A look at Microsoft Edge's Tracking Prevention feature

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 28, 2019
Internet, Microsoft Edge

Microsoft just added a new feature called Tracking Prevention to the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser; reason enough to take a look at it to find out what it does.

Tracking Prevention is only available in the latest Microsoft Edge Canary version at the time of writing. The feature is not enabled by default; in fact, it is hidden behind an experimental flag currently. All of this will change when the first final version of the new Microsoft Edge browser is released.

Before we look at the feature in detail, it is necessary to describe what it does. Microsoft describes Tracking Prevention in Edge in the following way:

Websites use trackers (like cookies and scripts) to collect info about how you use their sites and show you content like relevant ads. But some trackers collect and send your info to sites you haven’t visited. Microsoft Edge helps you control trackers.

The wording may sound familiar to Firefox users as it is pretty close to what Tracking Protection used to offer initially in Mozilla's web browser.

Tracking Prevention configuration

microsoft edge tracking protection

Tracking Prevention comes with three different presets that users may switch between.

  • Basic -- Blocks malicious trackers but allows those that show you relevant ads
  • Balanced (recommended) -- Blocks malicious trackers and some third-party trackers. You’ll see less relevant ads.
  • Strict -- Blocks the majority of third-party trackers, some sites might break

The default level is balanced. Edge users may switch levels on edge://settings/privacy in the browser's Settings. An option to turn off the feature for specific sites is provided as well on the page.

The changes that you make on the page apply instantly, a restart is not required. You do need to reload tabs, however.

The Tracking Prevention flag

tracking prevention

Tracking Prevention is not available by default right now. Edge users need to enable an experimental flag first before it becomes available.

  1. Load edge://flags/#edge-tracking-prevention
  2. Set the flag to Enabled.
  3. Restart the browser.

Once restarted, Edge displays the new Tracking Prevention options under Privacy in the Settings.

How effective is it?

Tracking Prevention, just like Mozilla's Tracking Protection feature, is not an ad-blocker. While the feature may block some ad units when enabled, it is not as effective as full-blown content blockers such as uBlock Origin.

I ran a quick test on some sites, Ghacks and YouTube in particular, to find out what Balanced and Strict modes in Edge would do.

Advertisement was displayed in Balanced mode on Ghacks but the units were blocked when I switched to Strict mode. YouTube continued to display advertisement regardless of the level I set Tracking Prevention to.

Closing Words

Tracking Prevention blocks some tracker connections and it may reduce the impact of tracking on the Internet while the feature is active but just like Firefox's Tracking Protection, it does take care of just one side of the medal when it comes to problems associated with advertisement on today's Internet.

Taking care of tracking is a step in the right direction but as long as advertising companies such as Google don't address other advertising-related issues such as malvertising campaigns, it is not effective enough.

Edge users may install Edge-exclusive extensions and also extensions for Google Chrome.

Now You: What would have to happen before you'd relinquish content blockers?

A look at Microsoft Edge's Tracking Prevention feature
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A look at Microsoft Edge's Tracking Prevention feature
Microsoft just added a new feature called Tracking Prevention to the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser; reason enough to take a look at it to find out what it does.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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