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Support Center / Setup and use / How to use NetShield Ad-blocker

How to use NetShield Ad-blocker

NetShield Ad-blocker is a feature that protects your device and speeds up your browsing by blocking ads, trackers, and malware. When enabled, it offers you two levels of protection:

  • The first level prevents your browser from loading resources from domains that host malware, spyware, or other malicious software. Malware protection is on by default.
  • The second level blocks ads and the online trackers that adtech companies use to target you in addition to malware.

If you want to use NetShield to block ads and have a faster and more private browsing experience, upgrade to a Proton VPN Plus or Visionary plan.

Upgrade

How NetShield Ad-blocker protects you

Proton VPN has dedicated DNS servers that are active on each Proton VPN server you connect to and responsible for resolving all the domain requests for every resource (image, scripts, ads, etc.) for every website you visit and app you use. When you are connected to Proton VPN, your DNS requests are encrypted to prevent DNS leaks from exposing your browsing history.

Learn more about DNS leaks.

When you enable NetShield Ad-blocker, the DNS server will check these domains against databases of domains known to host malware, ads, or trackers. If any of the domains match, our DNS server will automatically block that resource from loading, keeping your device clean and speeding up your browsing.

NetShield Ad-blocker offers three levels of protection:

  • Don’t block
    This means that NetShield is not active.
  • Block malware only
    This prevents your browser from loading resources from domains that host malware, spyware, or other malicious software. Malware protection is enabled by default.
  • Block malware, ads, & trackers
    This blocks malware as well as ads and the online trackers that advertisement companies use to target you.

Note: If you change your NetShield settings while you are connected to a VPN server, the VPN will need to disconnect and reconnect before your new settings are implemented.

How to use NetShield Ad-blocker on Windows, macOS, and Linux devices

You can control your NetShield protection level by clicking on the shield icon on the Proton VPN app home screen.

A screenshot of the NetShield option in the Windows and macOS apps.

You can select the level of protection you like by clicking

  • Don’t block
  • Block malware only (default)
  • Block malware, ads, & trackers

A screenshot of the NetShield menu in the Windows and macOS app.

If you are already connected to a VPN server but change your NetShield Ad-blocker settings, your connection will be reestablished. During this reconnection, Proton VPN will automatically enable Kill Switch (even if you had turned it off previously) to prevent DNS leaks.

How to use NetShield Ad-blocker on Android devices

You can set your NetShield preferences by tapping Settings in the app menu. That will bring up the screen below:

A screenshot of the NetShield options in the Settings menu on the Android app.

By tapping the toggle switch on the right, you can turn NetShield Ad-blocker on or off. Once it is turned on, you can choose between two levels of protection:

  • Block malware only (default)
  • Block malware, ads, & trackers

You can also adjust NetShield Ad-blocker once you have set up your VPN connection. Once you have connected to a VPN server, the NetShield toggle switch will be the first option below the Connected to [your VPN server here] line. (In the example below, the user is connected to a VPN server in the United States.)

A screenshot of the VPN connection screen in the Android app.

If you tap the toggle switch to turn NetShield Ad-blocker on, you will see a drop-down menu that lets you choose what level of protection you want for your current VPN connection.

A screenshot of the NetShield feature turned on in the Android app.

If you adjust your NetShield Ad-blocker settings while connected to a VPN server, the Proton VPN app will ask your permission before it disconnects and reconnects.

A screenshot of the reconnect option for NetShield.

Tap Reconnect to restart your VPN connection and implement your new NetShield settings.
Tap Cancel to maintain your current VPN connection and NetShield settings.

Note: If you have enabled the Android Private DNS feature in Android 10+, this takes precedence over Proton VPN NetShield. If you want to use NetShield, please ensure Private DNS is set to Off or Automatic.

How to use NetShield Ad-Blocker on iOS devices

You can set your NetShield Ad-blocker preferences by tapping the Settings button in the bottom corner. That will bring up the screen below:

A screenshot of the NetShield option in the Settings menu on the iOS app.

Tap NetShield. The app will take you to another screen where you can choose which level of protection you would like:

  • Off
  • Block malware only (default)
  • Block malware, ads, & trackers

A screenshot of NetShield settings.

You can also adjust NetShield Ad-blocker after you have set up your VPN connection. Once you have connected to a VPN server, your connection screen will show what level of NetShield protection you are currently using.

A screenshot of iOS app after you connect to a VPN server.

If you adjust NetShield Ad-blocker while you are connected, the Proton VPN app will ask your permission before it disconnects and reconnects.

A screenshot of the iOS app asking to reconnect after you adjust the NetShield. settings.

Tap Continue to restart your VPN connection and implement your new NetShield settings.
Tap Cancel to maintain your current VPN connection and NetShield settings.

How to use NetShield Ad-blocker on Linux CLI

If you are using our Linux app with graphical user interface, the instructions are identical to other desktop platforms, as described above. Linux CLI users can choose between three levels of NetShield protection:

  • Off
  • Block malware only (default)
  • Block malware, ads, & trackers

To turn NetShield off, you can use the command

protonvpn-cli netshield --off

or

protonvpn-cli ns --off

To block malware only, use the command

protonvpn-cli netshield --malware

or

protonvpn-cli ns --malware

To block malware, ads, and trackers, use the command

protonvpn-cli netshield --ads-malware

or

protonvpn-cli ns --ads-malware

NetShield Ad-blocker and Tor over VPN

When using Tor over VPN, DNS queries are handled by whatever DNS services the individual Tor nodes use, not by Proton. This means NetShield Ad-blocker does not work when using Tor over VPN.


Post Comment

4 comments

  1. kevin

    Hi I have a vpn plus account and netshield is not showing up. I updated the app and restarted my computer to see if it would show up.
    Thank you

  2. Douglas Crawford

    Hi kevin. Please contact our Support Team for assistance.

  3. Marco

    Is this feature available now? Bc I have Protonvpn client v2.6 on Android and Protonvpn-cli on Linux v2.2.6 and I dont have that options

  4. Douglas Crawford

    Hi Marco. The latest version of our Android app is v2.6.4.2. Please update to this version. ProtonVPN v2.x for Linux is our older community-based Linux client. NetShield is only available on our new official Linux app and CLI (which starts at version 3.x). Please uninstall the community app and then install the official app. Full instructions for doing all of this are available for your disto on our Linux setup page. (Note: this answer has been amended for accuracy).

Comments are closed.

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