reviewed its Privacy Policy and are pleased with its efforts to address past issues.

Before being acquired by Cliqz, a privacy-focused web browser, in February 2017, Ghostery's revenue model raised some concerns. Ghostery earned money by allowing users to share data about the ad trackers they encountered online. This data was then sold to companies, such as e-commerce websites, to help them understand why their websites might not be loading quickly.

Compatibility

Ghostery is available as a browser extension or a stand-alone app on Androids. Ghostery is safe to install on these web browsers:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Edge
  • Safari
  • Tor browser
  • Brave
  • Yandex

This privacy tool is available on all operating systems that can run named browsers. However, it is slightly different per device. For example, iOS users get the Ghostery Safari browser extension or the proprietary Private browser. Meanwhile, the Ghostery Android app is available on Google Play, but the extension for Chrome browser is reserved only for desktop devices.

Ghostery cost and payment options

Ghostery is a genuinely free privacy protection software that accepts user donations for a contributor tag. Although the latter enjoy some exclusive benefits, they are restricted to quality-of-life features and data reports. In other words, Ghostery is equally safe and efficient for paying and non-paying users alike. You can become a Ghostery contributor, but the benefits, such as themes and historical stats, may not be substantial.

It's worth mentioning that you can also become a contributor without spending anything at all. You will get the tag if you contribute to Ghostery's open-source code on Github, report bugs and broken pages to their support agents, update Ghostery's WhoTracks.me database, or simply promote the service to others. See the table below for more details.

As you can see, Ghostery's contributors (paying users) only get non-essential benefits, like app theme customization, more statistics, and faster support.

FeaturesFree versionContributor
Ad-blocking✅Yes✅Yes
Anti-tracking✅Yes✅Yes
Never-consent✅Yes✅Yes
Basic tracker analytics✅Yes✅Yes
Settings sync✅Yes✅Yes
Themes❌No✅Yes
Historical stats❌No✅Yes
Fast & private browsing✅Yes✅Yes
No private sponsored links❌No✅Yes
Private search engine✅Yes✅Yes
Privacy digest✅Yes✅Yes
WhoTracks.me statistical reports✅Yes✅Yes
Priority user support❌No✅Yes

How to use Ghostery?

Getting started with Ghostery is very easy and takes only a few clicks. We've prepared a concise step-by-step guide to make it even more straightforward. Follow these steps:

  1. Find Ghostery in the extension store
  2. Choose the add Ghostery option ghostery-in-the-extension-store2
  3. Find it on your browser extensions list
  4. Left-click on Ghostery icon and then on the three vertical dots in the upper right side left-click-on-ghostery-icon
  5. Review the settings and enjoy private browsing

You can also get Ghostery for Android on the Google Play store, and the Apple Store provides a Ghostery extension for Safari and its Private browser.

Ghostery browser extension

The Ghostery extension is easy to deploy but is not particularly beginner-friendly. For starters, turning on the Ghostery ad blocker is as easy as adding the extension to your browser. You can then left-click on it and modify the ad-blocking, anti-tracking, and never-consent features on the main window.

ghoster-simple-look

However, things get slightly more complex once you switch to a detailed view. Below is an example from Ghostery Android anti-tracking data.

ghostery-android-anti-tracking-data

The abundance of information is admirable, but casual Internet users may find it hard to separate CDN, hosting, or site analytics trackers. On this window, contributing users can select the Historical Stats that display even more in-depth information, like data point anonymity, blocked ads and trackers, and more.

The Settings section also requires some polishing. At first glance, it is not evident what the Tracker-Tally option is or that Notifications refer to Ghostery's notifications but not other apps or browsers.

On the other hand, the Ghostery Chrome extension takes but a few clicks to activate and will not overwhelm the user if they do not dwell in advanced settings. The same applies to Ghostery for Firefox or Ghostery Opera extension.

Ghostery for Android

Ghostery Android users must go to Google Play and download it as a stand-alone app. It includes the proprietary Private browser we prioritize over Chrome regarding online privacy protection. Ghostery Private browser efficiently blocks Android ads, turns off trackers, and resolves search queries through its secure search engine that does not collect data.

ghostery-cookies

After getting the first cookie pop-up, it will offer to enable the never-consent feature that will get rid of them in the future. You can also add trusted & restricted sites to allow ads and trackers on chosen websites.

Ghostery for iOS

Ghostery iOS version is available as a Safari browser extension or a Private browser, which you can download from the Apple App Store. Safari extension does not automatically redirect through its private search engine but displays tracker information near each search result. You can also turn on search engine redirect protection, as seen in the image below.

ghostery-settings

iOS users can also download Ghostery's Private browser if they want to switch from Safari to a more privacy-friendly option. Otherwise, they get the same ad-blocking and anti-tracking features as other versions.

Ghostery features

Ghostery isn't as packed with features and easy to use as some other providers. Its main focus is on trackers. However, as an ad blocker, it gets the job done by stopping different types of annoying ads like pop-ups, video ads, banners, trackers, and others.

Cookie pop-ups are everywhere. Whenever you visit a website for the first time (sometimes even repeatedly), it displays a cookie consent pop-up instead of letting you get directly where you're going.

Comparable to Total Adblock, Ghostery’s never-consent feature will automatically choose the most optimal privacy settings without displaying the cookie pop-up to the user. Furthermore, it will also send a Do Not Track request to the website and shut down any user tracking attempts.

Ironically, about a year ago (in 2023), Ghostery itself popped up every time I opened my browser, asking if I wanted to enable the never-consent feature. Now it appears that the issue has been resolved.

Whitelister

Setting exceptions in Ghostery's Trust & Restrict section allows users to customize functions, including permitting ads and trackers on specific pages. Simultaneously, you can add restricted sites that will have all trackers blocked without exception.

restricted-sites-ghostery

However, using its whitelisting and blacklisting features can be a bit confusing. For instance, when you blacklist a website, it's unclear whether all ads from that site will be blocked or just some. Also, the feature that shows the number of ads blocked may sometimes be unreliable.

Private browser

Similar to Surfshark CleanWeb and Avast ad blocker, Ghostery offers its Private browser. Ghostery's Private browser is available on:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • iOS

Firstly, it's not a Chromium-based browser with enhanced cybersecurity settings like some of the best browsers for 2024. It is based on Mozilla's Firefox browser, one of the most privacy-friendly popular web browsers.

This browser does not collect personal user data, has an integrated private search engine that does not log search history, and shuts down ads and trackers. It has a Ghost mode (similar to Chrome's Incognito, but better) that will erase additional browsing details like entered password, cache, or anything input on website form fields. Lastly, it has an HTTPS-Only Mode to enforce robust website encryption.

Trackers preview and analytics

Being primarily anti-tracking software, Ghostery provides tons of information regarding online surveillance. Firstly, you will notice its Tracker Preview icon near the search engine results. It gives you an idea of how many trackers the website hosts, as seen in the image below.

ghostery-trackers

The Detailed View tab on Ghostery's main window displays all the different trackers it identified and blocked. They are separated into categories, like hosting or Audio/Video trackers, and there's a lot more information about it in the Historical Stats section, available to contributors.

Moreover, In Ghostery’s Private Browser, next to the private search button, there's a button for Ghostery Insights Beta. Using this feature is free, but you'll need to sign up and verify your email. Once you dive into Ghostery Insights, you might feel a bit puzzled. Do you need to know when each tracker loads, who their "parent" is, or global trends about them? I tested out the insight section and found it confusing and not very helpful for a regular ad blocker user.

Ghostery test results

Ghostery's features are admirable, but we cannot verify whether Ghostery is safe without tests. We tested it on three ad-blocking platforms, and here are the results.

Firstly, we checked how it performs on the Canyoublockit. The Ghostery Chrome extension did very well but did not block one clickable ad link. The iOS Private browser and Safari extension didn't stop only the direct link ads. Meanwhile, Ghostery for Firefox and macOS Chrome and Firefox extensions also allowed pop-under ads.

Next, we went to the AdBlock Tester. The Chrome extension got a perfect 100/100 points, blocking every ad the test threw at Ghostery. We got the same results for macOS Chrome and Firefox Ghostery extensions and iOS Private browser. The Android and Safari extension versions scored 96/100 and 97/100, respectively, failing only at error monitoring. Surprisingly, the Ghostery Firefox extension got only 83/100 points because it allowed Google Analytics tools. Overall, these are nearly perfect results.

Additionally, we tested it on the Cover Your Tracks platform. Its Private browser blocked all tracking ads and invisible trackers on Windows, iOS, Chrome, and Firefox extensions. The Safari extension offers only partial protection from tracking and invisible ads, although other tests highlight a different view.

Finally, I noticed that some users recently reported that for certain pages' scrolling is "broken" due to the cookie consent feature, so I decided to test it myself. Thankfully, this didn't happen very often; only a few pages had issues with it. However, during my research, I found that this is a common problem. Luckily, in many cases, it's easy to fix for customer support once a ticket is submitted.

Overall, these are positively high scores. Keep in mind that websites and ad agencies do their best to overcome ad-blocking and anti-tracking, so getting a perfect score is nearly impossible. Ghostery results indicate it is a safe and efficient privacy protection software.

Customer support

Ghostery
24/7 live chat❌No
Email✅Yes
Phone line❌No
Self-help section✅Yes
GitHub repository✅Yes
FAQ✅Yes

Ghostery does not offer phone or live chat support options, which is common regarding free software. Instead, it directs you to the FAQ self-help section or lets you submit a ticket.

ghostery-support

Also, developers can raise an issue on the Ghostery GitHub repository. I'd suggest sharing your issue on Reddit as well. Sometimes, people from customer support respond to these threads faster than they resolve tickets.

Conclusion: Is Ghostery any good and worth getting?

Yes, Ghostery is worth getting, especially considering its entirely free version. But is Ghosterly paid any good? That depends. You may want to consider becoming a contributor to support Ghostery's fight for online privacy rights. Simultaneously, tech-savvy online surveillance critics will benefit from its in-depth tracking analysis.

Otherwise, we advise sticking to its free version. The proprietary Ghostery Private browser is a decent Google Chrome alternative with built-in ad-blocking and anti-tracking capabilities. Ghostery performed well during our tests. However, although it is easy to download and install, the analytics and settings sections are not suited for beginners. Moreover, Ghostery Android version is an extension for Firefox only. As many users most likely are using Chrome on their Android devices, this can be less efficient. Additionally, during our tests, we spotted some issues with tracker and ad blocking on different browsers such as Firefox and Safari.

Overall, It is safe to use, but I would recommend Total Adblock, as it’s more user-friendly and is exceptional at ad blocking. I prefer this service for its usability and great features, which don’t feel overcrowded. You can even buy this ad blocker with an antivirus package to safeguard your online data and protect your device from malware.


More ad blocker reviews from Cybernews


FAQ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are markedmarked