Friday, 9 December 2011

How to Remove Ads From the New Xbox Dashboard

The new Xbox dashboard rolled out a couple of days ago. With it came added Kinect functionality but also a whole lot of advertising all over the place. To those who pay money for Xbox live, this increase in ad space may seem like a bit much. Well it seems you can rest assured.

Users over on Reddit have come up with a way to block all the adverts that appear on the new dashboard. The directions are a bit complicated, but it sure as hell cleans up the dashboard of stuff. It seems that Microsoft just pipes all their advertising through rad.msn.com so blocking it at some sort of level completely eliminates the ads.

  • Sign up for an OpenDNS account (it's free).
  • Add a network for your current IP address.
  • Go to Advanced Settings and next to 'Domain Typos', check the box 'Enable typo correction' if it's not already checked and apply.
  • Go to Web Content Filtering settings and set the filtering level to 'None', and under 'Manage individual domains', put rad.msn.com and select 'Always block' and then click 'Add domain'. Screenshot.
  • On your Xbox, go to System Settings -> Network Settings -> (your connection) -> Configure Network -> DNS settings -> Manual, and enter the OpenDNS IP addresses for the primary and secondary DNS servers: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220.
  • You may need to clear your hard drive cache before ads disappear entirely: System Settings -> Storage -> Hard Drive -> press Y -> Clear System Cache (note that you'll have to re-download any title updates for any games you play after doing this).
  • No longer pay to be advertised to.

You may also wish to configure your router to use OpenDNS' DNS servers via a static DNS setting, instead of setting it up on your Xbox. Doing so will block the ads for any device that connects to your network - so you don't have to configure them one-by-one.

One other note: If your IP address changes, you will need to update your OpenDNS network to match. If that happens frequently, you probably want the OpenDNS updater.

Alternatively, your may find it easier to configure your router to block the domain by using its site blocking or website filtering options. It has been reported to work for DD-WRT and Netgear routers, but not Linksys and possibly others, so your results may vary. To test if it will be blocked successfully, try to load https://rad.msn.com/. If the page fails to load, gives you a 404 error, or you get a security error (like this), then it's blocked. If you getthis 403 error, it's not blocked."

While it's hard to do, I think it's great that it's possible to do this. I think it's pretty bad that Microsoft expects people to pay £40 a year for a service that isn't that much better than what Sony provides for free. Advertising it what I expect to be the first thing to go if you pay a subscription. Many websites offer this but somehow Xbox live gets given a free pass by people to just sell crap to us. Sad thing is that Microsoft will endeavor to find a way around this.

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