If you’ve done just about anything on the internet, you’ll have come across some ads. Whether it’s mobile games or apps, shopping websites or social media, digital ads are everywhere. They’re often annoying, usually interruptive and, what’s worse, they’re almost certainly tracking your browsing habits.
There are a few ways to get rid of those pesky ads, but some of them are complicated and most only deal with a particular type of ad or in a certain context. But fear not, we’ve come across a handy solution that can protect your entire network and keep it ad-free in under 20 mins! Introducing Pi Hole.
What is Pi Hole?
It can be configured to act as a DHCP server too so that it can offer more control over blocking ad-traffic to anything connected to your network (think phones, tablets, even smart TVs). As a nice bonus, your network performance will be improved because ad traffic is blocked before it’s even downloaded!
How do I set up and use Pi Hole as an ad-blocker?
Now comes the fun part: setting up your very own
- Create a virtual server with a
Pi Holesupported operating system and specification
- Run the
Pi Holeinstall scripts
Pi Holeas your DNS or DHCP server
- (Optional bonus) Block ads everywhere by combining
Pi Holewith a VPN
By choosing Bytemark as your Pi Hole host, you’ll gain:
- We offer a generous 7-day trial – try
Pi Holefor free on Bytemark Cloud.
- We offer 10TB of transfer with your server – considerably more than competitors.
- Bytemark owns its data centers and operate an information security management system (ISMS) in accordance with, and certified to, the ISO27001:2013 standard
- We’re passionate about open source and operating ethically. We’re proud of our manifesto https://www.bytemark.co.uk/company/
1. Create a virtual server
Since Pi Hole is designed to run on a Raspberry PI, you don’t need a big spec to get started. In fact, their official prerequisites documentation lists the following base level specs for a server:
- 52MB of free space
- 512MB RAM
- One of these supported operating systems
- Raspbian: Jessie / Stretch
- Ubuntu: 16.04 / 16.10
- Fedora: 27 / 28
- Debian: 8 / 9
- CentOS: 7 (not ARM)
We’re going to use Debian 9, so open Bytemark panel and deploy a new server with the standard specs, choosing Debian 9 as the operating system.
2. Run the
Pi Hole install scripts
Once the server is up and running, we need to log into the console and run the Pi Hole install scripts:
- Click the ‘Console’ button next to the server you just created. A new window should open.
- In the console, type ‘root’ as the username and enter the password that you’ll have been given when the server was created.
- Run the single curl command from the one-step automated install docs on GitHub:
curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash
- Follow the instructions, clicking OK where needed. It’s fine to accept the defaults for now – they can be changed later.
Double checkthe DHCP and IP settings and information.
The IP should be the same as the one shown in the Bytemark panel – this is important as it’s how you’ll access the admin interface later and what you’ll use across your network.
- Click OK and accept the rest of the defaults.
- Important – make a note of your admin password that
- Eventually, the installation will complete and you’ll be set back into the console.
- Close the console window.
3. Use Pi Hole as your DNS or DHCP server
Now you’ve got your shiny new Pi Hole box set up and ready to be used, the first step is to log into the admin interface and have a look around.
During the installation, you’ll have been given a specific URL to your own admin interface, but it generally looks like this:
http://[server IP address]/admin
So, in the example I tested, I was given:
Visit your admin URL and login with the password Pi Hole gave you. Take a look around and familiarise yourself with the interface and the various settings. You probably won’t need to regularly visit the admin site beyond updating the ad lists here and there or viewing reports (if you’re mad for stats).
Once you’re happy, the next step is to configure your network, router
You can change things on a device by device basis (perhaps just your work laptop or kids’ tablets) to suit your needs. At home, I’ve configured our entire network by updating our router’s DNS settings and it’s been working without a single hiccough for over a year!
4. Testing the ad blocker is working
Block ads everywhere by combining
Pi Hole with a VPN
The fun doesn’t have to end there though, oh no! If you’ve followed our recent article on setting up a VPN with Outline then you can extend your VPN’s capabilities and add your instance of Pi Hole to it, combining them both into a privacy and ad-blocking super shield!
We’d also encourage a look at the comprehensive documentation from