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MVPS Hosts File FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I update the MVPS HOSTS file in Windows 10/8

I'm using a Proxy from my ISP, but the HOSTS file doesn't seem to work?

After using the HOSTS file my machine seems slower?

Why doesn't my Back Button return me to the previous page?

How do I Edit the HOSTS file?

Why do I see "hmm we can't reach this page" (Microsoft Edge)
Why do I see "Navigation to the webpage was cancelled" (IE 8 - 11)
How do I eliminate the Navigation Cancelled Message? (IE) (Firefox users)

Why do I see the "unable to connect" message (Firefox only)

How do I rename the HOSTS file?

How do I lock the HOSTS file to prevent other users from changing it?

Can I use the HOSTS file if I'm running a "Server"?

Are there any Utilities to monitor and protect the HOSTS file?

How do I troubleshoot a problem with my connection?

How do I contribute a listing for the HOSTS file?

I'm not sure how to Extract (unzip) the HOSTS file

Why do I get a Password Prompt when unzipping the download?

How do I know all these entries are valid?

What are all these comments after the entries?

For Issues with Downloading or Extracting the HOSTS file

How do I know if the HOSTS file is working?

Why do I see the "HOSTS file too large" in SpySweeper

Is Merging the MVPS HOSTS file with others recommended?

Do other programs add entries to the HOSTS file?

Why do I see "Access Denied when updating the HOSTS file? (ZoneAlarm)
How do I Update or Edit the HOSTS file for ZoneAlarm Pro or Security Suite users

Why can't I view the videos at my favorite sites?

Why do I get an error trying to Save a webpage in Internet Explorer?

Why does Symantec detect a possible malicious entry in the HOSTS file?
Tip for Norton 360 users - Tip for Norton Security users

Why does Spyware Doctor detect "Possible Website Hijack" in the HOSTS file
Why does Trend Micro Sysclean detect and remove certain entries in the HOSTS file

Proxy and the Windows HOSTS file

If you are connected to the Internet using AOL, a custom dialer provided by your ISP, through a Local Area Network (LAN) connection or a remote proxy server these procedures (using a HOSTS file) may not be effective. Programs such as some "web accelerators" may no longer work if you overwrite the existing HOSTS file as these type programs add entries to the HOSTS file.

Using a remote proxy server which basically does the DNS requesting for you does prevent the HOSTS file from being considered. In other words ...Your browser will route its request through your proxy server before your machine looks up an entry in Hosts.

Possible Work-around: (If you are using a proxy server) [return to FAQ]

In IE go to - Internet Options | Connections [tab] and choose your connection.
Make sure the box called "bypass proxy server for local addresses" is checked.

Example: click the LAN Settings button, select: Proxy Server
"Bypass proxy server for local addresses", click the Advanced button.
Add: click Ok, Ok

Editors Note: these type changes should only be made on a "stand-alone" machine. If you are "Networked" you should check your configuration prior to making any changes.

These type (proxy) problems may also occur if you changed ISPs and the previous settings were not removed properly. Or if you have had a previous "Spyware/Adware" problem, it may be possible that the infection may have altered your system settings. You can determine this by running HijackThis and see if the following entries exist. (these are just a few examples)

R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings,ProxyServer =
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings,ProxyOverride = local

Note: always check with your current ISP before making any changes, or you may lose your Internet Connection.

Strange behavior in the Internet Explorer Back Button

Sometimes when you click the Back button in Internet Explorer to return to the previous page it appears that nothing happens. What usually occurs is that the HOSTS file has blocked one or more (<IFrame>) ad pages that are embedded into the web page you are viewing. These "IFrame" are actually a separate connection, thus the browser reads it as a visited page ...

Martin Hawes sends along this tip:
To verify this click the small drop-down arrow on the Back button, do you see just an ad server listed? ... well now you know ..... As you can see the first three links are blocked ad servers, simply skip to the valid link. However there are a few exceptions. In some cases the web page can contain a script to prevent the user from returning to a previous page.


If you add the "ad servers" you see listed in the Back Button drop-down, to the Restricted Zone this should eliminate the Back button issue.

IE8 - 11  In the event you do see ad servers listed in the Back Button ... check the following settings:

Internet Options > Security tab, highlight the Internet icon, click the Custom level button
Scroll down to the below options and set to Disable ... click Ok, Apply


  • Launching programs and files in a IFrame = reset to Disable ...
    This is the single most exploited setting in Internet Explorer!
    There are no legitimate sites that I know of that use this option ...
  • Websites in less privileged web content can navigate into this zone = Disable

Then add the "ad server" you see listed in the drop-down menu to the Restricted Sites. The key here being once you add an entry to the Restricted Sites, they are considered "Websites with less privileges" and cannot navigate (create a separate connection) in the "Internet Zone".

Not only does this eliminate the entry in the drop-down list ... it also removes the "Navigation to the webpage was canceled" message you see on some web sites that uses the "IFrame".

Creating a HOSTS Editor  [return to FAQ]

To edit your HOSTS file you can create a custom Desktop or Quick Launch shortcut.
Note: the below locations are for the default paths, edit as needed.
Right-click on the Desktop, select: New > Shortcut (and paste the following)



Or put a Notepad shortcut in your SendTo folder
Start | Run (type) sendto (click Ok)
File > New > Shortcut
In the command line, (highlight and paste the below)

C:\WINDOWS\NOTEPAD.EXE (provided Windows is the default location)

Then simply right-click on the HOSTS file and select: SendTo > Notepad (Screenshot)

Windows 10/8

You can use the same method above, (screenshot) however after creating your Shortcut you will need to right-click the shortcut and select: Properties, click Advanced and select: Run as Administrator, click Apply/Ok. (Screenshot)

Or you can simply use Notepad to edit the HOSTS file (requires elevated privileges)

Start > Search > (type) notepad.exe
Win8 users - Charms Bar > Search > (type) notepad ... select Notepad in left pane
Once located, right-click and select: "Run as Administrator"
You can easily locate the correct folder location:
Start > Run (type)  %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc
Win8 users - Charms Bar > Search > (type) Run (type or copy and paste) %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc

This will open the desired folder, then right-click on HOSTS (no 3-letter file extension)
Select: Open and select: Notepad ... if you are unable to "see" the HOSTS file you may need to enable "Hidden Files"

  • Open Windows Explorer Tools > Folder Options > View tab
    Or Organize > Folder and search settings > View tab
    Win8 Users > File Explorer > View > Options > Change Folder Options > View
  • Scroll down to the Hidden Files and Folders section
  • Select: "Show hidden files and folders"
  • Uncheck: "Hide file extensions for known file types"
  • Uncheck: " Hide protected operating system files" Ok the Prompt, click Apply, Ok

Editors Note: general users should reverse the above when not in need as this exposes all system files, including several on the Desktop (desktop.ini) which you do not want to mess with ...

Editing the MVPS HOSTS file

  • You must maintain the proper format or else the entry will be invalid.
  • Entries are made invalid if they contain "http:" or an ending "/" slash.
  • IP addresses are invalid as HOSTS file entries. (re: "  123.456.78.9" or " 123.456.78.9")
  • In the event you need to rename the file, use the below batch file.
  • If you wish to disable an entry place a "#" in front of the line.
  • Each host entry is limited to 255 characters.

Important! When editing the HOSTS file remember to File > Save (only)

  • Do not File > Save As
  • Do not "associate" the HOSTS file with Notepad, this occurs when you select the option to "Always Open" the HOSTS file in Notepad. This will convert the HOSTS (no 3-letter extension) file to a "text file"

In the event you need to edit the HOSTS file and are unable (system message) it may be due to the "permissions" preventing you from editing the file.

  • Right click the Hosts file
  • Click Properties
  • Click the Security tab
  • Highlight your user account in the list
  • Press the Edit button
  • Select (place a check in) Full control

Press OK in the various dialogue boxes to confirm the changes.

You can also Add "Take Ownership" to Context Menu (recommended Win8)

Tip: if you add Notepad to your SendTo menu, then you can View/edit the HOSTS file that way.

  • Win10 users - right-click the Start button > Run (type) shell:sendto (press Ok)

    Win8 users - Charms Bar > Search (type) run and select: Run (left pane - and type) shell:sendto (press Ok)
  • File > New > Shortcut then click Browse and navigate to the Windows folder, highlight "notepad.exe"
  • Name your shortcut: Notepad and Ok

The actual HOSTS location for all Windows versions is defined in the following Registry key:

Note: HijackThis (no longer updated) can detect invalid entries or a "redirection" entry.

Why do I see "hmm we can't reach this page" (Microsoft Edge)

The message you see on part of a web page is from a blocked advertisement (entry in the MVPS HOSTS file). There is no way right now to eliminate that message, since Microsoft Edge does not use "Restricted Sites" ... (screenshot)

Why do I see a Navigation message?  (IE 8 - 11) [return to FAQ]

The "Navigation to the webpage was canceled" is usually generated by Internet Explorer when entries in the users HOSTS file are preventing access from one or more servers designated in the web page. In most cases this occurs from 3rd party ad servers such as "doubleclick", where the "Navigation canceled" message replaces an ad banner or advertisement in a hidden frame within the viewing page.

To determine if this is the case, right-click the Navigation message and select: Properties
Look at the entire "path", (URL) you should see the listed entry. (screenshot)

In other cases the message ("page cannot be displayed") is displayed when a user clicks a link in a page that routes them thru a tracking service, or attempts to connect to a listed hijacker, parasite, etc. and this URL is listed as an entry in the HOSTS file. In the event you are unable to determine why you can not access a certain page, you can drop me a note and I'll try and determine the cause. Please provide the full URL (website page) in question.

On some sites these entries will also cause the "red X" (missing image).

Can I eliminate the Navigation canceled Message?

If you add the ad server noted in the message to the Restricted Sites (IE 10)... then the Navigation message will be replaced by a blank white space.

(Firefox only) Daniel L sends along this tip ... in the Address Bar (type)
about:config then scroll down to the following: browser.xul.error_pages.enabled and set to False

Why do I see the "unable to connect" message (Firefox only)

Wayne Haigh sends along this tip: The solution is to set the following in about:config to false:
From the Address Bar (type) about:config (press Enter)

browser.xul.error_pages.enabled [Google Search]

Safely Rename the HOSTS file

In the event you can not access a site or a certain feature/function, and you believe it may be due to an entry in the HOSTS file.
Check the URL first! It may be taking you to somewhere you don't want to go!

Yes webmasters can fudge the URL displayed in the lower left corner of your browser. Example here shows a URL in the lower left corner but that is not the real URL where you will be taken to. When you are not sure - right-click the link and select: Copy Shortcut - paste to Notepad. You can use the HOSTS Editor to see if that server is listed. If it's listed, many times you'll see a "comment" next to the entry.

Example: if you see "#[Adware.StopPopupAdsNow]" copy the comment between the brackets and enter that term in Google and you'll see why it's listed.

You can use Hostsman or Hosts File Editor to enable/disable the HOSTS file on the fly [screenshot]
Note: be sure to right-click the Hostsman shortcut, select: Properties > click Advanced and select: Run as Administrator
Click Ok, Apply and exit ... otherwise Hostsman will not be able to Enable/Disable the HOSTS file.

  Or you can use a simple batch file to rename the HOSTS file "on-the-fly".
Note: Win10/8/7 users right-click RenHosts.bat and select: Run as Administrator
Download: RenHosts.bat [right-click and select: Save Target As]

  • Place RenHosts.bat in your Windows folder.
  • Create a Desktop or Quick Launch shortcut to RenHosts.bat
    Simply locate RenHosts.bat, right-click and SendTo > Desktop (create shortcut)
    Win10/8: right-click the Desktop/Quick Launch shortcut and select: Properties
    Click Advanced and select: Run as Administrator
  •  Note: if IE is open when you toggle (rename) the HOSTS file, click Refresh (F5)
  • To use: click (the shortcut) once to rename HOSTS to NOHOSTS
    Click again to rename NOHOSTS back to HOSTS
    Note: you will see the above small on-screen message as to the status.
  • Another option would be to use Hostswitch [screenshot] (requires .NET be installed)

Locking the HOSTS File  [return to FAQ]

There are many of these hijackers that add their own entries to your HOSTS file. This is commonly know as redirects, when this occurs you are most likely infected from within.

Steve C sends along this tip: ZoneAlarm Pro includes an option (in the "Firewall" section, "Main" tab, "Advanced" button) to "Lock host file", which seems to give extremely effective protection to the HOSTS file.

Editors Note: "locking" the HOSTS file does not prevent most applications from either deleting the file or editing the contents. It does add a Layer of Protection, but it is not the ultimate solution. In any case you should always have a backup copy of the file handy in case of any unwanted changes.

Personal Web Servers and HOSTS file
If you are running web server software and you are getting "Login" pop-up prompts while using the MVPS HOSTS file, the solution is to use instead of for all entries except for the first entry: localhost

Editors Note: you can use the "Replace" function in Notepad to convert the entries, or HostsMan (see below) has an option for converting the entries to "". See screenshot for using HostsMan.

HOSTS Myth: there is no known documentation that proves a different prefix is faster than "" vs "". I've tested "" vs. "" and see no noticeable difference when viewing various websites ... don't believe the hype that (example) "" is a null address and therefore faster ... this is simply not true, as you can see here that is an assigned address.

Kieran Jacobsen sends along this tip: When using your own web server, I have actually made a HTML page with [Blocked by MVPS.org host file]. My web server doesn't have any other services/pages on port 80 so this is a great solution for me.

Gil sends along this tip: if you are using Firefox, and getting the "Password Prompt"

  • In the Address Bar (type) about:config (Hit Enter)
    In the filter (type) ntlm
    Double-click on network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris
    (type) localhost (Hit Enter)

Testing the HOSTS File  [return to FAQ]

 Win10 users - right-click the Start button and select: Command Prompt
(type) ping doubleclick.net (press Enter) You should see "Ping request could not find host doubleclick.net. Please check the name and try again."

Win8 users - Charms Bar > Search > (type) Command Prompt ... select Command Prompt (left pane)
(type) ping doubleclick.net (press Enter) You should see the following [screenshot]
Note: not all sites return a ping request (example) microsoft.com returns a "Request timed out"

Test #2: paste ad.doubleclick.net into your browser, you should see the following:
"The page cannot be displayed" (IE only)
"This site can’t be reached" (Chrome) (screenshot)

Verifying HOSTS File Entries

The HOSTS file entries are verified prior to each new update. This is accomplished by ensuring that each entry returns a valid DNS (similar to Nslookup) then these (dead) entries are either removed or commented. In some cases the hosting server is down, thus returns no DNS. In other cases the domain may have been suspended for abuse, or the registered owner has let the domain expire. Domains that are expired, Parked or down for extended periods are removed.

Comments in the HOSTS File

The comments are included in the shipped (downloaded) version to allow the end-user to determine (if needed) why the entry exists. Over time the amount of entries has grown to a point where it's too easy to forget why they exist without them. This is also done for obvious legal reasons. Although the comments do increase the over-all file size ... these "comments" are not read into memory. If needed there is an option in HostsMan to remove the "comments" ... however this will remove all the comments, including those that separate the file into different categories. [screenshot]

Why do I see the "HOSTS file too large" in SpySweeper

For whatever reason Webroot has decided that the end-user only needs 500 entries in the HOSTS file. They have stated they are working on the problem ... until then the work-around is to disable Hosts File Shield.

Open Spy Sweeper and click Options. Click Shields and click Hosts File. Uncheck Hosts File Shield

Is Merging the MVPS HOSTS file with others recommended?

Not really ... and for several reasons. The main reason is the MVPS HOSTS file is verified prior to each update, in many cases there are as many entries removed as there are added. If you simply Merge the file with your existing file, these removed (dead) entries are never removed and the file will continue to grow needlessly.

Another reason is how valid are these other HOSTS files? ... many of which are just copies of someone else's work anyway, and are not updated on a regular basis.

Editors Note: I do not provide support for issues arising from the MVPS HOSTS file being modified. This includes Merging with other hosts files, or 3rd party programs that alter the file.

Do other programs add entries to the HOSTS file? [return to FAQ]

Yes there are several legitimate programs that add entries to the HOSTS file. This is why it's important to keep a backup of your existing HOSTS file. When you update via the "mvps.bat" this will rename your existing file. If needed you can open HOSTS.MVP and copy and paste to the new existing HOSTS file any other needed entries.

 Why do I see "Access Denied when updating the HOSTS file? (ZoneAlarm)

There is a problem with certain versions of ZoneAlarm Firewall where the HOSTS file is "locked" even though that option is unchecked in the options. To resolve this problem:

1) ZoneAlarm Control Center > Firewall (left pane) > Main (tab in the right pane)
2) Advanced (button at the bottom) > and find "Lock hosts file" Check "Lock hosts file". Click OK.
3) Click Advanced (button at the bottom) Uncheck "Lock hosts file". Click OK.

You should now be able to update the HOSTS file, however until ZA resolves this problem, on the next Windows restart the file will be locked again (even if that option is unchecked) ... hopefully ZA will correct this shortly!

To Update or Edit the HOSTS file for ZoneAlarm Pro or Security Suite users:
1) Program Panel -> Main -> Program Control -> Custom button -> OSFW tab.
2) UNcheck the box for OSFW, (Operating System Firewall) then reboot.
3) Make your changes (edit or update) to the HOSTS file.
4) Open ZAP/ZASS and re-enable OSFW and reboot

Why can't I view the videos at my favorite sites?  [return to FAQ]

Unfortunately Fox News and many other "Network sites" (NBC, Sci-Fi) have decided to inject commercials or advertisements into their "Free videos" which are heavily laden with 3rd party ad servers and trackers. You can see an example commercial here which plays before whatever video you have selected, to see just a partial list of the 3rd parties involved click here. There are so many I couldn't get them all on one screenshot ... but you get the idea.

The reason this occurs now is [example] CNET was recently purchased by CBS ... and all they are interested in is tracking your movements via all the 3rd party "data miners" that they run the video link thru prior to you viewing it ... this included several 3rd party tracking Cookies.
You can view a screenshot of all the "ad servers" (highlighted in red) that are running in the background.

One alternative is to rename the HOSTS file ... which you can do on-the-fly ...
Important! Just don't forget to enable the HOSTS file again after watching the commercials with your video ...
You can use Hostsman or Hosts File Editor to enable/disable the HOSTS file on the fly [screenshot]

Why do I get an error trying to Save a webpage in Internet Explorer?

The best explanation I can give you is ... when the browser tries to "Save" the page ... it reads the HTML code on the page and NOT what is actually loaded ... so when there are several items missing, or blocked in this case, it can not complete the task and quits, which generates the Error Saving Web Page.

Workaround: rename the HOSTS file and try again ... just don't forget to rename it back again ... also the HOSTS file may not be the cause of the "Error Saving Web Page", an entry in the (IE8) Restricted Zone will also cause this as that entry will prevent anything from being downloaded from that site ... or it may be - Error message: This Web page could not be saved

Tim H sends along this tip ... another way to save a webpage is to install one of the free PDF printer File creators (no longer updated) then you simply choose File > Print PDF and save as PDF

Folks as I've said before ... anytime after running a scan of any security related product and the only detection is one or more entries in the HOSTS file, this is most likely a false-positive and should be ignored, or excluded from future scans.

There is no known infection that only affects the HOSTS file!

Related Utilities
Hosts File Editor ... great little program with all the features of Hostsman ...
HostsMan is a freeware application that lets you manage your Hosts file.
Includes an option to easily turn off the unneeded DNS Client Service.
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 Action Cancelled messag

Note: seems abelhadigital.com no longer maintains their program. (last updated 2017). I have saved a copy of Hostsman, the installer version,
since several other sites still offer Hostsman.

Rename the HOSTS file on the fly ... a simple one click batch file.
or you can use Hostswitch (see below)
  • ZoneAlarm Pro and Security Suite users have a "Lock Hosts" file option.
    However this requires special instructions to edit or update the HOSTS file.
  • Hostswitch is a small utility that you can use to rename or edit the HOSTS file, also displays the status.
    (requires .NET be installed)

Various Troubleshooting Articles

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