Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Enabling sites in NoScript is usually done on a site-by-site basis. Each webpage is different and will need to be checked individually.

I have NoScript to maybe cut down on bandwidth. On dial-up with a Mozilla browser. I can't get high speed, we're rural and don't have the money. I guess I want to know if NoScript is worth it because I never know for sure which sites to allow.

In this excerpt from Answercast #98 I look at ways to use NoScript to reducing scripting on web pages and increase browsing speed.

Enabling sites in NoScript

You know, I never really thought about NoScript as a way to cut down on bandwidth usage but in fact that is a very valid reason to use it.

When a website or a web page loads, if NoScript is not enabled, if scripting is allowed on that page, it's very possible that the page will cause additional files to be downloaded - additional files of javascript; the very thing that NoScript prevents. If NoScript is enabled (in other words if you've got NoScript preventing scripting in your browser) then many of the instructions that would cause additional files to be loaded, may not even be executed.

So that's actually pretty cool, I haven't thought of that; I like that idea.

Which sites to allow

As to which sites to allow and disallow? I've used NoScript for a really long time and the answer is not very clean. It's practical, but it's not the ideal solution:

  • If you go to a site and it's not working properly... allow it in NoScript - and see if it starts working.

Nine times out of ten that's exactly what people do. That's all they really need to do; they go to a site and they find out, for whatever reason, that site isn't working properly. Maybe they can't login; maybe the content is screwed up; maybe they can't post comments; who knows - but the point is that there's something about their first visit to a site that causes it to not work properly.

Knowing that and knowing that you're running NoScript, then you can simply say, "Okay, always allow this site," and then repeat the process. Refresh the page; see if it starts working better; chances are it will.

Continually tweak the settings

Now, this may be an iterative process. By that I mean you may need to do it more than once because web pages often include content, or information, or files from other web pages.

For example, Ask Leo! includes content from Google. So that means that the first time you visit Ask Leo! you may need to allow Ask Leo! The next time you refresh that page, it still may not be all quite there - but now you might need to allow Google.

NoScript will show you which sites it sees in the HTML that it's blocked and you can then selectively allow each one of those until the site is working to your satisfaction. That's what people do.

There isn't really a super clean solution for knowing what to do and not do with NoScript. But this concept of "just do it until it works" - enable things until the site you care about works - is the most practical, and I would claim, by far the most common approach that people take.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

End of Answercast 98 Back to - Audio Segment

Article C6356 - March 18, 2013 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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8 Comments
Ashkan
March 19, 2013 3:50 AM

I use NoScript, not to save bandwidth, but save my computer's memory and CPU, since my PC is very old and slow.

Peter McGovern
March 19, 2013 10:53 AM

I have the same question about Noscripts (I'm using the comparable program Notscriots scripts in Google Chrome). Very often I'll get to a page and something on the page, for example a video, isn't working. When I click on Notscripts sometimes I get a list of 15 different sites all that need permission to run. Many of them have a obscure names. It's sure is a witchhunt to figure out which is the script that's not running that will allow the video to play.

Gail_in_R.B.
March 19, 2013 11:55 AM

When visiting a site for the first time, I start with TEMPORARILY allowing a site - on a site-by-site basis - until the page "works". If I expect to return often, I may "ALWAYS allow...". I never allow sites like doubleclick to run. If I'm not sure about a site, I do a search on it. You can also mouse over the site name on the NoScript drop down list, then shift+click or middle click to get info about it.

A Richter
March 19, 2013 12:14 PM

NoScript is worth every penny you - voluntarily - might pay for it. It provides excellent protection against malicious scripting, and I should not run Firefox as my default browser without it.

If in a hurry, full functionality of any page can easily be achieved by simply choosing "Temporarily allow all this page" from the drop-down menu. Unless you would visit unsavory sites, this option will be just fine, without any adverse effects on your system.

Websites that are well designed (like Leo's) will work very nearly just as well with tight NoScript settings as with additional permissions. If not, there seems to be a hierarchy in the drop-down menu allowing for increased functionality. Should a feature (say, the ability to post comments) not work, start at the top and - temporarily, to be on the safe side - allow one listed item after the other until the page works as desired. Based on experience, individual permissions can then be made permanent and/or whole sites white-listed.

Too many websites nowadays let others use them as points of entry to you and your system: Why should e.g., Facebook or Twitter know what you are up to on the web if you are not even a member?
NoScript helps to eliminate these interlopers, so a little effort in setting it up properly is warranted.

Just Me
March 20, 2013 4:52 PM

I use NoScript, to save bandwidth, and save my computers from malicious scripting

Malicious JavaScript is very high up the list of malware delivery mechanisms

I also use AdBlock Plus & FlashBlock to save data usage
no ads delivered = less bytes used per page
no flash played unless clicked = less bytes used per page
= smaller monthly bill

re: when to allow with NoScript
only allow enough to make the page work
eg.
you can visit the MS page for KB913086 with Firefox & NoScript disallowing all scripts and the download links on the page still work

however, you must allow the 2 top level domains on Youtube for the videos & comments to work
youtube.com & ytimg.com

allowing scripting on sites should be taken on a case by case basis, and with system security in mind

eg.
if it's a page you've never been to before and it doesn't display anything until you allow something then leave
better to leave safely than to allow scripting only to find your system compromised


Steve
March 21, 2013 8:58 AM

I suggest using Web Of trust (WOT) along with NoScript. WOT can help you decide if a site is safe to allow via NoScript.

From the NoScript drop-down list of allowed and dis-allowed sites, middle click on a web site for an interface to WOT.

Also see www mywot com

MoreOff
April 7, 2013 3:59 PM

I noticed the comment about WOT with NoScript and wanted to mention I use Dr. Web Link Checker, NoScript, WOT and McAfee SiteAdvisor for Firefox.
First I used the Search Box to see if Leo has written anything about the Firefox Extension "Dr. Web Link Checker".
Then I looked through Leo's Full Archive page and didn't see any article with Dr. (or Doctor) Web mentioned in part of an Article Title there, so I thought I'd suggest to Firefox users to Add it to their Add-Ons section.
(I hit the F3 Key and searched the whole page for any line with " web " in it, but after not seeing Dr. Web on that page I decided to make my comment).
I like it even though Right-Clicking and selecting it and waiting for the Result screen to show up takes a bit of time.
I just thought to pass this idea along to everyone who reads Comments here on Ask-Leo.
A lot of times I've found help in the Comments below Leo's Article(s).
Thanks Leo! 73

redwolfe_98
May 7, 2013 10:42 AM

thanks, leo, for your clear and simple explanation of how to use "noscript".. :) it is that simple, you simply allow scripting for a webpage, as needed..

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