Say goodbye to the ads...most of the time
Written: Jan 10, 2002
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Very effective and highly configurable ad and privacy filter, it's free
Cons:Some web pages do not function with this software, Pop-up window filter is too generic.
The Bottom Line: Even with 3.0's problems, its hard not to recommend it because when it works (which is most of the time) it works well, and it's free.
Webwasher 3.0 is a highly configurable and very effective web ad and privacy filter. It installs as a proxy on your own machine which means it sits "between" your browser and the internet connection. Installation is fairly straight forward and IE and Netscape browsers are automatically configured to go through Webwasher. Other browsers should work if they can be configured to use a proxy. Once in place, any requests from your web browser then go through Webwasher first, and any information is filtered per Webwashers many flexible settings.
The most notable filter, and perhaps the biggest reason for obtaining Webwasher, is a very well done ad filter. The ad filter supresses banners and ad graphics that slow download times and displaying of web pages. This is very practical over dialup connections because ads can take a very noticeable amount of time to fetch, and freqently the download of the rest of the page is delayed until the ad shows. Even those of you with broad band connections though might find this function of use if you find the ads are just plain annoying, or just hate to have rampant and sometimes ruthless advertising shoved down your throats.
The ad filter works by keying on image sizes and also a "blacklist" of your own doing if you find some ads making it through. I find the image size filter blocks almost all of the ads out there. What if there is a page that you don't want the ads blocked on, or what if a page requires ads to run, or has image sizes that match common ad image sizes? No problem, add the web site to the "do not filter" list and that site is no longer blocked.
There is also a pop-up window filter to disable all window pop-ups. In the past I had left this disabled because it cannot be configured. It's an all or nothing deal, which means while I might miss those annoying X10 cam ads, I also might miss free shipping coupons and sale announcements from other sites. I'd really like to see a "blacklist" like the ad filters use. I just found a reason to keep it enabled though, as the other night I found 15-20 Orbitz pop-ups on my computer. The offending site? Why the site you're accessing right now!
There is also a scripts filter which I have yet to use so I cannot comment on what it does or how well it does it. There is also an animated GIF filter. This optionally downloads and displays only the first frame of an animated GIF or animates them a specified period of time or disables them completely if you so choose.
Webwasher is also chock full of privacy filters. Webbugs filter disables the extremely annoying icons that are starting to find there way onto web pages like the equally annoying network logos on television screens. There is also a referer filter so if you jump from one web site to another through a banner, the new web site cannot find out who "refered" you, and thus know where you've been. There are also cookie filters that filter sites through blacklists, and a way to prevent scripts from getting at your cookies. Last but not least there is a URL filter which will block any URL you specify.
With all this, what's there not to like? Well, generally, Webwasher does it's job very well. It is compatable with perahps 99% of web sites out there, but that 1% that don't work cause real problems. Three sites I visit regularly, www.ebay.com, www.aa.com, and groups.yahoo.com insist that Webwasher be taken completely out of the loop to function at all. Adding sites to the "do not filter lists" or even disabling Webwasher (by clicking on the icon in the tray) have no effect. The only way to get these sites working properly is to disable the proxy settings in Internet Explorer, or (as I have) configured the proxy settings manually, and adding the offending sites to the "bypass proxy" list. Finding the problem and the fix was a source of pure frustration for many days, and is the only reason this software does not rank higher in my book.
What's wierd about these sites is they're big name sites, one would not expect problems of this magnitude here. None of these sites are very ad intensive at all (in fact, there largely void of any ads) so I don't understand why this should even be a problem. Also the fix of course disables all of Webwasher's functions. I can only guess that something stays active in Webwasher, even if it is completely shut off that keeps these sites from comming through. Before I upgraded to version 3.0, I had been using 1.1. Although 1.1 only served as an ad blocker, it was flawless. If you can find an older version, I'd recommend it over 3.0 unless you need 3.0's features.
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