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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Block or Redirect Unwanted Websites Using HOSTS File

The hosts file is

one of the

interesting and

useful feature of

both Windows and

Linux operating

systems that

provides many

handy options in

addressing network nodes. For instance,

you can use the hosts file to block

annoying ads, pop-ups, banners, porn

sites, or even redirect one website to

another.

In this post I will show you how to play

around with the hosts file to accomplish

some of the above mentioned jobs.

What is a hosts File?

The hosts file is just like any other

computer file that is used by the

operating system to map hostnames and

domain names on to their corresponding IP

addresses.

In other words, when you type "google.com"

on your browser's address bar, your

computer will look for the hosts file to

see if it contains the corresponding IP

address for the domain name you typed

(google.com). In case if no entry is

present in the hosts file, the request is

then passed on to the DNS (Domain Name

System) server to obtain the IP address.

hosts File vs. DNS

When it comes to resolving the hostnames,

the hosts file is given the first priority

over the Domain Name System. In most

cases, the hosts file remains unconfigured

on the operating system and hence the DNS

is used by the computer to resolve the

domain names to their corresponding IP

addresses.

However, if the hosts file is found to

contain a valid entry for a given hostname

or domain name, then this is picked up and

used by the operating system.

Where is the hosts File Located?

Windows: In case of the Windows operating

system, the hosts file is located at:

%systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc

\hosts

NOTE: In most cases this should be: C:

\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts

Unix/Linux: In case of Linux it is

located at:

/etc/hosts

How to Block a Website?

To block a specific website, all you have

to do is just add a new entry for that

site in the hosts file. I would prefer to

backup the original file and create a new

one instead of modifying it. So, if

something goes wrong, you can just delete

it and restore the original one! Well,

here is a step-by-step procedure on how to

create a new hosts file on Windows:

1. Go to "My Computer" and you should see

the "Menu bar" on top. In case of

Vista and Win 7, just click "Alt" to

unhide the "Menu bar".

2. Now in the menu bar, click on "Tools ->

Folder Options". In the "View" tab

uncheck the option that says: "Hide

extensions for known file types" and

click on "OK".

1. Open a new text pad (New Text

Document.txt) and rename it to: hosts.

You will get a pop-up message with a

warning. Just click on "Yes".

Please note that the renamed file

hosts should not have any extension

such as hosts.txt.

2. Open the hosts file using the notepad.

Now let us assume that you want to

block the sites Facebook and Youtube

on your computer. For this all you have

to do is add the following lines to

your hosts file:

127.0.0.1 facebook.com

127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com

127.0.0.1 youtube.com

127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com

Each entry should be placed on an

individual line. The IP address and the

hostname should be separated by a space

or a tab. In this way, you can block

any given website by just pointing it

to the IP address 127.0.0.1.

3. Navigate to %systemroot%

\system32\drivers\etc. Here you

should see the original hosts file,

rename it to hosts_bak. Just copy and

paste the new hosts file that you have

created. That's it. You've now

successfully blocked those websites

from loading on your computer.

If you are using Vista/Win 7 you may

have to take ownership of the

original hosts file before renaming it.

How to Redirect a Website?

Suppose you want to redirect

Friendster.com to Google.com, all you

have to do is just add the following lines

to your hosts file:

74.125.236.72 friendster.com

74.125.236.72 www.friendster.com

Here 74.125.236.72 is the IP address of

Google.com. To find out the IP address of

any given website, just go to command

prompt and ping it. For example: ping

google.com. You should get a ping

response that displays the IP address

From now on, whenever you type

"friendster.com" on your browser, you will

be redirected to "google.com".

How does a hosts File work?

Whenever you block a website using the

hosts file, you point it to the IP address

127.0.0.1 which in fact is the IP address

of your own computer. In other words, the

IP 127.0.0.1 points to your own computer

and doesn't exist outside.

So, whenever you type the URL of a website

for which an entry is present in the hosts

file, your computer will load the IP as

127.0.0.1 instead of the actual one and

tries to establish a connection with this

IP address (127.0.0.1) but fails. As a

result the website doesn't load at all.

The redirection of the website works by

pointing the domain name of one website to

the IP address of another website (as

configured by the hosts file) instead of

its original IP address. So, whenever you

type friendster.com, it is pointed to

Google.com's IP address and thus, the

Google page loads up instead of the actual

page from friendster.com.

How to Block the Annoying Ads?

I have found a great solution to keep all

the annoying ads, banners, pop-ups and

other parasites at bay by using a pre-

configured hosts called MVPS hosts file.

This hosts file contains a long list of

entries to block all those annoying ads

and pop-ups that usually load while you

are surfing the Internet. You can also

receive regular updates on this to stay

up-to-date. You can download MVPS hosts

file from the link below:

Download MVPS hosts( http://www.winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm )

If you are playing around with the hosts

file and something goes wrong, just delete

the hosts file itself and rename the

original file from hosts_bak to hosts.

This should bring back everything to

normal. I hope this post on hosts file

will help you block unwanted websites on

your computer

-go hacking

. Waiting for your comments.

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