Mike Binns
Computer Advice
Simple, Quick, Free steps you can take to get your computer up to speed
Sick Computer
Main
   Home/Welcome
   About this site
   Why doesn't it just work?
   Where Do I Start?
   Who is Mike?
   Contact Mike
   Non-Windows Users
   Site Updates
   FAQ
   Support this Site
   Digg this Site



Sponsored Links:
   
   Advertise Here

Software (1st Time)
   Software Home
   Operating System
   Format/Reinstall
   Remove Programs
   Install Anti Spyware
   Hosts File
   Remove Viruses
   Install Antivirus
   Run Microsoft Update
   Automatic Updates
   Setup Firewall
   Install Firefox
   Firefox Extensions
   Clean Startup Items
   Set Virtual Memory
   Remove Temp Files
   Defragment Hard Drive
   Clean Desktop

Software (Refresher)
   Refresher Home
   Hosts File
   AntiSpyware
   Remove Viruses
   AntiVirus
   Microsoft Update
   Firefox/Extensions
   Remove Programs
   Check Objects
   Startup Items
   Temporary Items
   Defragment Drives

Hardware
   Is What I Have Enough?
   Purchasing Ram
   Purchasing a Computer

Other Advice
   Forwarded Emails
   Email Attachments
   Email Address

Other Recommendations
   Overview
   VoIP
   5% cash back
   TiVo
   Online Customized Radio
   4.40% Savings rate
   Cable Internet





Hosting Provided By:
   Lunar Pages why?

Site Best Viewed In
Get Firefox!


Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
Valid CSS! timg
Tell a Friend | Problem on page? | Support this SiteImportant to read | Not so important to read

Ask your computer questions on my new site: Helpdeskr.net
"Hosts" File

Page Goals
  • Ensure that your Hosts file has not become corrupted by viruses
Domain Name System (DNS)

As you probably know, Computers talk back and forth over the internet using IP Addresses which contain 4 numbers from 1-255 separated by dots. The IP address is like a phone number for your computer over the internet. Unfortunately it is not too easy for a person to remember an IP address. A web site name (such as cnn.com) is much easier to remember, but computers cant talk using names like these. To fix this problem, there is a system that maps web site names to IP addresses (called the Domain Name System, or DNS). When you want to go to a web site such as "www.cnn.com", your computer asks the DNS server "what is the IP address of 'www.cnn.com'", and the DNS server replies with the IP address that www.cnn.com is hosted on.

What does the Hosts file do?

The "Hosts" file is used by windows to circumvent the DNS system. It is usually only used for testing purposes. Say I had a test server that I used that was an exact copy of this site just a different IP address. I could put an entry into my hosts file that says to point to the test server IP address whenever computeradvice.mikebinns.net was contacted. This way I could make changes to the test server and test them out without breaking the regular server for all of you.

How can the hosts file be used by viruses

Some of the viruses in the wild now use the host file to prevent you from going to important sites such as microsoft.com and symantec.com (preventing you from getting critical updates and antivirus). They also sometimes block stuff such as ebay or other often used sites. The way they do this is by putting an entry into the hosts file that points the web site (such as microsoft.com) to the "loopback IP" of 127.0.0.1. Whenever your computer contacts 127.0.0.1 it is actually contacting itself (hence the name loopback IP).

How can the host file be used legitimately

Some programs use the hosts file to prevent your computer from loading advertiements and spyware. If your hosts file has a lot of entries for advertisement websites, these may be in there legitimatly. Unfortunatly it is not easy for the average user to determine if hosts file entries are legitimate or not, so I suggest that home users remove all except for "localhost".

Fixing Hosts File

The best way to fix the hosts file is using Microsoft Antispyware. The problem is that if you haven't already installed it and the hosts file for microsoft.com was modified, you wont be able to download it.

If you have Microsoft Antispyware installed, scroll down to the "Using Microsoft AntiSpyware" section. If you cant install Microsoft AntiSpyware, use the "Emergency Way"

The Emergency Way

To access your hosts file without Microsoft AntiSpyware, click the start menu->run. type in "c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc" (without the quotes) and press enter. If the page that opens warns you that the files are system files, click "Show me the files anyway".

In the folder there will be a number of files beginning with "hosts". The one you want has no extension (i.e. it is just "hosts" not "hosts.bak" or "hosts.msn"). Double click it and an "open with" box will open up. Scroll down and double click "WordPad".

You will see some lines starting with "#"'s, scroll down to the first one that doesn't have a # on it. This one will most likely be "127.0.0.1 localhost". This is the localhost loopback and is valid and ok to leave. If there are any entries below this one, delete all the lines below it. Click "file"->"save" and then close the hosts file.

You should now be able to go back and proceed with the Install AntiSpyware step.

Using Microsoft AntiSpyware

To fix your hosts file using Microsoft AntiSpyware, open the program from the red or blue target icon in the system tray or from the start menu->(all) programs->Microsoft AntiSpyware. Click the "Advanced Tools" icon then the "System Explorers" icon. Under the "Networking" section, click "Windows Hosts File".

You will see listed every item entered in the hosts file. There should always be the "localhost 127.0.0.1" entry, this is valid and ok to leave. If there are any listed below localhost, click on each one and click "Permanently Remove Host".

Once all the items (except for localhost) are removed, you can move on to the next section. If there were any other than localhost, it MAY mean your computer does or did have a virus at one time.



Progress Tracker Update
(Click the checkbox and click next to update the progress checklist)
My hosts file only contains "127.0.0.1 localhost"

Next >> Start at the Beginning and go through all the steps!




Next >> Remove Viruses






Problem with instructions on this page?
Grammar/Spelling error on this page? (I wasn't an English Major ;) )
Other Feedback

Site Designed by Mike Binns Websites
Contents ©2014 Mike Binns




LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Although these instructions have been tested on thousands of computers without incident, and chances of any damage or loss of important data resulting from following these instructions are virtually zero, there always exists a very small chance that something could go wrong. I add the following warning not because I ever believe that anything will happen but because today's lawsuit happy world requires it:

Although I will attempt to assist you (via the contact me form) with issues that arise from following these instructions, you are using this website at your own risk, and I am not legally responsible for any damage or loss of data that may occur related to the use of this website.


Privacy Policy




sbox@mikebinns.net ignore sbox@mikebinns.net it is a spam catcher
$$$:$$$
Got a computer question?

Thank you for visiting my site. Hopefully this page or another on this site can help answer the question(s) you have.

If not, please check out the new website Helpdeskr.net where you can ask questions and get answers fast!. - Mike

Visit Helpdeskr.net now

Progress Checklist  /\ \/
First TimeRefresher
Refresher:
 Hosts File
 AntiSpyware
 Remove Viruses
 Antivirus
 Microsoft Update
 Firefox/Extensions
 Remove Programs
 Startup Items
 Temporary Items
 Defragment Drives
Uncheck All
First Time:
 Windows XP
 Format/Reinstall
 Remove Programs
 Install AntiSpyware
 Hosts File
 Remove Viruses
 Install Antivirus
 Microsoft Update
 Automatic Updates
 Setup Firewall
 Install Firefox
 Firefox Extensions
 Startup Items
 Virtual Memory
 Remove Temp Files
 Defragment Drives
 Clean Desktop
 Sign Up for Refresher
Others:
 Forwarded Emails
 Email Attachments
 Email Address
 VoIP Phone
 5% Cash Back
 TiVo
 Customized Radio
  Savings Rate
 Cable Internet
Collapse