Something I should’ve done a long time ago: Installing Pi-hole

Spent some quality Sunday time today refurbishing some older mini PCs that had been gathering dust so I could run a few personal projects. One of the projects I’ve had on my to-do list an embarrassingly long time is to set up Pi-hole for ad blocking / filtering. If I’d known it’d be that easy I’d have done it a long time ago!

I installed Pi-hole on an ancient Core i3 NUC with 8GB of RAM running Debian. It took about two minutes, five if you count reading some documentation and maybe seven minutes if you count logging into the admin interface and quickly setting my laptop and phone to use Pi-hole for testing.

One of the most ad-infested sites that I visit is Imgur. Its app has become nearly unusable due to its ads, and I can literally feel my phone get warmer when browsing the app. After pointing my phone at Pi-hole instead, it’s much more usable. Still a bit of a battery hog, but not nearly as bad as it was prior to setting up Pi-hole.

Looking over the very early stats, I’m seeing about 38% of the queries blocked. 38%! And that’s just using the default block list. I haven’t researched any of the other adlists or made any real customizations yet. The next step is setting it up so all the systems on my home network use pi-hole for DNS, including devices like the Roku.

It’ll be interesting to see how things compare after a week or so of usage, especially after pointing my laptop at the Pi-hole during work hours. That should give a slightly more balanced picture. At least I certainly hope the various sites I need to visit during work hours won’t be rife with calls to sketchy ad networks.

If you’re using Pi-hole and you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear tales of caution or victory with specific ad lists or things to avoid. If you haven’t set up a Pi-hole for home use, it’s simple enough that I can do it – so what are you waiting for?


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