10 Benefits of Using a Custom Hosts file in Windows 10

Hosts file

The Hosts file is a plain text file that maps the hostnames or the website domain names to the IP addresses. It works like a DNS system. In fact, when you type and enter the name of a website in the URL bar of a web browser, the web browser checks the Hosts file first for those domain names, and then the DNS server. The Hosts file overrides the DNS system.

The Windows Hosts file comes only with some information, a few examples, and an entry about localhost. This is definitely not the best use of a Hosts file. You can customize it to work in a number of ways for you. If you do not want to type IP addresses and domain names yourself then you can download pre-compiled Hosts file for you, and then put in in place of the default Windows Hosts file. Here are some of the best benefits of using a Custom Hosts file.

10 Benefits of Using a Custom Hosts file in Windows 10

1. Block Advertisement Networks and Websites

You can specify the web addresses of the Ad Networks in your Hosts file, and those ads will be immediately blocked.

2. Block Tracking Websites

The Tracking Networks have their scripts that they install on websites that use their services. You can block these scripts from tracking you and your data by adding their entries into your Hosts file.

3. Block Malicious Websites

There are various Hosts file projects that create custom Hosts like that include lists of all kinds of malicious, harmful, and advertisement websites. Adding those website names into your existing Hosts file or using a custom Hosts file will add another layer of protection to your computer.

4. Increase Web Browsing Speed

This is related to the other options listed above. Blocking all kinds of ad networks and tracking scripts decreases the page size of websites. Less page size means lesser requests, faster loading and lesser consumption of bandwidth.

There is one more way the Hosts file can increase your web browsing speed. When you type and enter the domain name of a website in web browser URL bars, the web browsers first check with the Hosts file, and then the DNS servers to map the domain name to its IP address. If you enter the correct IP addresses and their domain names of those websites that you most regularly visit in your Hosts file, then the web browser will not have to look for them with the DNS servers. They will find the entries in the Hosts file, and open them according to the way they are setup. This way, the websites listed in the Hosts file will load relatively quickly. This speed increase will be negligible as most of the websites are already optimized for speed. Developers try to load their websites under 3 seconds, and with a good internet plan, you probably won’t notice any difference.

5. Redirect Websites

Until now, we have talked about blocking the harmful or unwanted websites by mapping them to the localhost or invalid target 0.0.0.0. The Hosts file can also redirect the websites. All you have to do it type the IP address of the websites that you want the domain name to be redirected to. For example. If you want to redirect, if you want to redirect an adult site to Wikipedia, type the IP address of Wikipedia first, and then type name of that adult site; do this following the syntax rules of Hosts file. Malicious programs do this a lot, they redirect legitimate and the most popular IP addresses to their own malicious websites. One such example is redirecting the addresses of various antivirus update servers to wrong domain names to leave the computer unprotected. This is called Hosts File Hijack.

6. Block Programs That Show Ads

One way of blocking the programs from connecting to the Internet is by using Windows Firewall Rules. You can supplement that with the Hosts file by blocking the domain and subdomains of that program developer (and its ad network) to ads displayed by that program.

7. Block ISPs from Injecting Ads and Malware

It’s true, some Internet Service Providers (ISP) inject ads into their networks. You cannot always block these types of ad networks using the ad-blocker extension. This is because the ISPs usually use the local ad networks to inject ads. The ad-blockers may not be aware of these companies yet. So, if you realize that your ISP is injecting ads into your Internet then you can block the main domain and all of the connected subdomains using the Hosts file. A better thing would be submitting these company names and their domain names to the ad-blocker extension/add-on developers.

8. Test Host Server

You can map your existing live domain name to your test server to check how it performs. This way, to everyone else, the domain maps to the actual servers of the website whereas, on your computer, it maps to the test server.

9. Parental Controls

Parental Controls is a necessary feature to use if you have kids in your household. Some third-party DNS service providers provide pre-configured sets that automatically block specified website categories on that computer. You can use OpenDNS to implement this on your computer for free. Along with that, you can also add names of those specific websites in your Hosts file that you do not want the kids or your family members to visit.

10. Social Media

You can block various social media websites, and other bandwidth and time-consuming websites using the Hosts file. The same trick used in the previous option can be used here as well.

Download the Custom Hosts files

Download the pre-compiled and up-to-date Hosts files from these three wonderful sources:

1. hpHosts
https://hosts-file.net/?s=Download

2. MVPS Hosts
http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts2.htm

3. Block Adverts
http://hostsfile.mine.nu/downloads/

Use only one of these at a time.

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