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

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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