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Blocking Unwanted Connections with a Hosts File

What it does ...

You can use a HOSTS file to block ads, banners, 3rd party Cookies, 3rd party page counters, web bugs, and even most hijackers. This is accomplished by blocking the connection(s) that supplies these little gems. The Hosts file is loaded into memory (cache) at startup, so there is no need to turn on, adjust or change any settings with the exception of the DNS Client service (see below). Windows automatically looks for the existence of a HOSTS file and if found, checks the HOSTS file first for entries to the web page you just requested. The 0.0.0.0 (prefix) is considered the location of your computer, so when an entry listed in the MVPS HOSTS file is requested on a page you are viewing, your computer thinks 0.0.0.0 is the location of the file. When this file is not located it skips onto the next file and thus the ad server is blocked from loading the banner, Cookie, or some unscrupulous ActiveX, or javascript file.

Example - the following entry 0.0.0.0 ad.doubleclick.net blocks all files supplied by that DoubleClick Server to the web page you are viewing. This also prevents the server from tracking your movements. Why? ... because in certain cases "Ad Servers" like Doubleclick (and many others) will try silently to open a separate connection on the webpage you are viewing, record your movements then yes ... follow you to additional sites you may visit.

Using a well designed HOSTS file can speed the loading of web pages by not having to wait for these ads, annoying banners, hit counters, etc. to load. This also helps to protect your Privacy and Security by blocking sites that may track your viewing habits, also known as  "click-thru tracking" or Data Miners. Simply using a HOSTS file is not a cure-all against all the dangers on the Internet, but it does provide another very effective "Layer of Protection".

In case you're wondering ... this all happens in microseconds, which is much faster than trying to fetch a file from half way around the world. Another great feature of the HOSTS file is that it is a two-way file, meaning if some parasite does get into your system (usually bundled with other products) the culprit can not get out (call home) as long as the necessary entries exist. This is why it's important to keep your HOSTS file up to Date.

 More Examples
 AdTechBridgeTrackHonestyMgnetworkValueClick | Google AdSense | Atdmt | Atdmt
Now here is a 3rd party ad server opening a connection to another 3rd party ad server - Ad-Flow
More 3rd parties opening other 3rd parties: Overture | Overture | Directtrack | Directtrack | RealMedia

Note: By placing these type sites in the Restricted Zone this also cures most "Back Button" issues.

MVPS HOSTS now includes entries for most major parasites, hijackers and unwanted Adware/Spyware programs!

Proudly still the #1 rated HOSTS file on the Internet!  -Google |Bing/MSN |Yahoo also regularly featured on the Kim Komando Radio Show

To view the HOSTS file in plain text form. (503 kb) (opens in new browser)
Note: The text version also makes a terrific searchable reference for determining possible unwanted connections.
Download: hosts.zip [right-click - Select: Save Target As] [Updated September-30-2014]
If you find the MVPS HOSTS file useful ... please consider a donation ...

Important Note: The HOSTS file now contains a change in the prefix in the HOSTS entries to "0.0.0.0" instead of the usual "127.0.0.1".
This was done to resolve a slowdown issue that occurs with the change Microsoft made in the "TCP loopback interface" in Win8.1.

This change in the prefix should not affect users. I've had some feedback and COMODO antivirus, Homer Webserver and System Mechanic seems to have issues with the "0.0.0.0" prefix ... to resolve this issue:

You can use the "Replace" function in Notepad to convert the entries, or HostsMan (see below) has an option for converting the entries to "0.0.0.0".

This download includes a simple batch file (mvps.bat) that will rename the existing HOSTS file to HOSTS.MVP then copy the included updated HOSTS file to the proper location. For more information please see the Windows version that applies to you ...

 Windows 8 requires special instructions   Not here - over there see here
 Windows 7 requires special instructions   Not here - over theresee here
Win Vista requires special instructions      Not here - over theresee here

When you run the (mvps.bat) batch file XP users may see a prompt, simply click Run and continue. Once updated you should see another prompt that the task was completed. Some users may see a pop-up from certain Security programs about changes to the HOSTS file. Allow the change ... however if you see this pop-up at any other time ... investigate.

Download Information: (checksum info is on the HOSTS file itself not the "hosts.zip")
MD5
: 70B2D63B4C632D5BC4C8CE910FC05D79 SHA-1: 056C666FF288F0B9441FA20EB6E3D17040519102

Manual Install Method - Unzip in a "temp" folder and place in the appropriate installed location:

  • If you are having trouble downloading or extracting the HOSTS file [click here]
    Note: the below locations are for the typical default paths, edit as needed.
Windows 8/7/Vista/XP   = C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC

The actual location is defined by the following Registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\DataBasePath

  Windows DNS Client Service

In most cases the DNS Client Service is not needed, it is recommended to turn it off. These instructions are intended for a single (home-user) PC. If your machine is part of a "Domain", check with your IT Dept. before applying this work-around. This especially applies to Laptop users who travel or bring their work machines home. Make sure to reset the Service (if needed) prior to connecting (reboot required) to your work Domain ...

To resolve this issue (manually) open the "Services Editor"

  • Start | Run (type) "services.msc" (no quotes)
    Win8 users - Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services
  • Scroll down to "DNS Client", Right-click and select: Properties - click Stop
  • Click the drop-down arrow for "Startup type"
  • Select: Manual (recommended) or Disabled  click Apply/Ok and restart.

Hostsman includes an option to turn off the DNS Service [screenshot]

When set to Manual you can see that the above "Service" is not needed (after a little browsing - when set to Manual) by opening the Services Editor again, scroll down to DNS Client and check the "Status" column. It should be blank, if it was needed it would show "Started" in that column. There are several Utilities that can reset the DNS Client for you ... [more info]

Important! If you are using Network Discovery then the DNS Client service is required and should not be set to either Manual or Disabled.

Workaround for using the MVPS HOSTS file and leaving the DNS Client service enabled (set to: Automatic)

  • If you find after a period of time that your browser seems sluggish with the DNS Client service enabled you can manually flush the DNS cache
  • Close all browser windows ... open a "Command Prompt" from the Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt
    Win8 users - Charms Bar > Search > (type) command prompt > Select: Command Promt (left pane) Ok the UAC prompt
  • (type) ipconfig /flushdns (press Enter) Then close the Command Prompt ...

A better Win8/7/Vista/XP workaround would be to add two Registry entries to control the amount of time the DNS cache is saved. (KB318803)

  • Flush the existing DNS cache (see above)
  • Start > Run (type) regedit
    Win8 users - from the Charms Bar, select: Search (type) run and select Run (left pane) and (type) "regedit" (no quotes)
  • Navigate to the following location:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Dnscache\Parameters
  • Click Edit > New > DWORD Value (type) MaxCacheTtl
  • Click Edit > New > DWORD Value (type) MaxNegativeCacheTtl
  • Next right-click on the MaxCacheTtl entry (right pane) and select: Modify and change the value to 1
  • The MaxNegativeCacheTtl entry should already have a value of 0 (leave it that way - see screenshot)
  • Close Regedit and reboot ...
  • As usual you should always backup your Registry before editing ... see Regedit Help under "Exporting Registry files"

 For all other Questions, Issues and Solutions - see:The HOSTS File FAQ
 For detailed Download and Extract Instructions - see: Download Help

Related Utilities

jv16 PowerTools is the ultimate registry cleaner and Windows tuneup utility suite

PowerTools Lite 2012 is a freeware utility that allows you to easily install the MVPS hosts file

HostsMan is a freeware application that lets you manage, Edit and Enable/Disable your Hosts file.
Includes an option to turn off the unneeded DNS Client Service. [screenshot]
This also has an option to update the existing HOSTS file when needed.
Important! - make sure you select: Default action - Overwrite
Use the Server option to replace the Navigation to the webpage was cancelled message.

Once installed locate the Hostsman location, right-click on "hm.exe" and select: Properties
Click the Compatibility tab and select: "Run as Administrator" [screenshot]

Rename the HOSTS file on the fly ... a simple one click batch file.

  • WinPatrol will allow you to lock your HOSTS file and will monitor changes.
  • ZoneAlarm Pro and Security Suite users have a "Lock Hosts" file option.
    However this requires special instructions to edit or update the HOSTS file.

Linux and Mac Users

Although I do not use either Linux or a Mac, I often get requests for "How To" on that system, so here are a few resources:

 Various Troubleshooting Articles

 

 


To contribute a listing for our resources, or any other comments: Contact

 If you find the MVPS HOSTS file useful ... please consider a donation ... 
Thanks to everyone involved for providing the online update notices for the HOSTS file. These updates are posted to most major security related sites, Newsgroups, and mailing lists, blogs etc.

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