How to use the new Vivaldi tracking feature

The latest release of the Vivaldi web browser includes one of the easiest to use tracker blockers on the market.

How to use the new Vivaldi tracking feature

Vivaldi is one of the best web browsers you've never heard of. It's a browser perfectly suited for those who either want their tools to just work out of the box or for those who want to do serious customization. No matter what type of user you are, Vivaldi offers features that appeal to everyone.

With the release of version 3, Vivaldi now comes with a new tracking system that prevents anyone from tracking you as you navigate the web. The third iteration of this outstanding browser ads a built-in tracker- and ad-blocker that you can set to:

  • No Blocking (default)

  • Block Trackers

  • Block Trackers And Ads

You can change the settings on the fly, on a per-site basis and add exceptions in case you have certain sites that will not function properly with either Tracking or Ad Blocking enabled.

I want to show you how to use this new feature. In the end, you'll find anyone, regardless of skill-level, can take advantage of the added privacy offered in Vivaldi's latest release.

SEE: Windows 10 security: A guide for business leaders (TechRepublic Premium)

What you'll need

The only thing you'll need to use this new feature is the latest release of Vivaldi (3.0.1874). You can get that version from the Vivaldi download page

How to change the default tracking behavior

The first thing we'll do is set the default tracking behavior. Out of the box, tracking is disabled. There are two ways of approaching this:

  • Enable Tracking and disable it on a site-by-site basis, when you find sites that don't function properly with Tracking enabled.

  • Disable Tracking and enable it on a site-by-site basis.

The most logical approach is to enable tracking and then disable it on a site-by-site basis, when you find a site that doesn't function properly with tracking disabled. We'll go with that method.

To change the default tracking behavior, click the shield icon to the left of the address bar (Figure A).

Figure A


The Tracking icon in the Vivaldi address bar.

From the resulting popup, click Manage Default Settings. This will open the Settings window to the Privacy section (Figure B).

Figure B


The Vivaldi Privacy settings window. 

Click either Block Trackers or Block Trackers And Ads. This will set the default policy for the browser. Close that window and go back to the browser. You should now see that your choice has been set as the default (Figure C).

Figure C


The new tracking policy has been set.

How to change the tracking behavior on the fly

Now that we've set our default, we can change tracking on the fly, on a site-by-site basis. Go to a site you know doesn't function properly with tracking enabled. Click the Tracking shield and you'll see that site listed in the popup (Figure D).

Figure D


Facebook without tracking or ads.

What if that site isn't working properly? You could first change the policy to Block Trackers and see if that fixes the problem. If that doesn't fix the problem, disable tracking altogether and see if the site returns to normal functionality. Either way, you'll have to do a bit of experimenting to get this just right for certain websites.

How to managing tracking sources

By default, Vivaldi's blocked trackers are sourced from DuckDuckGo Tracker Radar, which blocks most of the known trackers. Daniel Davis, communications manager of DuckDuckGo explains their approach:

"Rather than being just a blocklist, DuckDuckGo Tracker Radar is actually a data set that can be used to compile powerful blocklists, such as that used in this new Vivaldi release, as well as form a foundation for research of trackers to discover new techniques and promote broader understanding. The data set is continually updated by crawling top websites looking for various factors such as usage of resources in a third-party context, cookie-setting behavior, usage of browser APIs, and the likelihood of those APIs being used to identify users (fingerprinting). We've made the Tracker Radar data set and the code that generates it openly available, and we're delighted Vivaldi is using this technology to provide effective tracker protection for its users."

You can add Blocking Sources by clicking Manage Sources and then selecting from the list of Ad Blocking and Tracker Blocking sources (Figure E). Unless you have a good reason to do so, I'd leave the list as is, otherwise you might find Vivaldi slows down or other issues might arise.

Figure E


Adding other Tracking and Ad Blocking sources in Vivaldi.

How to manage exceptions

As you change sites on the fly, removing them from Tracking, you'll find they are added to the Exceptions window in Settings | Privacy (Figure F).

Figure F


The Vivaldi Tracking Exceptions window.

If you need to remove a site from the Exceptions list, select the site and then click - at the bottom of the window. If you need to add a site, click + and when prompted, type the URL of the site to be included (Figure G).

Figure G


Manually adding a Tracking exception to Vivaldi.

When you add an exception manually, you can choose how that exception is to be treated. You can select from the same options that you'll find in the on-the-fly feature: No Blocking, Block Tracking, Block Tracking and Ad.

And that's all there is to using the new Tracking feature in Vivaldi 3. It's as reliable as any other similar feature in competing browsers, while making it considerably easier to manage the Tracking functionality on the fly. Anyone that sees privacy as a crucial component of web browser usage, will find Vivaldi's take on Tracking a breath of fresh (and private) air.

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Image: Jack Wallen

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....