Tip

Block Web sites using hosts file

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An easy way to block access to unwanted Web sites is to alter the contents of the Windows "hosts file." This file will override DNS settings and can help clear up network traffic by blocking selected sites.

The location of the hosts file is different on different versions of Windows. Windows XP = C:WINDOWSSYSTEM32DRIVERSETC
Windows 2K = C:WINNTSYSTEM32DRIVERSETC
Win 98ME = C:WINDOWS

The structure of the hosts file is simple and also contains its own instructions. Entries in this file override DNS settings to directly map IP addresses to hostnames. By designating a local address you can effectively "block" Web sites. When you edit the hosts file, use a simple text editor such as Notepad. The header looks like this:

# Notes: the browser does not read this "#" symbol
# You can create your own notes, after the # symbol
# This must be the first line: 127.0.0.1 localhost

Adding more entries such as:
127.0.0.1 abcsearch.com
will redirect browser requests for abcsearch.com to the localhost, which will not be found and therefore "blocked." This method is very effective for systems that have installed "helpers" such as HotMenu, HotBar and other spyware masquerading as browser add-ons.

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This was first published in June 2004

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