HellBoy Firewall is a powerful but lightweight adblocker for Firefox

Firefox users can select between several advertisement and script blockers for the web browser. From heavyweights such as AdBlock Plus (which has been heavily criticized recently for its business practices) to the powerful script blocker NoScript.  Most ad-blockers are large in size and resource intensive at times, which can be especially problematic if you are running Firefox on a system that is not blessed with lots of RAM or processing power.

HellBoy Firewall, despite the name that suggests otherwise, is an ad-blocker for Firefox. What sets it apart from established extensions is the fact that it is as lightweight as an adblocker can possible get without sacrificing any of the blocking itself.

The extension has a size of only 30 Kilobytes for example while popular ad blockers for Firefox often cross the 700 Kilobyte mark easily. The core reason here is that the developer has created the extension with performance in mind.

That's great as it is using less memory when it is enabled in the browser and may also be a bit faster in terms of page loading times. Instead of relying on a large domain and IP address block list, the extension has been designed to use five hard coded blocking rules covering more than 7000 .com and .net domains taken from Easylist. So, instead of having to go through thousands of items to check, it is only checking five items in total.

How that works out? Quite well apparently. A quick test on several ad-heavy websites showed no advertisement at all on those sites. While I cannot guarantee that it will cover all ads that you may encounter on your journeys on the Internet, it seems to cover major ad providers and domain, and takes care of them.

hellboy firewall adblocker

There is a downside to that though, which you will notice eventually. The extension ships without preferences or an interface. The only thing that it adds to the system after installation is a button that it places in the browser's main toolbar. You can use the button to turn the functionality on or off.

A lack of options, whitelisting for example or adding additional domains or servers to the block list, is certainly a no-go for some users of the web browser who want more control over the ad blocking process.

Other users may even prefer to use it this way, as they do not have to configure anything at all. While they may run into websites where ads are still displayed, it is something that they may not mind that much.

Webmasters on the other hand may not like the approach at all, as it does not give users a choice whether to enable or disable the extension on their properties. While it is possible to turn the extension off when a respected or favored site is visited, it is unlikely that many users of the extension will do so as it is to much work to turn it on and off all the time.

Verdict

If Adblock Plus or the ad blocker that you are using is bringing your computer to its knees performance-wise, you may want to give HellBoy Firewall a try to see if it resolves the performance issue for you without sacrificing the ad-blocking too much.

Update: The add-on disappeared from the Add-ons repository shortly after the review went online. The author appears to have relaunched it as BluHell Firewall. You can download the new version right from the website again.

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Responses to HellBoy Firewall is a powerful but lightweight adblocker for Firefox

  1. Karl J. Gephart July 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    I have been using and LOVING this add-on, Martin! Kicked ABP to the curb! The resources saved are like installing Firefox afresh! I was not happy for a long time that About:memory-addons told me that ABP was using an average memory amount roughly equivalent to having an additional 15-30 add-ons installed! There's very little Hellboy misses - and for the saved resources, I highly recommend it!

  2. Cattleya July 3, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    I think SimpleBlock add-on and SilentBlock is the best ad blocker for Firefox, but I prefer SimpleBlock than SilentBlock because it support both regex and non-regex block method, SilentBlock only support RegEx.

    And HellBoy Firewall may not fast as you think, it use 5 RegEx rule, but RegEx is just multiple line of non-regex rule, so not faster at all, just shorten the code.

    You can see HellBoy Firewall rule by open Firefox profile, open extension folder, rename {6BB5760D-F97E-421B-AF5B-8457A90C3CED}.xpi to {6BB5760D-F97E-421B-AF5B-8457A90C3CED}.zip and extract, open bootstrap.js with Notepad, Ctrl + F to search, search for "let DOMAINS = [" without quote, you see HellBoy Firewall block content using 5 line of RegEx rule.

    The fastest way to block ad is use this optimized rule from [email protected]: http://my.opera.com/Tamil/blog/ad-block
    Very fast, just use Notepad to remove all wildcard "*" with search and replace and use it with SimpleBlock.

    SimpleBlock is only 6.1KB file size, because it's not contain any blocking rule inside.

    • Cattleya July 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

      @LeslieM:

      >Thanks Cattleya for following up - that link worked. So do I also need to add these to the start of the simpleblock.ini file or somewhere else.

      >Already FF is loading pages like 5 or 6 times faster and what has been happening for a while is that some pages were not loading until I did a refresh. Switching to simpleblock appears to have made these problems go away. Loving it !!

      Hi LeslieM, yes, if you want to use HellBoy Firewall rule with simple block then copy this hastebin ( http://hastebin.com/raw/toyesadeki ) to SimpleBlock.ini, but it use a big RegEx rule, RegEx never faster than binary rule like, you can use my optimized rule, it is fast but miss some unpopular ad, only unpolular ad missed.

      Here it is: http://pastebin.com/vfJgG0wr

  3. Kneyfield July 4, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    Interesting extension and comments. Thanks to Cattleya for information about the most efficient ad-blocking method and Karl J. Gephart for the AdBlock Plus memory issues.

    Personally, I don't feel much of a drag due to the extensions, that clean up my webpages. I run Ghostery, AdBlock Plus (or Edge, doesn't matter), Greasemonkey and Stylish. That sounds like a lot - and certainly too much for many systems - but it allows me the maximum customization any browser can have. With my current set-up (4GHz Intel CPU, 14GB RAM, 2GB RAM-Disk for the browser-cache, programs and profile folder on an SSD) I don't notice much of a performance lag.

    • Cattleya July 4, 2013 at 3:05 am #

      Hi Kneyfield, glad that you interest about my post :D
      Here is my filter list for SimpleBlock, I used it for years and seem work very well without problem, it is very short, so it's fast and really make webpage load faster.

      Here it is: http://pastebin.com/vfJgG0wr

      I can see the big different between 5 RegEx rules of HellBoy Firewall and my adblock rule, when I use HellBoy Firewall or 5 RegEx rules of HellBoy Firewall with SimpleBlock, loading speed is significantly slower than my adblock rule.

      Here is 5 rules RegEx for SimpleBlock: http://pastebin.com/vT06EkYy

      And I forgot to inculde download link of SimpleBlock and SilentBlock in my above post:
      SimpleBlock: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/simpleblock/?src=search
      SilentBlock: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/silentblock/?src=search

      For SimpleBlock:
      Open Firefox Profile, F6 -> about:support -> Open Folder to open Firefox profile folder.
      Create a file named SimpleBlock.ini, open this file with Notepad and paste my adblock rule, save this file.

      In Firefox, right-click to SimpleBlock icon in in add-on bar -> Reload blocklist.

      • LeslieM July 4, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

        >> http://pastebin.com/vT06EkYy
        This gives Unknown Paste ID.

        I am a bit confused about what to place in the simpleblock.ini - what is the section name and item ID's for this file.

        I cannot find this information out anywhere, unless this really is not an ini file but rather a txt file which the developer has stupidly given a .ini extension - if so then all I can say he needs to get with the program and follow standards.

        What I have done for the moment is use the entries you kindly made available here: http://pastebin.com/vfJgG0wr and simply pasted them into the file (it goes against the grain to do it for a ini file I must say).

        Lastly how do I see a list of what simpleblock has actually loaded - it would be great to verify it is actually reading the file. Is there a test page I can go to to make sure it is working.

        But if it is then already my pages are loading significantly faster than with Adblock, so thanks for the info..

      • Cattleya July 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

        I don't know why my pastedbin link get deleted, here is a new link:
        http://hastebin.com/raw/toyesadeki

        Yes, SimpleBlock.ini file store adblock rules, simply create a blank file named SimpleBlock.ini and paste my adblock rules to it, save and Reload blocklist. That is all.

        Note: My optimized adblock rule may miss some ad, because it only block popular ad provider and popular ad keyword like: "adbanner, _ad.js, 120x240, 120x600, 120x90, 160x600, 234x60, 336x280, 468x60, 728x90..."

      • LeslieM July 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

        > I don't know why my pastedbin link get deleted, here is a new link:
        > http://hastebin.com/raw/toyesadeki

        Thanks Cattleya for following up - that link worked. So do I also need to add these to the start of the simpleblock.ini file or somewhere else.

        Already FF is loading pages like 5 or 6 times faster and what has been happening for a while is that some pages were not loading until I did a refresh. Switching to simpleblock appears to have made these problems go away. Loving it !!

  4. Transcontinental July 4, 2013 at 2:13 am #

    Depending on the filters AdBlock Plus can do much more than halting ads, it can handle privacy and malware intrusions as well.

    Concerning speed, I've tried HellBoy but, and on heavy sites, moreover on non-US ones, the rendering is much slower than with AdBlock Plus. The only issue here is on Firefox start, slower of course especially with many filters, there is always a counter-part.

    Concerning CPU, no problem with AdBlock Plus. As for RAM, I use a RAM optimizer (I know, many "optimizers" are craps and an idea is that RAM optimization is a joke), nevertheless "CleanMem" works very well here.

    I have an old Duron 1.6Ghz and 1GB RAM, Firefox 22 with AdBlock Plus employing 8 filters (thorough testing, no total redundancies, but anyway ABP does not add redundancies, it integrates), and after having tried several scenarios, including "Ad Muncher", here the best overall efficiency remains AdBlock Plus. The time gained by halting unnecessary loading elements largely compensates the space required.

    There are fashions on the Web, and myths all around. Forgetting demagogy and testing objectively is a good approach.

  5. Stavros July 4, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Thank you Martin, that was one Hell of a tip. It's a great addon and great comments for all alternatives. ;)

    However, mr. Transcontinental, AdBlock does not block malwares (!!) or privacy by using any magic filter and its memory footprint 60-70MB is HUGE comparing to some 50-70 KB of hellboy firewall or simpleblock. It's only a list of regex'ed & blocked urls for god's sake and that's my 2 cents of demagogy :p

  6. mike1354 July 4, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    HAD AD BLOCK PLUS FOR A LONG TIME
    GAVE HELLBOY A TRY ...CANT BELIEVE THE DIFFERENCE IN BROWSER SPEED AS WELL AS MEMORY USAGE ...
    AD BLOCK IS A PIG COMPARED TO HELLBOY
    AS WELL BLOCKS ALL I NEED BLOCKED
    NO LOOKING BACK NOW
    HELLBOY STAYS ..............

    GREAT!

  7. Troy janda July 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    I uninstalled and installed the Hellboy Firewall and restarted my browser. initially it proved much quicker did in fact block ads but once the browser refresh button is clicked and the web site is reloaded the ads are back. Not good at all! Also it does not remove the ad box left behind once the ad is blocked. I have checked it in Ubuntu and Windows 7 using Firefox 22.0. I removed it and returned to Adblock+

    no stars need a bunch of work and a few features like white listing and element hiding would be nice. Maybe even the ability to subscribe to other lists since Fanboy's list is become merged with Easylist and no longer updated or maintained.

    • Anonymous July 5, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      Restarting is not necessary after installing

  8. blue_bsod July 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    It depends on what you expect out of an Ad blocker and how much control you'd like. For those who want to install and walk away, this may be an alternative for you. But for those of use who want to control every aspect of our experience online (guilty) we edit, tweak, and add scripts to our Adblocker Plus + Element hider for Adblocker plus to fully customize our experience.

    The element hider allows us to block an individual component of a web page that our subscription can't catch, or if the item isn't an ad. Example: one of my sites loads in unnecessary page content which only slows down the loading process. Extra pictures and other annoying junk which aren't ads so are blocked can now be blocked if I choose to block those components from loading: ie: animated files, media files (audio/video), and more...

    Sure it's a resource hog but that is the price we pay for absolute control. Hellboy gives no control and expects us to use "as-is", and like you said, "no whitelist ability"...

  9. Karl J. Gephart July 4, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    I agree with the last comment about control; it's all in what you need Firefox for. I'm into web design, social media, and various other productivity add-ons. I have around 60 add-ons, plus 10 Stylish scripts I wrote myself to CSS webpages that are important to me. I keep few tabs open out of habit and bookmark everything in layers of drop-down folders. For me, I can't have an add-blocker that, according to about: add-ons-memory, consumes half as much memory as Firefox itself does. For those who need control, I respect that. For those of us who will look at a few ads for a functional browser with tools that greatly speed up our everyday work, so be it.

  10. lookmaan July 5, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Oh! that was fantastic Martin!

    In my pc, FF memory usage reduced by 8%

    Finding it was easy as it is prominently seen in 'upcoming addons'.

    This will be one of the best addons of the year.

  11. Ray July 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    I'm using Silent Block on Thunderbird as it's lightweight and I don't need a bloated ad block solution just for email.

    All I need is the ability to block the tracking images on the few emails I allow through, which is great.

    I would try SimpleBlock on Thunderbird if it was compatible.

  12. Pierre July 10, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Hellboy was removed from Mozilla add-ons site
    That's right Adblock Plus takes memory but in modern machines it's no really matter

    • bob July 11, 2013 at 2:20 am #

      Just went to install Hellboy on a different box and it's gone! Wow. I really liked it. I'm going to see if I can get the xpi off my other computer and just manually install it. What happened?

      • Pierre July 11, 2013 at 3:56 am #

        It doesn't block everything : for instance Gmail pubs

  13. Paul July 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    I had this installed to try it out but realized it blocked everything from Foxnews, which is ridiculous.

    So I went to it's page only to find it's been removed from the addons page.

    Anyone know why?

    I really disliked the lack of ability to control what we could and could not block.

    • Martin Brinkmann July 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      It is not clear why it was removed.

      • p3t3r September 2, 2013 at 10:23 am #

        Maybe "Hellboy" is a name or brand registered by Marvel Comix? Just guessing...

  14. Mark July 13, 2013 at 1:57 am #

    FYI: The name was just changed to Bluhell Firewall.

    • Martin Brinkmann July 13, 2013 at 2:04 am #

      Thanks, I have added the new link and information to the article.

  15. Compuitguy July 13, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    it is now Bluhell Firewall

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/bluhell-firewall/

    • Pierre July 13, 2013 at 2:19 am #

      Thks for the info
      Yes, it tooks 0% memory instead of 50%
      But it doesn't block gmail adds (as Chrome Adblock plus)

      It's doen't suppress the ads cleanly : it replaces them by blank squares

  16. phyztest April 10, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    these ideas are pretty great, though i dont understand why there isnt a simple way to do this system wide as opposed to having to install the same addon for each application that generates ads, tracking and are also liteweight(LOW RAM AND CPU usage)..... but then maybe i am the only one who uses MORE THAN ONE program that needs this kind of help.

  17. Anders April 22, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    If anyone is still looking for the Simpleblock addon, it was removed/blocked from the Mozilla add-ons site because of a DMCA request related to the icon! Yes, some company (Eyeo GmbH, same as ABP?) believe they own the trademark on the generic stop-sign design.

    I have made a new (from scratch) clone of my plugin and it is now restartless and smaller than before but I don't know if I'm going to release it because I don't want to deal with the politics and legal issues.

    The old plugin was licensed under the GPL so I'm sure those that still want it can find a copy but it is not as nice as it used to be because the idiots at Mozilla removed the statusbar and made it really hard to add toolbar buttons in restartless addons. When Mozilla started their UI changes and moved to the rapid release cycle I just lost all respect and trust in Firefox so I stopped all addon development which is why SimpleBlock never updated it's UI to something other than a statusbar icon based design.

    On a personal note, I have been using IE a bit more in the last few years and if you turn on ActiveX filtering (it even has per site options) and use tracking protection lists you actually get a pretty good experience. Imagine that, MS has the best out of the box filtering and blocking support. They have screwed that up with Spartan but all of Win10 is a disaster so that is no big surprise.

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