PeerBlock is a free software for Windows that aims to block connections to select servers on the Internet by default to improve a user's privacy and security.
It is a list-based software much like those that ad blockers use, but with the difference that you can block corporations, governments, or the media industry using it. Unlike browser extensions, it blocks traffic on the whole system though.
It is based on PeerGuardian code, and considered to be the official successor of the application for the Windows platform. PeerGuardian itself is still developed actively for Linux.
The PeerBlock project went dark about two years ago and it was not really clear if the project was still alive or not.
PeerBlock Beta r677
While there were signs that it was not completely abandoned, occasional blog posts for instance, no new version of the program was released by the developers in that time.
This changed a couple of days ago when beta version r677 of PeerBlock 1.1 was released to the official site. The release highlights the development is still ongoing. The application itself made a big jump from the last beta release, r484 to this one introducing several major changes and improvements to it in the process.
- The Port Settings page enables you to unblock ports that you want to allow. This can be very useful if you notice that connections to select ports are blocked while you need to use them. Several default ports (80,443 for web traffic, 21 for FTP, 25 for SMTP and 110 for POP3) are displayed directly, and you can add other ports manually using the add dialog.
- Settings are now displayed in tabs in the main interface, instead of on a single page with next and prev buttons.
- Users with I-Blocklist subscriptions can add their username and pin under Settings 1 now to integrate the service directly into PeerBlock.
- Error messages and handling has been improved in regards to I-Blocklist (which hosts the majority of lists that people use according to the developers).
- Windows 2000 support has been removed.
- Official support for Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.
A wizard walks you through the initial configuration. You can subscribe to one or multiple lists -- P2P, Ads, Spyware and Educational are available, as well as options to import existing lists --and configure the app to allow http traffic through all the time. Additional lists can be downloaded from I-Blocklist for example.
You are then asked to define how often you want the program to check for updates, and whether you want that to include the program and the lists you are subscribed to, or only one of them.
Once you are done, the program will start to work silently in the background for the most part. You can monitor what is being blocked though in the main interface, and may need to open the application occasionally if you notice that something is not working right anymore after installation of PeerBlock.
It is good to see that PeerBlock is still being developed actively. The release of a new beta version gives hope that the developers will update the stable version of PeerBlock in the near future as well.