Does pihole make any difference?

The Internet is full of advertisements and marketing services which are marking and chasing you all over the web. I believe it is fair - if a user doesn’t pay for the product, the user becomes a product. Another problem with tracking and advertising services that they significantly affect browsing experience by draining up CPU, memory, making page look laggy, often affecting responsiveness.
Fortunately, the PiHole project helps to turn many of them off. More details about it are in my previous post

One might wonder, does pihole make any difference or it's just a placebo for a few geeks? I did a small research and took some measurements for the different websites with and without tracking.

Measurements were taken:

  • Screenshot of the page - it's interesting to see if there is any significant visual difference, compare space occupied by the banners
  • Number of requests - every request takes a lot of time even via the modern Internet protocols and fast internet connection. Also, downloading an additional code makes the page behave laggy as the browser needs to run it soon after. That's why the first seconds after the page visually completes it can behave a little hectic.
  • Data transfered - the more data it needs the more time to pull information is required.
  • Html loaded - it's a time required for broswer to load html page itself when DOMContentLoaded is emitted. I record an average time as this time can fluctuate significantly
  • Page loaded - time to 'load' event, when all direct dependencies of the web page are loaded. That include stylesheets, javascript and images

Examples

Oxford Learner's Dictionaries

Before
Oxford Learner's Dictionaries without pihole

After
Oxford Learner's Dictionaries website with pihole on

In numbers (before and after):

  • Requests: 59 vs 245
  • Data: 1.45Mb vs 2.15Mb
  • Html loaded: 1.5s vs 3.6s
  • Page loaded: 2.5s vs 6.7s

Yahoo UK

Before

Yahoo UK without pihole

After
Yahoo UK with pihole on

In numbers (before and after):

  • Requests: 157 vs 362
  • Data: 2.26Mb vs 4.15Mb
  • Html loaded: 2.21s vs 2.5s
  • Page loaded: 6.7s vs 17s

Mirror UK

Before

Mirror UK without pihole

After

Mirror UK with pihole on

In numbers (before and after):

  • Requests: 180 vs 1200+
  • Data: 6.24Mb vs 13Mb
  • Html loaded: 810ms vs 3.64
  • Page loaded: 9.3s vs 2mins

By far this is the most impressive website. Just a single page hits the internet more than 1200 times pinging virtually all possible advertisement networks about your visit.

1200+ requests per single page, no kidding:
Enormous amout of requests sent from single mirror uk webpage


CNN

Before

CNN website without pihole

After
CNN with pihole

In numbers (before and after):

  • Requests: 48 vs 288
  • Data: 1.73Mb vs 5.1Mb
  • Html loaded: 1.25s vs 3.7s
  • Page loaded: 3.24s vs 20s

MSN

Before

MSN without pihole

After
MSN with pihole

In numbers (before and after):

  • Requests: 172 vs 330
  • Data: 2.11Mb vs 3.15Mb
  • Html loaded: 1s vs 1.7s
  • Page loaded: 1.75s vs 15s

IMDB

Before

IMDB without pihole

After

IMDB with pihole on

In numbers (before and after):

  • Requests: 117 vs 152
  • Data: 1.48Mb vs 2.63Mb
  • Html loaded: 1.4s vs 1.6s
  • Page loaded: 5.8s vs 10.6s

Weather Channel

Before

weather channel without pihole

After
Weather.com with pihole on

In numbers (before and after):

  • Requests: 88 vs 260
  • Data: 1.19Mb vs 3Mb
  • Html loaded: 330ms vs 800ms
  • Page loaded: 1.5s vs 2.2s

Conclusion

Obviously these numbers fluctuate, especially for news websites due to their specifics - they have a lot of graphical content which is changing all the time. But given the difference of number of requests with pihole and without it's clearly seen how it could affect your browsing experience. Also, having pihole on drastically reduced spread of your digital fingerprints on the internet

If this all looks convincing setup pihole and see the difference yourself

ll product names, logos, brands, trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, trademarks and brands does not imply endorsement.

Discrimination by OS

It's hard to be in minority. I wonder how many people even thought that there is a discrimination by OS?

People who born before 1990 might remember that message from the beginning of millennium "this website requires Internet Explorer" to run. That time minority (macos, linux, bsd, solaris) had to run a virtual machine with Windows just to access some websites. No kidding.

Nobody liked it, people felt oppressed and that caused a very strong emotional feedback for Microsoft. Having no other options we managed to use internet and Windows-only focused hardware. As a Linux user I remember those conversations with macos users - we all were in the same boat. We were "pricks".

Read more

Pi-Hole and DNS-over-HTTPS using docker-compose

I'm glad that people started to think about the privacy more than ever

In this post I'll share my experience of configuring pi-hole and Cloudflare DNS-over-HTTPS on Raspberry Pi using docker-compose. Before we dig into the configuration a few words what it's all about

UPD: Post has been updated with newest version of pi-hole

Read more

Grumble: Virgin Media is hijacking DNS and has no customer service

Just recently we moved home and of course we had to look for an another Internet Service Provider. Due to coronavirus outbreak we could not install Vodafone. We had it previously and generally it was quite reliable and service was decent. Instead we stick to the only option - Virgin Media

TR;DR: If you can - avoid. It's a scum. Terrible service, low-end hardware, DNS spoofing, HTTP/s transparent proxy, website doesn't work, support agents are humiliating and threatening you.
Not convinced? Read further.

I'm going to repost my post from reddit and provide additional comments

If you're from IT you probably would be especially interested in what Virgin Media is doing with you internet traffic

Read more

Asus Zenbook UX303UA memory upgrade

I bought UX303UA Zenbook back in June 2016 for £800. It's meant to be be a temporary laptop to be used for 1-2 years max.

Although it's quite cheap it had very good spec especially for 2016: i7-6500U @ 2.5Ghz and 12Gb RAM with fair 4-6hours on single charge, just 1.2kg. It was a significant improvement from previous Zenbook with i5 and 8Gb memory. RAM is especially critical for java developers, especially for greedy Android tools.

Even now, in 2020 this spec isn't bad at all. It's still possible to get a similar device bus slightly cheaper. Having said that I was thinking to add more memory so I can continue to use laptop comfortabily. Unfortunatelly, all websites and official sources say it's impossible - the max is 8(in the slot)+4(soldered).

Read more

Installing docker-machine on Raspberry PI

One of the nicest things about docker is reproducibility and containerisation. It is possible to run multiple applications which requires different environment on the same computer and make them live happily altogether. Although Raspberry Pi has ARMv7 instructions set, we still can run docker on it - we just need different images. One would be surprised there are some official images available on docker hub.

The configuration can be very simple - literally two commands in terminal, thanks to widely available devops tools such as docker-machine and ansible. Having this setup there won't be need to login to the RPi and perform any manual configuration per service anymore. Instead, services can be configured and deployed right from your computer.

If you don't have your Rasbperry configured yet refer to previous article for the initial setup.

Read more

Setting up Raspberry Pi without Monitor

In this post we will setup and configure Rasbian for your RPi to be instantly available via local network and without screen on the linux or mac system. Those steps should be appliable to any Raspberry PI version

To start with we need a few things:

  • Raspberry PI itself
  • 8Gb+ SD Card, class 10 at least
  • Ethernet cable to connect RPi to the router
  • Downloaded Raspbian Lite zipped image

Read more

Year 2o19 wrapped

Everything I put together all updates of different aspects of the life. Year 2019 is special as it closes the decade.

This time I feel I finished the decade's race absolutely empty. There were too many emotional blips and number of personal projects didn't even see the light but it's all about reflection on results!

Read more

Project Sunset: PronounceMe

In year 2019 one of the projects I launched was PronounceMe. It's a service which automatically generates videos with pronunciation of the English words and publishes them on YouTube. For more details about the hypothesis and technical implementation check out all posts under #PronounceMe

Unfortunately, I have to shut it down due to recent changes in the YouTube monetisation policies.

Read more

Project Update: PronounceMe – implementation details

I have several post about the PronounceMe project experiments - automatic video and voice generator for English learners. If you missed previous posts please review #pronounceMe for more information about the project, ideas behind and some statistics. In this post I'd focus on the technical implementation with some diagrams and noticeable code snippets.

Read more