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Your BEST place on-line for FREE Hosts File information, our FREE Hosts File utilities, and links to the best internet Hosts File resources! Protect your computer and Protect your family.

Sitting inside your computer is the power to block sites, survive the end days, and lock your system down tighter than a White House press conference - and no third party software is needed. It can block harmful ads, banner sites, web bugs, hi-jackers, and a variety of spyware. In addition to helping protect you, it can also increase your internet browsing speed. So easy & so free. Are you game? It's FREE, it comes with your computer, and it's called a Hosts File. Your Hosts File may now be empty & useless. We'll show you HOW to put it to work as it was originally intended!

Note: When people first ask: "What is a Hosts File?" They're usually told that: "The Hosts File has a list of all the bad things on the Internet." At one time this was true, when Microsoft created this file, only bad sites were blocked. Be aware that now, if you use a Hosts File "as is," you may not see the good sites anymore. Major search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo, and others, are now blocked. Each "freebie" below comes with an agenda. The prevailing attitude of most is that ANY sort of advertisement is bad, even if they help you find something. Web sites displaying an ad or ads are put in the same category as pornography. Click here to see: "On-Line Hosts Files: Are They Protection Or Censorship?" before you unknowingly accept someone else's word about what is good and what is bad for you.

Hosts File Tutorial

What a Hosts file is...
Here is an early version of a Microsoft Hosts file. It's usually named hosts.sam on your PC.

# Copyright (c) 1998 Microsoft Corp.
#
# This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP stack
#
# This file contains the mappings of I.P. addresses to host names. Each
# entry should be kept on an individual line. The IP address should
# be placed in the first column followed by the corresponding host name.
# The I.P. address and the host name should be separated by at least one
# space.
#
# Additionally, comments (such as these) may be inserted on individual
# lines or following the machine name denoted by a '#' symbol.
#
# For example:
#
# 102.54.94.97 rhino.acme.com # source server
# 38.25.63.10 x.acme.com # x client host

127.0.0.1 localhost

A Hosts file is a simple text file that you can create, edit, or modify with a PLAIN TEXT editor like Windows Notepad or Wordpad. DO NOT use MS Word or a similar word processor type editor as it will add-in "control characters" that will stop the file from working.

The Microsoft Hosts file shown above is a "sample" only; it's usually named hosts.sam and does not actually work. We'll explain why below.

One important difference between a real Hosts file, and the sample one above, or one you might view using Notepad, usually named Hosts.sam, is that a real Hosts file has NO "3-letter extension." A real file is simply named Hosts and NOT Hosts.sam, Hosts.txt, or anything else. To edit a Hosts file, open it in a simple text editor. If you have trouble doing it that way, first re-name the file to Hosts.txt, and then, when you're done editing, you change the name back to just Hosts so your computer can use it.

Note: In Vista, visit the following Microsoft Link for information on how to edit your secure Hosts file. Users of XP and earlier operating systems have it lots easier!

Two other differences between a real Hosts file, and the one shown above, is that the # symbol, used to indicate a "comment," is blocking the two lines near the bottom, i.e., "rhino.acme.com" and "x.acme.com" are blocked and not active, and the file above is not configured to block any bad sites yet, because there are no domains listed below the 127.0.0.1 localhost line.

But, this simple Hosts file has four important basic features of interest that we've highlighted below.

# For example:
#

127.0.0.1 localhost

102.54.94.97 rhino.acme.com # could be a good site you like
38.25.63.10 x.acme.com # another good site you may like

127.0.0.1 badsite.org # a bad site to be blocked

The first element is the # sign. Using these allows you to enter comment lines. When a Hosts file is read by your computer, the # sign tells it to ignore what follows the #, and skip on to the next line.

The second element is the "localhost" line. The numerical address of your computer is 127.0.0.1. This should always be the first domain entry in your file.

The third element, the line using 102.54.94.97 as an example, is a "mapping of a numerical I.P. address to a domain name." But, it is, in this case, a file entry for a good site that you visit often. By placing this entry in the file, you speed up access by your browser because it does not have to go out on to the net, wait for a DNS Server, and then translate "rhino.acme.com," (or whatever), into its corresponding numerical address of "102.54.94.97." Computers use numbers - people use names, and the two must be translated for your computer to work.

The fourth, and last basic element, at the bottom, the one using the 127.0.0.1 address, is, in this example, a BAD guy. This, and many that may follow it in a real file, are sites that are junk. You do not want your browser to go there. How it works is very simple. You just tell your computer that "badsite.org" is at "127.0.0.1," and, since that is the address of your computer, the dumb computer is fooled into thinking it's done, its already there, and it stops looking for "badsite.org." <g> Neat, huh? This is an over-simplification, but it's the end result.

Why you need a Hosts file...

There are two reasons to use a Hosts file, as should be obvious from the above:

First, you can enter "good sites" in to the list and speed up access by your browser by saving a multi-byte DNS lookup, and second, you can BLOCK "bad sites" by directing them to your computer, i.e., to your localhost address.

A good "converter," to use to translate between numerical domain names and I.P. addresses, so you can find out the I.P. addresses of your good sites, can be found here.

If you know how to access the "DOS Prompt" on your computer, here is a way to find an I.P. address from a domain name. Open a DOS window and type TRACERT^domain, where the ^ symbol is a space, and domain is the site address. For example, in our area, here is what we would type to get the local I.P. of www.google.com: TRACERT www.google.com After you type this, press "Enter" and watch. Up near the top of the on-screen data, you'll see, inside square brackets, the I.P. address you want. Here is what we got in our part of the world: [ 66.102.7.147 ]

If you have any difficulty with the above, here is another way to find the I.P. address from a domain name. Open a DOS window, and from the c:\WINDOWS> prompt, type the following to find the I.P. of (say) Google: c:\WINDOWS> ping www.google.com and press Enter. Note that there is a SPACE just before ping. The first data line you'll see on-screen will be the following:
Pinging www.google.com [ 66.102.7.147 ] with 32 bytes of data: The I.P. you want is just to the right of the domain. Use it to create a "good guy" or "favorites" entry in your Hosts file.

If you do not like to use DOS, use your web browser. If you enter a domain, this site will ping it for you!

Want to know if your Hosts file is actually working and doing what it is supposed to do? Example: Here is a "bad guy" entry up near the top of our Hosts file. 127.0.0.1 1.cq158.cn Open a DOS windows and you'll see c:\WINDOWS> (what we see on a Win 98SE PC). If you're using Windows XP, Type Start / Programs / Accessories, and left-click on the Command Prompt option. When the DOS window opens, it'll likely say: C:\Documents and Settings\User Name. Type cd\windows. Now type the following after the prompt: ping 1.cq158.cn Here is what we saw: Pinging 1.cq158.cn [ 127.0.0.1 ] with 32 bytes of data. Note that our computer is trying to reach the "bad guy" using our localhost address, which is exactly what we want! After you're thru "pinging," type EXIT to exit the DOS window. Simple, huh?

Use "Start / Files / Files or Folders" to locate your existing Hosts file. Then navigate to it using "My Computer" or "Windows Explorer." Right-click on "Hosts" and select "Create a Shortcut." Find the link just created in the folder, left-click and drag it out onto your desktop. Now, whenever you want to ADD a "good guy" or a "bad guy" just double-click the shortcut, make your changes in the appropriate area of your Hosts file, select "Save" and then exit your now up-dated file. But, be careful to alwys edit this file using Notepad!

Some computer viruses can open your Hosts file, even though you may have it "locked," i.e., marked as "Read Only." If this happens, some of your domains MAY be "re-directed" to BAD sites. To check for this, use our FREE HostsJacker Utility! Make checking your Hosts file part of your weekly "virus check your PC" regimen. It's really pointless to lock your file. It might make you feel good, but it won't stop bad guys.

Conclusion...

A Hosts file is FREE, and can be easily set up, or downloaded from one of several sites on our home page. The one that came free with your new computer is bogus; it is an example only, and does not do anything. A good Hosts file should be ONE part of your overall on-line security package, i.e., your personal "internet security suite." You can either build your own suite, as we mention in a link given on our home page, or you can buy one. Whichever you choose, a Hosts file should be used with either.

The first time you run our HostsMaster (HM) program, you'll know you have an empty Hosts file if the optimization is done in a second or two, and the number of lines in the file is very small, around 20 or so. Probably the only entry in it may be 127.0.0.1 localhost. Download a real Hosts file from one of the sources on our home page. We suggest you start with a smaller one, say less than 135 KB. It may be all you need. Also, alphabetizing a LARGE Hosts file may be time consuming. Once you know how long it takes on a small file, you can estimate the time needed for your PC to alphabetize a large file.

After you download and run HostsMaster, besides cleaning the clutter and waste from the file, if present, it will also create a backup Hosts file for you named Hosts.org where the "org" is short for "original." Next, also download our HostsJacker program. When you run it, from your desktop, from time to time, it will compare your working Hosts file to your backup and tell you of any differences between the two. This makes it easy to tell if you've been hit by Malware or a Hijacker!

Be careful when you begin using a Hosts file downloaded from the net, or our home page. Some overzealous providers routinely block such valuable sites as Google, Yahoo, MSN, and others. They consider context oriented advertising, free utilities, services, etc. which are of value, (to many), to be "offensive," and in the same category as porno sites and viagra ads. We disagree and will not participate in such Orwellian nonsense. You might want to "edit" any Hosts file you download. See 1/2 way down our home page for detailed information on Hosts file censorship.

HostsCleaner®

Introduction To HostsCleaner, Our Hosts File Dead Domain Removal Utility
Our HostsCleaner (HC) program is FREE software. It works with HostsMaster, our Hosts File Optimization Utility, and HostsJacker, our Anti-HiJack Utility. It's for use with Windows: 95, 98, 98SE, Me, NT, 2000, and XP. Click here to see a before screenshot of the opening page of HC, and then here to see an after screenshot showing the Hosts File cleanup results for a sample Hosts File.

What is does: When you run it from time to time, it checks your Hosts file, after it's been optimized by HostsMaster, using a database which is up-dated monthly. It thoroughly scans YOUR Hosts file, whether it's one you've downloaded from an on-line source, or created yourself, and removes non-responsive DEAD domains from it; the ONLY proviso is that YOUR Hosts File MUST have been optimized using our HM (HostsMaster) Utility. This program will crash if it detects a non-HM optimized Hosts File. This program can reduce the size of your file, which is a good thing, as it can only improve your Internet browsing speed. When it completes its run, HC will write a new "cleaned up" Hosts File and backup.

Operating Instructions
The last HC.exe up-date was on Wednesday, May 16th. Version 1.01. Always download a NEWER version prior to making a 'clean out the dead domains' run. This will insure that you always have the current 'dead pool' list. If you download this new version, after having used an older version, first delete the old HC.exe desktop icon. Now, simply click on this download link; choose "Save," and then download our black "disk-like" shortcut icon, named HC.exe, to your desktop for easy use. Its only about 242 KB in size. Double-click the HC.exe icon to run the utility; it will overwrite any old version and run.

Running HM.exe first is mandatory, as HM will create a fresh backup to your existing Hosts File which will be named Hosts.org where org = original. HC will automatically detect your Windows OS version and then execute itself in a DOS window.

If you should get an error message you do not understand, make sure you have run HM, our HostsMaster Utility, and that both the file named Hosts AND Hosts.org exist in the same default path. See below for the proper path which is based on your operating system.

Un-installation of this utility is equally simple. Navigate to our folder, c:\hostclen, delete it, and then delete the black desktop icon. Can it get much easier?

Windows Default Hosts file Locations
95, 98, 98SE, Me C:\Windows\Hosts
2000, NT C:\Winnt\System32\Drivers\etc\Hosts
XP C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\Hosts

Not to worry as nothing will be written to your PC registry or .ini files like typical Windows programs do. No fuss, no muss, and 100% risk free.

If you run into a problem using our Utilities, please check our troubleshooting page; it may help you find a solution. Thank you!

HostsJacker®

Introduction To HostsJacker, Our Hosts File Anti-HiJacker Utility

Our HostsJacker program is FREE software. It works with HostsMaster, our Hosts file Optimization Utility, and HostsCleaner. It's for use with Windows: 95, 98, 98SE, Me, NT, 2000, and XP.

What is does: When you run it from time to time, it checks your Hosts file, after it's been optimized by HostsMaster, and tells you if your file has been tampered with or hijacked. It thoroughly checks for any changes made by Malware or a Hijacker to your Hosts File. Click to see a screenshot of a HostsJacker Hosts file scan, where the Hosts file is O.K. OR click this link to see a bad report screenshot - then press your BACK button to return here.

Operating Instructions

The last HJ.exe up-date was on Thursday, March 22nd. Version 2.10. If you download this new version, after having used an older version, please delete the old HJ.exe desktop icon. Now, simply click on this download link; choose "Save," and then download our black "disk-like" shortcut icon, named HJ.exe, to your desktop for easy use. Its only about 193 KB in size. Double-click the HJ.exe icon to run the utility. It will overwrite the old version and run.

Running HM.exe first is necessary, as HM will create a fresh backup to your existing Hosts file which will be named Hosts.org where org = original. HJ will automatically detect your Windows OS version and then execute in a DOS window.

Un-installation of this utility is equally simple. Navigate to our folder, c:\hostjack, delete it, and then delete the black desktop icon. Can it get any easier?

Some computer viruses can open your Hosts file, even if it's locked, and make changes. These unauthorized changes can take you to web sites you or your family do not want to visit. Here is an example of what they do. If you know how to edit your Hosts file with a text only editor like Notepad, do the following: Put the following line in your Hosts file, anywhere you want, but after the line near the top that says "127.0.0.1 localhost" Type in, w/o the quotes "206.61.52.30 www.cia.gov" Make sure there is a SPACE between the "30 and www." Now, save your Hosts file, exit Notepad, go to your web browser and type in the site you want to visit. See what happens? Instead of going to cia.gov, as you would think, you went to the HappyHacker.org web site instead! They use the I.P. 206.61.52.30. All a virus need do is change an I.P. address in your Hosts file and you will be re-directed to where THEY want you to go! This program, HJ, looks for these changes and WARNS you.

It is up to you to re-run HostsMaster after making any additions or deletions to your Hosts file. This will allow the needed duplicate file that HostsJacker needs to be up-dated. Then, as you perform your periodic virus checks, (every week we would hope), run HJ at the same time. If HJ reports that "files have changed," and YOU didn't change them, guess who did? <g> Yep, a hijacker! If this happens, find your now hijacked Hosts file and delete it. Then, using Notepad, open the duplicate file that HM created, named Hosts.org, rename it to just "Hosts," (w/o the quotes), save it, and you're back in business!.

If you use Spybot Search & Destroy to augment your Hosts file, re-run HM immediately afterwards to up-date the comparison file used by HJ. If you don't do this, you may get an error message as HJ won't know that the changes were authorized by you.

HostsMaster®

Introduction To HostsMaster

Our HostsMaster program is FREE software. It will "optimize" your Hosts File and make your PC run faster. It's for use with Windows 95, 98, 98SE, Me, NT, 2000, and XP. It's simple, thorough, and it runs in a DOS window. As such, It does not write to your registry, .ini files, or use up your valuable PC resources. This is a GOOD thing!

HM will BACKUP your existing Hosts File, and then optimize it. It will remove blank lines and unneeded text, create an area at the top for you to place your "favorites," find, identify, and remove duplicate entries, alphabetically sort, and then generate a more efficient Hosts File which will replace the original. It will also create a data file for HJ, our HostsJacker Utility, should you choose to use it also. Click to see a screenshot of a HostsMaster Hosts File optimization - then press your BACK button to return here.

Over time, as you add entries to your Hosts File, it's easy for it to become "bloated" with duplicate lines and unneeded text. Also, some Hosts Files that you download from on-line sources will contain duplicate entries, blank lines, and text you'll never read or use. Other Hosts Files may not work at all because they do not faithfully follow Microsoft formatting guidelines. Just run our HostsMaster Utility to clean up your Hosts File. It's like using "Drano" on a clogged sink! :)

Operating Instructions

The last HM.exe up-date was on Friday, March 2, 2007. Version 2.51. If you download this new version, after having used an older version, please navigate to c:\hostmstr FIRST, and delete the old folder; and also the old HM.exe desktop icon. Now, having "cleaned house," simply click on this download link; choose "Save," and then download our black "disk-like" shortcut icon, named HM.exe, to your desktop for easy use. Its only 203 KB in size. Double-click the icon to run the program. It will automatically detect your Windows OS version and then execute in a DOS window.

Note: If you're up-dating, the file Hosts.org, your backup (original) Hosts File, which was created by HM.exe, will already exist. This means that you'll not see a 'Readme.txt' file. If this is a new install, you will see the 'Readme.' If you want to review what is in the 'Readme' file, navigate to c:\hostmstr, and open it in Notepad.

After you run HostsMaster, you really should also download and run HJ.exe, our Hosts File anti HostsJacker Utility AND HostsCleaner, (HC), our DEAD domain removal utility. HostsJacker will use a duplicate Hosts file created by HM to make SURE your Hosts File has NOT been hi-jacked. Run it from time to time to make sure your REAL Hosts File has not been tampered with or hijacked.

A Tip For You Whenever you make additions or deletions to your Hosts File, run HJ, (HostsJacker) first to make sure it's clean. Then make your changes with Notepad, save your modified Hosts File, and then run HM so that you'll have a FRESH Hosts.org data file for HJ to use while checking your Hosts File.

Un-installation of this utility is simple. Navigate to our folder, c:\hostmstr, delete it, and then delete the black desktop icon. Can it get much easier?

Not to worry as nothing will be written to your PC registry or .ini files. No fuss, no muss, and 100% risk free.

Caveats For Users Of 2000 / NT / XP
You may need administrator-level access to save a Hosts File.

If you are running Windows 2000, NT, or XP, and you are not a part of a domain, and subject to the note below, you may need to disable the DNS Client Service Prior to installing a Hosts File.

Note: A Hosts File larger than about 135 KB may cause a decrease in performance on 2000, NT, or XP systems. We recommend you start with a file smaller than 135 KB. If you experience a slowdown, follow the steps given below. OR, use our HostsCleaner Utility REGULARLY. It will remove DEAD domains and keep your Hosts File as small as possible to maximize your Internet browsing speed.

If you use a large Hosts File, you may need to disable the DNS Client Service. To do this, click Start, Run and type "Services.msc" and click OK. Double-click DNS Client service entry, set its startup type to manual and stop the service. You will need to be logged on as a member of the Administrators group to perform this task. After you have stopped the DNS Client you may install your Hosts File.

A nice series of screenshots about disabling the DNS Client Service was put together by Eric Phelps and may be found here.

Failure to disable the DNS Client prior to installing the Hosts file may cause your computer to slow down and/or stop responding until the DNS Client is stopped.

Users of older systems, such as 95, 98, 98SE, or Me, have no DNS Client and are not affected.

If you run into a problem using our Utilities, please check our troubleshooting page; it may help you find a solution. Thank you!

Hosts File Rating System

On-Line Hosts Files
We list several on-line Hosts Files offered by their creators, and/or groups, for download. They are (were) the cream of the crop and were culled from a list of about two dozen found during an on-going search. The several who did not "make the cut" failed because they did not follow Microsoft Hosts file formatting guidelines, or failed to offer regular up-dates. We've recently added a "Six-Star" rating system for Hosts Files. The point is to let you know, quite clearly, which of these files deserves your support, and to encourage competition between providers for your patronage. We believe this is a good thing for all.

Some providers do NOT want competition. In the past, most on-line Hosts Files were well hidden from each other and operated independently. Not any more. By publicizing "who" everyone is, and what they do, people can now make a choice. We think this is GOOD, don't you? Some files do not block ANY search engine links, others block hundreds. Most don't TELL you anything "up front." They just say, in so many words,: "Use our file - it will block you from harm."

Descriptive Terms Used
Most of the information provided on our home page about these Hosts Files is obvious & self-explanatory. These include last up-date, unaltered file size (KB), the number of lines in the file, and the number of duplicates found during a thorough file scan using HM, our HostsMaster Utility. For a reason we cannot fathom, a few Hosts Files do NOT tell you, clearly, the DATE of the most recent up-date, up-front, i.e., before you download. In this case, we mark them as No Date, and set the up-date frequency as N/A.

Here is what we mean by "% Text." Stripped to its most basic form, a Hosts File has one line in it: 127.0.0.1 localhost This is the address of your local computer. Some call it the "loopback" address. To make a Hosts File actually work, a list of I.P. addresses, and bad domain names to be "blocked," follow this first line, like so: 127.0.0.1 badsite.com #keep the kids away, 127.0.0.1 porno.net, etc. So, "% Text" is that percentage of a Hosts File that is just "text," i.e., "chit chat." The # sign, and the text following it, aren't needed, in our opinion, after a first view. This extraneous text may be a list of comments, contributor credits, edit instructions, which entries are "trojans," which are "hijackers," and so forth. We feel that this information, if deemed necessary, should be provided separate from the file itself. A person could read it or delete it, as desired. Why clutter a file with "chit chat" just because modern day PCs have more ram and larger hard drives? Our feeling is that a good file should be in "canonic form," i.e., stripped of anything not needed to do the job. Others feel differently, and that is their choice.

A second term, "% Dead," also needs explanation. For a blocked domain in a Hosts File to "do anything," and not just take up space, it must be a LIVE domain, i.e., one that can be accessed. To be accessible, a domain MUST respond to a request, by a DNS server, for it's I.P. address. This process is called "resolving an I.P."

If a DNS server cannot get the I.P. address of a domain, it may be that the site is having problems and is temporarily down; or it may be dead. If tested over a period of days, a dead domain MUST be dead each and every time it's tested, not just part of the time. We will only flag dead domains and not those that, due to technical problems, are on and off.
As a "benchmark" for our tests, we'll use the following as reported by Site Pro News on 4-18-07: "Google may drop a web site from its index if it's down for more than 48 hours."
To determine the health of a domain, we query DNS servers several times, over a period of 72 hours, and then flag the results. We compute "% DEAD" as a percentage of all the domains in the Hosts File being tested, but only those that were dead each time they were tested, and did not respond to a DNS request. To avoid unfairly skewing the data, one way or the other, tests are not done on individual files at random, but sequentially on all files at the same time during the test period. Because these tests require considerable time, a "% DEAD" test will only be run about once a month.

Another term is "Major Engine Links Blocked." In this column, we tell you how many of the 3 major search engine links offered by Google, Yahoo, and MSN, that this Hosts File CENSORS and will not let you see. The three top search engines use about 449 links, altogether, to provide you with their content. These major engines offer context oriented ads, free utilities, and many helpful services. Before we began to point out "what was going on," a newbie downloading a Hosts File for the first time usually did not KNOW of these blocks, and what they would be missing; now they do!

Another term is "Other Search Engines Blocked." In this column, we tell you how many of all the other search engines this Hosts File CENSORS and will not let you see. There are, if you exclude all links related to Google, Yahoo, and MSN, about 622 links worldwide used by the smaller search engines, web directories, and special interest groups. This column tells you how much your internet browsing experience is being diminished by your choice of Hosts File.

The term "Age" is a reflection of the up-date frequency of the file. It is the running average of the number of days between the last three Hosts file up-dates. It is a measure of the on-going freshness of the list offered by the source. Hosts Files that do notpublish an up-date DATE will be listed as N/A.
= WOW! = GREAT = GOOD = FAIR = O.K. = POOR

We use a STAR image, to denote a measure of goodness. The maximum number of stars a Hosts File can receive is SEVEN, which gives it a Seven-Star WOW rating.

A Hosts File can only rank SEVEN STARS, i.e., the very best, if it is the newest, has no duplicate entries, has the least amount of space wasting chit chat text, the fewest DEAD entries, is up-dated most frequently. In other words, it's lean, mean, and in canonical (optimal) form, and it CENSORSthe least. On the other hand, if a Hosts File fails to meet any of these six easyhousekeeping requirements to earn at least one "gold star," it's in serious need of work, and it gets the opposite, a "black star," , one or more,until it mends its ways, or is removed from our list.

The Stats column gives you Info links. When you click one, a small pop-up box will open. It will give you download information, any special notes about the file, the results of an HM scan, and tell you how many popular search engines links are being blocked, (if any), so as to "protect you" from harm, and from seeing possibly helpful links.

Hosts File Caveats
The following is why Computer Users are attracted to Hosts Files. In so many words, it's what you'll find said about them on many web sites:

"A Hosts File is a line of defense against on-line predators. If you use one, it will block junk ads, banner sites, web bugs, hijackers, and a variety of spyware."

Wow, sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it's all very true, BUT...

But, what you're not being told is that somehow, we don't know how, some major on-line search engines, such as the top three: Google, Yahoo, MSN, who offer, (usually), good information, FREE utilities, and helpful services, now find themselves partially, or heavily blocked by on-line Hosts Files. They have been placed in the same category as smut peddlers, viagra ads, etc. How did this happen? In our opinion, this makes no sense. We feel a Hosts File should protect, but not censor you. It should block known threats, and pornography, not helpful ads, or FREE utilities offered by these major search engines.

All Hosts Files listed on our home page censor a percentage of the links used by the major search engines mentioned above. Some even block many other smaller search engines. Our HostsMaster (HM) utility, in addition to several slimming and speed enhancing options, removes most search engine blocks. In the case of the three search engines mentioned above, the percentage of their links blocked varies from about 2.4 % to 77.5 %! Here are some of the type links that some on-line Hosts Files currently block:

Auctions, avatars, best buy, careers, chat, communities, companion, desktop, entertainment, eshop, finance, games, hotjobs, ideas happen, kids, maps, messenger, mobile, money, music, news, photos, privacy, radio, search, shopping, sports, tickets, tonight show, toolbars, tv, update, utilities, web accelerator, web chat, widgets, women central, etc.

When you search for stuff, the content oriented links provided by Google, and others, are of value; they are not "junk." They are of value because they point you towards what you're looking for. What's wrong with that?

To borrow a few pithy lines from George Orwell's famous noir novel "1984," (a must see on TV), "GOOD IS BAD, LOVE IS HATE, PEACE IS WAR, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." Isn't this what we're being told? Hmmm.

If the freebies offered by search engines are, in any way, deficient, Users should take it up with the search engine via e-mail or phone calls, to resolve the problem, and NOT block everything that is otherwise good that is being offered. This is irrational; it's like cutting off a hand because the thumb has a wart. These are links YOU can choose, (or not choose), to look at, and use, if you want, BUT many are blocked by most Hosts Files as junk. Whatever happened to freedom of choice? Aren't you being prevented from exercising it?

The point being made in all the above is that if you choose to download a Hosts File, rather than make your own, then open it in Notepad. Once open, carefully scan thru it, and edit out all the non-junk lines and domains.

Troubleshooting Your Hosts File

Introduction...
A good Hosts file is a part of your overall internet security. If you use a good one, it will block pop-up ads, banner sites, web bugs, tracking cookies, hijackers, and a wide variety of spyware, all for FREE. Good Hosts files are listed on our Home Page. If you know of others we should add to our list, please e-mail our WebMistress.

We have found about two dozen Hosts files worldwide available for download. These files vary in size from about 7 KB to 4000 KB (4 MB). Of those found, some are incorrectly formatted, and do not follow Microsoft guidelines, while others are rarely up-dated. We've listed several on our home page that are regularly up-dated and deleted the others from our list. The Hosts files listed on our Home Page have all been verified and conform to Microsoft guidelines.

Hosts File Rules...
The guidelines published by Microsoft many years ago are really very simple. They specify that a Hosts file may have four elements or, if you prefer, components in it. Here they are:
A # symbol may be used to identify a "Comment" line.
A blank or empty line is O.K. and is ignored.
A "localhost" line like this just below any header "Comment" lines: 127.0.0.1 localhost
Any number of I.P. addresses to be blocked followed by a space(s) and a domain.
This then says that if you see an innocent looking line like the following in your Hosts file, its bad:

127.0.0.1

The above is an example of improper formatting. It does not meet the requirements of either Rule 3 or Rule 4. It is not a "localhost" line, nor is it a "domain" line. Its probably a "typo" and should be removed.

Another type of error that can find its way into a Hosts file is the "overly long line" error. Simply put, this may start out as a line following Rule 4, and then maybe a # symbol is added for a Comment, BUT, the Comment is "long winded" and winds up on a 2nd or even a 3rd line. This potentially allows ONE or even TWO lines to be created that do not follow the four rules given above. If you come across this, simply add in a # symbol where needed to shorten the lines

There are many other possibilities as you can imagine.

HostsMaster Utility Error Messages...
There are four basic error messages that you might encounter when you run our HostsMaster Utility. Here they are:
Your Hosts file is locked. Please un-lock it.
Your Hosts file can't be found. Please verify it exists.
Your Hosts file is corrupt. Please use one from our Home Page.
The PATH to your Hosts file can't be found.
Error 1 above will occur near the end of the HostsMaster optimization run if the program is unable to replace your existing Hosts file with a new one because yours is "locked." You may have locked it yourself, and forgot, or you may have told the "Spybot Search & Destroy" anti-spyware program that many use to lock it, or?

Error 2 can occur if you've never downloaded or created a proper Hosts file of your own. The one provided with your computer is named "Hosts.sam" and not just "Hosts."

Error 3 can occur if the Hosts file you're using is improperly formatted as we detailed at the top of this page. Another frequent cause of a file reading error is a missing <CR>, (carriage return), at the end of the very last line in the file. Check this using Notepad.

Error 4 requires a little further explanation. Error 4 involves the PATH to your file. Our program will look at the following paths depending on your Windows operating system:
Win 95, 98, 98SE, or Me: Default path = c:\windows
Win NT or 2000. Default path = c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc
Win XP. Default path = c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc
If your Hosts file can't be found in one of the three above, an error will result.

On occasion you may see a "catch all" Error Code that could really be anything. If you get one of these, e-mail us and we'll try to help. The best solution here is to simply use a different file from our Home Page.

If the "catch all" Error Code is a "53," it likely means that before downloading and trying to run a new version of the program, you did not delete the old version as mentioned on the download page. Just navigate to c:\hostmstr, delete the old folder and the desktop icon, and all should be fine.

Note: If you have a problem with the file named "hpHOSTS Downloads" listed on our home page. Be advised that, quite often, this file does NOT have a <CR>, i.e., a "cxarriage return, at the end of the very last line. This error can cause our HostsMaster (HM) Utility, and some other file readers, to generate an error message. After downloading this file, always open it first in Notepad, and check for a <CR> at the very end of the last line.

Note: In Vista, because of, (to us), an arcane security flaw, you cannot edit your Hosts file in the /etc/ directory w/o triggering "security." You need to copy it to another location, your desktop is a good place. Rename it to Hosts.txt, edit the file using Notepad, name it back to Hosts, and copy it back to /etc/ Users of XP and earlier operating systems have it lots easier!

Good luck! We hope we have helped you!

Hosts File Links

Question on Hosts Files: Protection or Censorship?

Answer: BOTH (Except Ours, Andres, and the Spybot S&D files)

When people first ask: "What is a Hosts File?" They're usually told that: "The Hosts File has a list of all the bad things on the Internet." At one time this was true, when Microsoft created this file, only bad sites were blocked. Be aware that now, if you use a Hosts File "as is," from an on-line source, you may not see many goodsite links anymore. Major search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo, and their free offerings, are now routinely blocked, to some degree, by most on-line Hosts Files. A small group of "anonymous others" have decided that they are BAD for you. BUT, not to worry, we've got your back!
A good Hosts file is like "money in the bank." Those we list do a good job of blocking the "bad guys" and provide security and protection against on-line villians. But, at what cost? It's a fact that all on-line Hosts files censor the offerings of major search engines to varying degrees. The three engines we've looked at: Google, Yahoo, and MSN are being "hit" pretty hard. Of about 446 links used by them, link blocking by Hosts files varies from about 0% to 58% !! These large search engines have been placed in the same category as smut peddlers, spyware, and worse by free Hosts File providers. Why is this? Answer: We have some ideas on this to share with you below.

Topics being censored by most on-line Hosts Files, all or in part, (except ours), include such topics as: Auctions, avatars, best buy, careers, chat, communities, companion, desktop, entertainment, eshop, finance, games, hotjobs, ideas happen, kids, maps, messenger, mobile, money, music, news, photos, privacy, radio, search, shopping, sports, tickets, tonight show, toolbars, tv, update, utilities, web accelerator, web chat, widgets, women central, etc.

We've also discovered that the larger sites also BLOCK a number of smaller search engines entirely in various countries around the world! For more information on this, and a list of blocked search engines, click the "Info" link button on the far right of our home page Hosts File table where we give search engine data.

Another point... One on-line Hosts File now comes "equipped," as a "built-in" feature, its own list of favorite sites for you. How thoughtful, huh? They're placed in the file so as to speed up your access to them. You'll see them after you run our HostsMaster (HM) Utility. You might want to delete them.

Well, to some the blocking mentioned above is O.K., while to others it's pure censorship. However you feel, you're entitled to your opinion. Download a file from our site and use it as it is, OR, download it and then edit out, using Notepad or TextPad, what you don't feel is so terrible, OR, better yet, download OUR Hosts File. Be safe but not censored. You may not have been aware of search engine censorship before - but now you are, and you can make a choice. You can de a drone and stand in line with all the other drones, or you can be an individual and make your own choices. Which will it be for you?

It appears that some on-line Hosts Files are run by "committees." As such, no one person authorizes the blocking of a web site. One or more committee members may have an agenda, and do this because they can. One thought comes to mind: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." These individuals have infiltrated a handy dandy Microsoft feature, i.e., the ability to use a Hosts File to block malware, pornography, terror sites, junk ads, etc. and expanded into blocking sites they don't like or promoting sites they do. At first glance, the idea of including "ads" in a Hosts File may sound good, but, advertising, especially context-oriented ads, are not bad; they are helpful, especially when you're searching for something. Block the BAD ads for adult porno and other foul ads, but leave the GOOD ads alone.

If you DON'T like the above, use OUR Hosts File. Learn about it HERE.

Ideas to SOLVE the Censorship Problem

We wish that all those who create and publish on-line Hosts Files would, at least, put ALL links relating to Google in one place, all for MSN in another, Yahoo a third spot, and so on. This would make it EASIER for people who do not want to be censored, (like you maybe?), to find and remove the unwanted blocks. Now this would be a democratic form of censorship, don'cha think? You should be given the CHOICE to block or not block, and a way to DO it.

On the same subject, another idea that would be democratic is to place all the search engines being blocked together in one group, and identify them as such using a # sign label. It would then be much easier for a User to delete these unwanted blocks.

Send an e-mail to your favorite Hosts File author and insist they do this. Also ask them: "Why are there so MANY dead entries in your Hosts File? Why don't you keep it clean? Why don't you care?

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