How it performed: Once installed, Disconnect treats you to a treasure-trove of information via its drop-down window. For any given page you visit, you get a summary of all the advertising, analytic, social and content requests made (and blocked) while it loads. For each of the categories you can click to reveal a list of the actual companies or sites that made those requests. It's informative and interesting, to say the least, but probably superfluous for most users.
Likewise, Disconnect's visualization view shows a nifty interactive graph of the relationships between the current site and the various trackers. It's neat, but not something you're likely to use (or need) often. Of greater use, the status window shows how much time and bandwidth you've saved by using Disconnect.
Instead of an on-off toggle, Disconnect gives you the option of "whitelisting" the site you're currently viewing, effectively permitting all the ads and other stuff — though it still keeps a running tally of all those items, which is cool. Also, you can manually allow individual sites and services, assuming you'd want to for some reason.
Bottom line: Disconnect insulates you from pretty much every site except the one you're viewing and filters out ads to boot. Even if you never bother with its pretty interface, you can take comfort knowing it's working behind the scenes.
Price: Free for basic version; $5/month for Premium version
Compatible with: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari
The only straight-up commercial product in the group, DoNotTrackMe (DNTM) takes a freemium approach to privacy: You get the basic anti-tracking features for free, while a more robust Premium subscription, which adds features such as password management, costs $5 monthly. The developer also offers apps for Android and iOS.
What it does: DoNotTrackMe's name undersells its capabilities, as this plug-in not only blocks ads and trackers, but also provides basic password management and aliases (or "masks") for email addresses, phone numbers and credit card numbers. (These last two options require DNTM Premium.)
How it performed: More features can mean more complexity, and DNTM has the steepest learning curve of any of the tools in the group. But it's worth the effort.
For starters, you must register for an account, even for something as basic as accessing the status menu in your browser's toolbar. Once you do, you're presented with four basic options: Accounts (the password/auto log-in manager), Wallet (storage of credit/debit card info), Masking (creation of aliases of personal info) and Tracking (or, rather, tracker blocking). This last is obvious enough, but the other features require a bit of exploring — and probably some visits to the online help guides.
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