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Hosts files: a guide to understanding its benefits & usages 

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Hosts files are responsible for mapping hostnames to IP addresses. There are times when these files need to be edited to either test custom domains or block some websites. Keep scrolling to understand the usages and benefits of Hosts files and how they can be edited in different OS.

Editing Hosts files

  • Windows

Windows users need to open the file and navigate to the Start Menu. Then, type Notepad, right-click on it, and click Run as Administrator. Next, open the Hosts file and click on File > Copy & Paste the path “c:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts,” and then you can edit the file.

Once you have finished editing the file, you must click on Save your Hosts file. Also, you need to check if the changes have taken place. For instance, if you have edited the Hosts file to block a website, you need to save the changes and open your browser to see if the website is blocked. Then, if you can still access the particular website, you need to edit the Hosts files again.

  • Mac

When you need to edit or make changes to etc Hosts Mac, you have to look for the terminal application on your system. Most users rely on Spotlight for searching the Hosts files. You might be prompted to enter your administrator password and then make the changes.

  • Linux

Head to the Linux terminal window, and you need to open the Hosts file by selecting your choice of text editor. When prompted, enter your administrator password. You can use the text editor to edit the Hosts file easily, and the steps are similar to Windows.

Usages and Benefits of Hosts Files

The Hosts files are used by operating systems to quickly map the connection between domain names and IP addresses. The several usages and benefits are listed below.

  • Privacy protection

Hosts files are edited to block advertisers, third-party websites, and trackers and also block marketing attempts. It can also block banners, ads, and other third-party page counters that might be impacting your privacy. So, these files are used to enhance users’ privacy when they are browsing the Internet.

  • Block malicious websites or websites that are inappropriate for your kids

If you do not want your kids to access some particular types of websites, you can easily block them by the Hosts files. You can also prevent access to websites that you consider malicious. You can even block potential hijackers and programs that appear suspicious. Therefore, you can add an extra layer of protection to safeguard your system.

  • Enhance security

These files can be utilized as a firewall in your local system. The Hosts files can block Spyware and protect your information. You can add all the ad Networks domain names and Spyware websites in your Hosts files to block these websites, and you don’t have to worry about hackers or hijackers stealing your information.

  • Development

Users need to run the web applications on the localhost for verification during the development stage. Websites can run on the localhost IP address, 127.0.0.1 or localhost. However, localhost comes with its share of limitations. Before you wish to launch on the public domain, you might want to review your website on the custom domain. It is critical to debug some of the payment gateway problems so that your target audience can safely shop and provide their banking information on your website. If your payment gateway is not supporting localhost IP or URL, you need to add a custom domain in the Hosts file and then validate the payment process on localhost.

  • Block social media websites

Social media websites can be quite distracting, especially when at work. If you want to eliminate distractions and concentrate on your tasks, you can block social media websites using Hosts files.

  • Augment the web browsing speed

When you are blocking all types of tracking scripts and ad networks, you are decreasing the page size of the websites. Therefore, when the website is of lesser size, there are fewer requests, and the website can load faster. Furthermore, the bandwidth consumption is low.

Besides these, you can redirect websites, block ISPs from injecting malware and ads, block programs that show many ads, etc. You can even exercise parental control by blocking inappropriate websites for your kids. So, they cannot access those sites, and you don’t have to supervise your children constantly. You can do all of these by editing and managing Hosts files on various operating systems. It can help improve your overall browsing experience and keep your personal information away from the reach of hackers and cybercriminals.

So, this is what you need to know about the benefits and usage of Hosts files. You can also learn how to edit the Hosts files so that you can block websites or enhance your browsing experience.

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