How to use the Hosts File:

Detailed Instructions:

(1.) Download the file from the Get Hosts File page (or click here) and uncompress it.

The Hosts file used here was last updated on August 31st, 2003. 


If you want to make your own Hosts file instead of using the example above, then download this and follow the intructions inside of it for adding entries to the file and for where to place it.

If you use Windows 2000 or XP Pro, you will want to visit this page before proceeding.

(2.) Try to locate any existing hosts file on your computer:

Windows 95/98/Me c:\windows\hosts

Windows NT/2000/XP Pro  c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

Windows XP Home c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

(you may need administrator access for Windows NT/2000/XP)

NOTE: Hosts is the name of the hosts file and not another directory name. It does not have an extension (extensions are the .exe, .txt, .doc, etc. endings to filenames) and so appears to be another directory in the example above.

If you do not have a Hosts file already, you may simply extract the file, and place it in your c:\windows\ directory (for Windows 95/98/Me) or your c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\ directory (for Windows NT/2000/XP Pro).  XP Home may have the file in c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\.  If you extracted the file to the correct directory, you may skip to step (4.), otherwise proceed to step (3.)

CAUTION: If you find that you already have a "Hosts" file on your computer, I recommend that you back it up onto a floppy or into another directory on your hard drive so that you may restore it if you do not like the results of the ad-blocking, or in case something else goes wrong while you are trying to set this up. It is always better to be safe than sorry in the event of an unforeseen mishap. Please make a backup copy.

(3.) You only need to perform this step if you find that you have an existing Hosts file:

Open your hosts file in Notepad. It should look something like this when you open it:


# Copyright (c) 1998 Microsoft Corp.

# This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP stack for Windows98

# This file contains the mappings of IP 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 IP 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:

# # source server

# # x client host localhost


If your Hosts file looks exactly like that, then you may simply make a backup copy of it and then delete it. After deleting it, extract the file into either your c:\windows (for Windows 95/98/Me) or your c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc (for Windows NT/2000/XP Pro) folder and proceed to the next step. Windows XP Home may use the c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\ directory.

If other data is in your Hosts file, you will definitely want a backup before you proceed, so make one now. If your Hosts file looks like the one above, but has extra entries, you will need to do a little more work. For example, if you use the program CookieCop Plus, your Hosts file would look like above with the following entries after the comment section: localhost CookieCop

If you find any extra entries in your existing Hosts file, you will want them in your new Hosts file as well. The solution is to make a backup of your current Hosts file, and then extract the file to the folder that contained your existing file. Next, you will want to open the new Hosts file with a text editor (if you have Windows 95/98/Me/NT, the list might be too big for Notepad and will open in Wordpad - if you use Windows 2000/XP, this shouldn't happen).

After you open the file with a text editor, copy the lines from your backup Hosts file into your new Hosts file. You will only need to copy the lines that start with "" or another similar IP number, and add them to the bottom of your new list. Save the file in your text editor. You will want to make sure that the file is saved without an extension. You can do this by typing this into the "save as" line when you save the file:


Make sure you use the quotes to keep the file from being saved with an extension (like .txt). If you find the file has an extension, you will need to get rid of the extension by renaming the file in Explorer to simply "Hosts".

(4.) If you have a proxy server:

You should only need to do this step if you use a proxy server. Examples of proxy servers include: WebWasher, CookieCop Plus, and a web cache server provided by your ISP. If you don't use a proxy server you can skip to step (5).If your hosts file does not seem to be working for you and you skipped this step, try coming back and completing this process.

In IE - choose tools:internet options:connections and choose your connection. If you are using a proxy server, make sure the box called "bypass proxy server for local addresses" is checked.

In Netscape - go to Edit: Preferences: Advanced: Proxies and click the manual setting. Then click on view and type "" into the exceptions box at the bottom.

(5.) Warning in case you missed this in earlier explanations:

If a site is in your Hosts file, and has its address set to, that site will not be able to be loaded from the web. This is how advertisements are kept out, but it also means you may not be able to view a site you want to see. To view a site that seems inaccessible - look in your hosts file for the "" entry and remove that line. You can do this with Notepad or any other text editor. Save the file when you are done. You will then be able to view that site.

If you would like to completely disable your Hosts file, rename it to "Hosts.txt". When you want to use it again, change it back to "Hosts". * Rename the file by opening a DOS window from your Start Menu and typing the following:

To disable Hosts from a DOS window:

cd windows (press enter)

rename hosts hosts.txt (press enter)


To Enable Hosts from a DOS window:

cd windows (press enter)

rename hosts.txt hosts (press enter)

You can also use this to rename your Hosts file if it accidently has an extension on it.

In Windows NT/2000/XP Pro, substitute c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc for the c:\windows in the instructions.  In Windows XP Home, you may need to substitute c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc for the c:\windows in the instructions.

*Do not do this if you use a proxy server, or the proxy will not work. In that case, you would have to delete all entries from your "Hosts" file except for the proxy entries to get the equivalent of disabling the Hosts file. To restore the ad-blocking Hosts file, you would then have to paste all the deleted entries back inside "Hosts".

(6.) Use your browser as you normally would...happy surfing.

You may test your configuration by trying to visit a site that is listed in the Hosts file. Type in a site such as "" and if your browser can not access it then you are in business! If you have problems, try closing your browser and reopening it, or try emptying your browser's cache before trying again. Also, you may need to reboot in some cases.

Another testing method is to see whether or not ads are being blocked on most of the sites you visit. Of course, not every ad will be blocked because of the restrictions I listed above. You will be able to tell this by the fact that you will see empty boxes in the spots you used to see ads. If you would like to see some kind of picture there instead of the empty box while still blocking ads, try eDexter.

If you use Netscape as your web browser, be sure to read the notes section for some important additional information.

(7.) If you would like to keep your Hosts file updated:

New ad servers spring up every day. If you come across one, copy the domain names and then paste the addresses into your Hosts file using the methods in the steps above. If you have trouble with renaming the Hosts.txt file, please see the FAQ section of this website for more in-depth instructions.

Please read these important notes

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What is hosts?

Benefits & Restrictions

How to use Hosts

Read these notes

Get the Hosts file

Hosts for Macintosh

Hosts for Linux




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