Several trackers track your activities each time you browse online. Many scripts load alongside websites that love nothing more than following you and keeping tabs on your browsing activity. Generally, the intention is to target you with personalized advertisements. But you never know what else to do with this data.
That’s why the built-in tracking prevention feature in the Chromium version of Microsoft Edge is so useful. It offers three levels of protection – basic, balanced and strict – that can help you outsmart web trackers and malicious scripts online.
But which level of follow-up prevention works best? Should you use it in the first place? Why not just install a content blocking extension instead? Let’s see the answers to these questions below.
Several levels of follow-up prevention
Tracking prevention is built into Microsoft Edge Chromium on PC and Mac. You can also find it in the mobile versions (iOS and Android) of Microsoft Edge. And it offers three distinct levels – basic, balanced, and strict – that you can easily switch between.
The basic setting does not block advertising, analytics, or social trackers on websites, which works well if the custom ads don’t bother you. Suppose you are looking for something and associated ads suddenly appear on the websites you visit. Well, that won’t stop them.
But it will stop harmful scripts in their tracks. Sketchy sites often run malicious code that uses your device’s resources to extract cryptocurrencies. Not only do they slow down your web browsing, but they also affect battery life. The basic setting avoids this. In addition, it also blocks fingerprint scripts that use device-specific information to track you.
Balanced is the default tracking prevention setting used by Microsoft Edge Chromium. If you’re scared of personalized ads, this setting should do you good. It blocks most of the ad trackers right away, so you won’t see, for example, that toaster you just searched for in Google showing up everywhere in the ads!
The Balanced parameter also avoids the negative impact of anti-tracking. It does not block trackers which are essential for the functionality of a site so that you are not caught up with broken site elements.
The Strict Tracking Prevention setting blocks almost all trackers that load alongside websites. Yes – even those that are necessary for the proper functioning of a site. Don’t worry, the majority of sites will still display well. But expect weird quirks, such as faulty social media plugins or embedded videos that aren’t playing properly.
Tracking prevention is not advertised as an ad blocker, but the Strict setting also allows fewer ads to be loaded, possibly due to the lack of third-party trackers.
The Strict level even improves site performance; this is possible because most trackers – advertising, analytics, social, etc. – are not authorized to use system resources. This also applies to the Balanced parameter, but to a lesser extent.
What level of follow-up prevention works best
It depends on what you want. If you prefer personalized ads without being exposed to crypto and invasive fingerprints, the basic level of tracking prevention should work like a charm.
But if you hate personalized ads, use the Balanced setting. This allows you to find a good balance (no pun intended) to preserve your privacy while leaving sites the means to pay their bills. It is also the default setting and level recommended by Microsoft.
If you are extremely aware of your privacy and you don’t mind that a few sites interrupt the process, choose Strict. It also blocks most ads. But you can still use the built-in exception list to add sites that you support or trust, or sites that break.
If you use follow-up prevention
There is no reason why you should not do it. At the very least, you should use basic tracking prevention as it prevents dangerous tracking scripts and malicious code from running on your desktop or mobile.
If you think for a few seconds, you can always check the prevention of tracking in action by clicking on the padlock icon in the address bar, then pointing to Trackers. And there will be a lot of blocked trackers listed, which will change depending on the level of prevention tracking used.
Point: You can also turn off tracking prevention for a site through the padlock menu – useful when using the strict level of tracking prevention.
But the idea is that these trackers would spread if they weren’t blocked. If your privacy is important, you should use follow-up prevention.
Modification of prevention levels of follow-up
Prevention of tracking is enabled by default in Microsoft Edge. And it uses the Balanced parameter. If you want to go to another level, access the list of exceptions or completely disable the functionality (not recommended), here’s how to find the tracking prevention settings on your desktop or mobile.
Windows / macOS
Step 1: Open the Edge menu, then click Settings.
2nd step: Go to the Privacy and Services tab.
Step 3: Select the required level of protection – Basic, Balanced or Strict – using the commands located under the Prevention prevention section. Or use the switch next to Tracking Prevention to turn off the feature.
If you want to exclude a website, click Exceptions, then add the website URL.
Point: Turn on the switch next to “Always use” strict “tracking prevention when browsing InPrivate” to increase your privacy in InPrivate mode, regardless of the level of tracking prevention used for normal web browsing.
iOS / Android
Step 1: Display the Edge menu, then tap Settings.
2nd step: Tap Privacy and security. On the next screen, tap Tracking prevention.
Step 3: Upgrade to the required follow-up prevention level. Or turn off the switch next to Tracking Prevention to turn off the feature.
Tap Exceptions to add the URL of the site you want to exclude.
Prevention of tracking against ad blockers
The Microsoft Edge add-on store contains many content blocking extensions that can also help you maintain your privacy. Extensions like uBlock Origin can do a better job of blocking trackers than the built-in tracking prevention module.
However, extensions also pose their share of privacy issues as they have access to your browsing activity. Some of the content blockers in the Microsoft Edge add-ons store seem pretty sketchy! In addition, extensions consume additional system resources and can slow down the browser.
However, tracking prevention is already built into Microsoft Edge, causes fewer performance issues, and is generally more secure.
Note: The mobile versions of Microsoft Edge also have a content blocker integrated by Adblock Plus (Edge settings> Content blockers). You can use it instead, but preventing tracking gives you more control when blocking trackers.
Preserve your privacy
Preventing follow-up is an incredibly useful feature. The people of Redmond have done a great job of making their browsers safer without leaving the user to figure out ways to preserve their privacy. Well done, Microsoft.
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Last updated on April 17, 2020