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What is AdGuard Home?

Ads and trackers may follow you around the internet, disrupting, cluttering, and even altering your online experience. Most web advertisements are not only undesired but also irrelevant. Trackers use your personal information to determine the most efficient way to pitch and sell to you. Both ads and trackers cause your browser to slow down by displaying image-rich banners, pop-ups, and obnoxious animations, interfering with and degrading your web experience.

According to a recent study, there are nearly 200 million internet users worldwide who use an ad blocker, with the figure being highest in Europe at 77 million. Greece has the highest rate of ad blocking in the region, accounting for 37 percent of users.

AdGuard Home is a network-wide security software used for blocking advertisements and tracking. After you install it, it protects all devices in your home network without requiring any client-side software. With the spread of Internet-of-Things and connected devices, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to control your entire network.

AdGuard Home provides you a variety of advantages as listed below

  • Does not require the installation of any applications. All you need to do is to follow this simple setup guide.
  • It is open-source and free for personal use.
  • It supports all modern DNS privacy standards: DNSCrypt, DNS-over-HTTPS, DNS-over-TLS.
  • It provides two modes:
    • Default Mode for blocking ads and trackers, and
    • Family Mode for the same functionality plus parental control tools.
  • You can use it on any Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS operated device.
  • AdGuard provides you a faster, safer, and more comfortable web surfing experience.

We will cover the following topics briefly in this article:

  1. What is AdGuard Home
  2. How Does AdGuard Home Work?
  3. Why use AdGuard Home?
  4. How to install AdGuard Home
  5. What are The Benefits of AdGuard Home?
  6. What are The Disadvantages of AdGuard Home?

What is AdGuard Home?#

AdGuard Home is open-source security software that provides a unified solution for blocking ads and trackers on all devices within your network. Additionally, AdGuard Home accomplishes this network-wide protection without needing any software installed on your client devices. Simultaneously, it provides a user-friendly web interface that allows you to manage traffic easily, even from a mobile phone. It acts as a DNS server, redirecting tracking domains to a black hole, preventing your devices from connecting to those servers. It's based on the same software that powers AdGuard DNS servers; they share a lot of code.

AdGuard Home is a quick and simple way to block ads on any device and keep your children safe online.

AdGuard Home is also a very respectful application to your privacy. Its main principle is that you should be the one in charge of your data. As a result, AdGuard Home does not collect usage statistics and does not use web services unless you configure it to do so.

How Does AdGuard Home Work?#

AdGuard Home acts as a DNS server, redirecting tracking domains to a "black hole" preventing your devices from connecting to those servers.

When you install AdGuard Home in your network, AdGuard DNS starts to answer DNS queries. And, if a browser or an app sends an ad request, AdGuard DNS returns an empty response. AdGuard has its own domain name registry where it serves fraud, ads, and trackers. AdGuard DNS is updated on a regular and frequent basis for effective security.

AdGuard Home has two modes for AdGuard DNS to operate in. Ads, counters, harmful and phishing websites are all blocked in the Default Mode. The Family Mode does the same thing, but it also blocks adult content and enables safe search in your browser.

How AdGuard Home works

Figure 1. How AdGuard Home works

Because you have this local DNS server by using AdGuard Home, cached requests can be even faster than before, and you can avoid all unnecessary ad traffic.

Why use AdGuard Home?#

Ads and trackers keep their eyes on you wherever you click on the web, not just on your PC, but also on your mobile device/phone and even in the smart car, smart refrigerators, and other devices. Even if you have no objections to companies collecting data on you, tracking can be extremely dangerous. Ads may be more harmful than annoying you during web surfing. Since they have long been used as a gateway to various types of malware, viruses, crypto lockers, phishing, and trackers. Ads also consume a lot of bandwidth, resulting in latency and a frustrating web browsing experience.

When you run your own AdGuard Home server, you can do much more than when you use a public DNS server such as:

  • You may choose what the server will or will not block
  • Monitor activities and view what's going on in your network
  • Define your own custom filtering rules by adding your own blocking lists, exclude or block certain domains, and more
  • Query log feature offers all kinds of information about DNS requests in your network that you might need. You can also use it for adding domains to a blacklist or a whitelist quickly.

Lastly, AdGuard Home has no application dependency which means that it does not require any applications to be installed. As a result, AdGuard Home can assist in blocking ads, tracking, and analytics requests from various types of devices, such as SmartTVs, smart speakers, and other types of IoT devices (on which traditional ad blockers cannot be installed). You can use it on any device that runs Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS.

How to install AdGuard Home#

AdGuard Home is currently available for the following operating systems:

  • macOS
  • Windows 32-bit
  • Windows 64-bit
  • Linux 64-bit
  • Linux 32-bit
  • Linux 64-bit ARM
  • Linux 32-bit ARMv5
  • FreeBSD 64-bit
  • Raspberry Pi (32-bit ARMv6)
  • MIPS
  • MIPSLE

AdGuard Home provides you both manual and automated installation on Linux and Mac. But, you must install it on Windows manually.

Starting the AdGuard Home installation process necessitates only rudimentary technical knowledge and familiarity with concepts such as command prompt. However, after you complete the first few steps, you will be greeted by a visual installation wizard.

AdGuard Home Manual Installation#

You may manually install the AdGuard Home by following the next steps easily.

  1. Download the latest stable release's archive containing the binary file for your operating system. At the time of this writing, the latest version of AdGuard Home is v0.106.3

Downloading AdGuardHome

Figure 2. Downloading AdGuardHome

  1. DNS works on port 53 and requires superuser or administrator privileges. So, you must run the following command in your Linux terminal.
    sudo ./AdGuardHome

Also, if you are using Windows, you must run cmd.exe with administrator privileges and run AdGuardHome.exe from there or right click on the AdGuardHome.exe and click Run as administrator to install AdGuard Home to your Windows.

 Installing AdGuard Home as administrator on Windows

Figure 3. Installing AdGuard Home as administrator on Windows

note

If your firewall alerts you about Adguard access, click Allow access to allow the Windows Defender Firewall to allow AdGuard Home access.

Allow AdGuard Home acces on Windows Defender Firewall

Figure 4. Allow AdGuard Home access on Windows Defender Firewall

  1. When you first launch AdGuard Home, it will begin listening to 0.0.0.0:3000 and prompt you to open it in your browser:
AdGuard Home is available at the following addresses:Go to http://127.0.0.1:3000Go to [http://X.X.X.X:3000](http://x.x.x.x:3000)

Launching AdGuard Home

Figure 5. Launching AdGuard Home

  1. Connect to http://127.0.0.1:3000 with your favorite browser. You may go through the initial configuration wizard there. Click Next to proceed to the installation wizard.

AdGuard Home installation wizard

Figure 6. AdGuard Home installation wizard

  1. Select interfaces for Admin Web Interface and DNS Server. We will select All interfaces for both. Also, you may set the port to run these services. Then, click Next

Selecting interfaces running AdGuard Home Web and DNS servers

Figure 7. Selecting interfaces running AdGuard Home Web and DNS servers

  1. Enter username and password for the web interface. Then, click Next.

Setting username and password for AdGuard Home Web GUI

Figure 8. Setting username and password for AdGuard Home Web GUI

  1. Configure your devices to use an AdGuard Home device as DNS server. You may find more information about how to configure devices for AdGuard Home in below. Then, click Next.

Configuring AdGuard Home client devices

Figure 9. Configuring AdGuard Home client devices

  1. Congratulations. Your AdGuard Home installation is finished.

AdGuard Home installation is finished.

Figure 10. AdGuard Home installation is finished

AdGuard Home Dashboard

Figure 11. AdGuard Home Dashboard

Running As a Service#

Follow the next step to register AdGuard Home as a system service on Windows or Linux to enable it to start automatically after the system reboot.

  • Run sudo ./AdGuardHome -s install to install AdGuard Home as a system service on Linux.
  • Run cmd.exe with admin privileges and run AdGuardHome.exe -s install to register a windows service on Windows

Here are some additional commands that you may need to control the AdGuard Home.

  • To uninstall the AdGuard Home service run the following command:
AdGuardHome -s uninstall
  • To start the AdGuard Home service run the following command:
AdGuardHome -s start
  • To stop the AdGuard Home service run the following command:
AdGuardHome -s stop
  • To restart the AdGuard Home service run the following command:
AdGuardHome -s restart
  • To show the current AdGuard Home service status run the following command:
AdGuardHome -s status

AdGuard Home Automated Installation on Linux and Mac#

To install AdGuard Home on a Linux or Mac machine, you may run the following command in your terminal:

curl -s -S -L https://raw.githubusercontent.com/AdguardTeam/AdGuardHome/master/scripts/install.sh | sh -s -- -v

This script also accepts the following parameters:

  • -c <channel> to use specified channel.
  • -r to reinstall AdGuard Home;
  • -u to uninstall AdGuard Home;
  • -v for verbose output;
note

Options -r and -u are mutually exclusive.

Updating AdGuard Home#

AdGuard Home's UI displays a notification message and a 'Update Now' button when a new version is released. By clicking this button you may upgrade AdGuard Home to the most recent version.

AdGuard Update notification

Figure 12. AdGuard Update notification

Your old AdGuard Home executable file and its configuration file, are saved in the 'backup' directory so that you can undo the changes if necessary.

In case an automatic update has failed, you can also upgrade manually by following the steps given below:

  1. Download the new AdGuard Home package/zip file.
  2. Unpack/unzip it to a temporary directory.
  3. Replace the old AdGuard Home executable file with the new one.
  4. Restart AdGuard Home.

How to configure your client devices#

To be able to get the benefits of the AdGuard Home, your clients must use your AdGuard Home server as a DNS server. You may follow the instructions given below.

Router configuration for AdGuard Home#

You can configure your router's DHCP service to tell all network clients to use AdGuard Home's IP address as the DNS nameserver instead when it's running on your network. If you configure your router as described in this section, this setup will automatically cover all devices connected to your router, and you will not need to configure each one individually.

  1. Open the settings for your router by accessing it from your browser via a URL (like http://192.168.0.1/).
  2. Find the DHCP/DNS settings.
  3. Enter your AdGuard Home server IP addresses as a DNS server.

Android configuration for AdGuard Home#

You can configure your Android devices to use AdGuard Home by following the steps below.

  1. From the Android Menu home screen, tap Settings
  2. Tap Wi-Fi on the menu. All of the available networks will be listed.
  3. Long press the network you're connected to, and tap Modify Network.
  4. Depending on your device, you may need to check the box for Advanced to view further settings. To change the DNS settings, you will need to switch the IP settings from DHCP to Static.
  5. Set all DNS server fields to your AdGuard Home server IP address.

iOS#

You can configure your iOS devices to use AdGuard Home by following the steps below.

  1. From the home screen, tap Settings
  2. Choose Wi-Fi in the left menu
  3. Tap on the name of the network you're connected to
  4. Set all DNS server fields to your AdGuard Home server IP address.

macOS#

You can configure your macOS devices to use AdGuard Home by following the steps below.

  1. Click on the Apple icon and go to System Preferences.
  2. Click on Network.
  3. Select the first connection in your list and click Advanced.
  4. Select the DNS tab and Set all DNS server fields to your AdGuard Home server IP address.

Windows#

You can configure your Windows devices to use AdGuard Home by following the steps below.

  1. Open the Control Panel through the Start menu.
  2. Navigate to the Network and Internet category -> Network and Sharing Center.
  3. Click Change adapter settings on the left side of the screen.
  4. Select your active connection, right-click on it and choose Properties.
  5. Click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP)
  6. Click on Properties.
  7. Select Use the following DNS server addresses and enter your AdGuard Home server IP address there.

Verification of AdGuard Home Configuration#

To verify your AdGuard Home installation and configuration you may follow the instructions given below.

  1. Enter the command given below in your terminal.
nslookup doubleclick.net
  1. You should see 0.0.0.0 as the answer, because the default DNS server is now AdGuard Home, which blackholes the request.

AdGuard Home configuration verification

Figure 13. AdGuard Home configuration verification

  1. Also, you may check the doubleclick.net connection is blocked by viewing the blocked domains on AdGuard Home dashboard or searching the doubleclick.net in the Query Log tab of AdGuard Home GUI.

Viewing Query Log of AdGuard Home

Figure 14. Viewing Query Log of AdGuard Home

What are The Benefits of AdGuard Home?#

AdGuard Home has a variety of advantages that improves the security and comfort of clients in a home network. We will cover the following benefits of AdGuard Home as listed below.

  • Ad Blocking
  • Browsing Security
  • Parental Control
  • Safe Search
  • Custom Upstream Servers

1- Adblocking#

AdGuard Home provides a blocking mechanism throughout the entire system. This includes video ads as well as ads in your favorite apps, games, browsers, and websites. It also provides you access to dozens of ad filters that are regularly updated to ensure the best filtering quality.

2- Browsing Security#

AdGuard Home prevents access to harmful, fake, or malware websites. This feature is completely optional and you may enable it to protect your client against cyber threats.

Also, AdGuard Home says that its top priority is to keep your personal information safe.

If you use AdGuard, you and your sensitive data will be protected from any online tracker and analytics system that might try to steal your data while you're browsing the web. By using AdGuard for ad-blocking, you may protect yourself against the following privacy violations and security risks:

  • Tracking your data
  • Building your personality profile
  • Selling and sharing your data
  • Your behavioral analysis

3- Parental Control#

In addition to the regular benefits of ad blocking and browsing security, you may use the Family protection mode optionally to block access to all websites with adult and inappropriate content as well as enforce safe search in the browser.

Page blocked due to AdGuard Home parental control

Figure 15. Page blocked due to AdGuard Home parental control

4- Safe Search#

SafeSearch is a search engine feature that acts as an automated filter for potentially offensive and pornography or inappropriate content. While SafeSearch is not perfect, it is intended to help you block explicit results, such as pornography, from your search engine results. At the time of writing, SafeSearch is supported by Google, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, Bing and Pixabay.

When the Family Protection mode is enabled on AdGuard Home, it enforces safe search everywhere where it's possible.

Enabling Safe Search on AdGuard Home

Figure 16. Enabling Safe Search on AdGuard Home

5- Custom Upstream Servers#

AdGuard Home functions as a DNS proxy and forwards your DNS queries to the upstream servers. It allows you to customize these upstream DNS servers. Upstream server capabilities of AdGuard Home are as follow:

  • You may specify multiple upstream servers such as:
    • tls://dns-unfiltered.adguard.com : encrypted DNS-over-TLS
    • https://dns-unfiltered.adguard.com/dns-query : encrypted DNS-over-HTTPS
    • 67.45.35.40 : regular DNS (over UDP)
    • tcp://94.140.14.140 : regular DNS (over TCP)
    • sdns://... : you can use DNS Stamps for DNSCrypt or DNS-over-HTTPS resolvers
    • quic://dns-unfiltered.adguard.com:784: encrypted DNS-over-QUIC (experimental)
  • You may specify a DNS server that will be used to resolve specific domains.
    • [/mycompany.local/]91.15.21.36: You can specify a DNS upstream for the specific domain(s)
  • Bootstrap DNS servers can be specified to resolve IP addresses of DoH/DoT resolvers you define as upstreams.
  • You may specify private DNS servers for local PTR queries/ reverse DNS (rDNS) requests. These servers use rDNS to resolve the hostnames of clients with private IP addresses, such as "192.168.0.45." If this option is not selected, AdGuard Home will use your operating system's default DNS resolvers.
  • You may specify how your DNS queries will be handled by Upstream servers by choosing one of the following options:
    • Load Balancing: AdGuard Home sends your queries to only one upstream server which is the fastest server at a time.
    • Parallel Requests: AdGuard Home sends parallel requests to all upstream servers at the same time to speed up the name resolution.
    • Fastest IP address: AdGuard Home sends your queries to all upstream servers but returns only the fastest IP address among them to the clients.

Upstream DNS servers settings on AdGuard Home

Figure 17. Upstream DNS servers settings on AdGuard Home

What are The Disadvantages of AdGuard Home?#

Although AdGuard Home is a very useful ad-blocking software for home users, it has some drawbacks as follows:

1- No L7/Application filtering capabilities#

AdGuard Home does not have packet inspection capability. And, it does not have web content filtering and application control features which is vital for preventing cyber threats, such as malware, phishing, etc. Essentially, A DNS-level blocker cannot effectively block any advertising that shares a domain with content. And, there will probably be no chance for DNS-based filtering software to handle this in the future.

2- Can't Block All ADS#

Unfortunately, AdGuard cannot block all advertisements on the internet to protect and comfort you. Because security solutions that depend on DNS-based filtering cannot prevent some advertisements, such as:

  • Twitch and YouTube ads
  • Twitter, Instagram, Facebook sponsored posts

3- Some sites have started using software to detect AdGuard being used.#

There is an annoyances filter that helps get rid of the blocker detection on AdGuard Home Settings.

If, after turning on this filter and clearing the browser cache, you still get this notification.

It is advisable to send a complaint to the filter developers and they will fix this problem.

AdGuard Settings > Support > Send feedback > Missed Ads.