Neil Turner's Blog

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DoNotTrackMe vs Disconnect – comparing privacy extensions

DoNotTrackMe screenshotAs you make your way across the internet, there are many sites which will discretely track the pages that you visit, whether it’s through displaying advertising or integration with social networks. If you don’t want third-parties to be able to track you, then there are a couple of browser extensions that you can install. These will block most tracking widgets, and, as a by-product, potentially speed up your internet browsing.

I’m going to review the two that I’m aware of – DoNotTrackMe and Disconnect.

DoNotTrackMe by Abine

I’ve reviewed DoNotTrackMe before, back when it was called Do Not Track Plus. The extension has been updated since; not just with a new name but also with more companies to block.

It’s available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Disconnect

DisconnectI’ve not come across Disconnect before but it was mentioned in a Lifehacker article yesterday so I had a look at it. It works in a very similar way to DoNotTrackMe but additionally it will also force sites to use HTTPS where possible (in a similar way to HTTPS Everywhere). It can also be set to block some other types of third-party content that may or may not track you, although this is off by default.

Disconnect is for Chrome and Firefox – there’s currently no Safari or Internet Explorer extension.

Comparing the two

Having used both in turn, I prefer DoNotTrackMe – Disconnect’s font rendering looks weird and it doesn’t seem to be as configurable. I also already have an extension that forces HTTPS so I don’t need this feature.

DoNotTrackMe also has the advantage of working with more browsers, although neither works in Opera. I also found it to more effective at blocking Google’s +1 buttons on pages which Disconnect didn’t block.

I asked on Lifehacker how other people felt Disconnect compared to DoNotTrackMe, and the responses received suggest that Disconnect is a little lighter on resources, particularly in Google Chrome, and overall is less invasive.

Unfortunately I don’t think you could easily run both extensions at the same time, since they do the same job, so you would need to choose one. DoNotTrackMe would therefore be my recommendation.

8 Comments

  1. I have both extensions running on Chrome. They coexist for the most part, although lately I have noticed that one extension will block a site or cookie before the other one does, generating an error message in the Chrome Extension settings page.

    On the whole I prefer Disconnect, and any time I have reported a problem with it (for example it used to block some legitimate javascript on LinkedIn) the problem was personally answered and fixed within hours.

  2. Oh, one more thing. On THIS site to which I am posting right now, Disconnect reports that 10 things had to be blocked, including a Twitter and Google cookie (likely Google Analytics). DoNotTrackMe reported blocking three things (Google AdSense, WordPress Analytics, and Twitter Badge). Because no error message about conflict was generated by either of these extensions, I assume there was no conflict, and each extension is blocking separate things.

    • Google will be the advertising, and Twitter will be the Twitter box, both on the right-side of the screen.

    • I’m also running both in chrome Disconnect was blocking 20 items on this page while DoNotTrack was blocking 3. I’ve gotten the silly little chrome conflict error a couple times but it’s no biggie. (FYI I’m running Adblock, MaskMe, OneTab, Webroot, and Click&Clean in addition with no real lag or issues)

  3. Thanks for checking out Disconnect! I’m one of the Disconnect developers and just stumbled onto this post. The font rendering was a problem on Windows and was fixed awhile ago: http://www.ghacks.net/2013/04/15/disconnect-2-visualize-and-block-third-party-code-on-websites/#comment-1794812.

    • Permanently blocking the Content section

      in order to permanently block the Content section you first need to click the Content icon to temporarily block it and then do this:

      – about:config

      – extensions.disconnect.blacklist

      – “anygivenpage.com”:{“Content”:{“blacklisted”:true}}
      //”anygivenpage” would be the one you just blocked
      //if the page you want to block is the last one listed, then it has to end with a trile “}” (}}})

      that’s quite tedious to be honest. Hope you guys fix this.

  4. I did a test on this page, running them separately (DNTM acts like a backup blocker when another one is running, or that’s what Abine claims), and this were the results

    DoNotTrackMe (2)
    Twitter Badge: 1
    Google+: 1

    Disconnect (29)
    Google: 1
    Twitter: 1
    Content: (Automattic) 17, (Google) 9

    so… hands down I’ll go with Disconnect.

    Tho Disconnect doesn’t block the things on “Content” section by default, worst case scenario is “it’ll get you as protected as DoNotTrackMe.”

  5. Here’s the clincher for me. Disconnect is open-source. DoNotTrack is not.