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Host file usually stores hostnames and IP addresses linked to them. This means you can point out a name matching a particular address for a program or even a web browser to help you resolve the address. Besides, you can always get a host file in every operating system based on the device you have.
What Is the Host File Used For?
You can use a hosts file in several ways. Here are some of the 4 most important uses you need to know.
Block Ad Networks and Spyware
To block Ad networks and spyware, create a list of domain names for the sites you don’t want. Ensure you add them in the host file and map them to an IP address that points back to a machine you are using.
If you do this, your browser won’t get to those domains. This will ensure your site is more secure since you will not get to malicious sites.
Enhance Browsing Speed
With a host file, your browsing speed will be high as you won’t have to keep waiting as you download any ads from their network sites. And this is what many website owners do yearn for, right? This is because a PC does not have to query the DNS server for an IP address and hence makes you wait longer for it to respond.
You can enter your site’s address plus domain name, ensure you use a space to separate them, and then save this file. However, if you are prone to changing your IP, this isn’t recommended since it can be hard to connect to your site.
Generate Web or Intranet Services’ Shortcuts
You can alter your windows hosts file if you need to create shortcuts for web services, and internal or public sites. For example, if your server has 188.8.131.52 as its IP address on a network, it will be simpler to recall a descriptive name compared to using the figures.
You can produce a shortcut for your device, all you need is to map the IP to your desired name. Ensure it has a .com extension. Add 182.178.20 to mydevice.com and then save your file.
Besides, anytime you go to your site from a browser, a server interface opens up. You can always create a distinct shortcut for any website based on your choice.
Redirect Your Website
With a hosts file, it’s possible to redirect your site to a specific domain. For instance, you can edit the file in such a way that when users attempt to access Facebook, they’re redirected to your firm’s website or any other site.
Ensure you know the address for the target site and then use the file to map an IP address to Facebook.com.
To redirect Facebook to google’s site IP, you need to first enter their address and include the Facebook.com extension at the end of the file. Lastly, you can save the file.
What Is Stored in Hosts File?
A hosts file stores host names plus their related IP addresses. If you are thinking about what the file stores, it’s as simple as that.
Therefore, with the file, you can identify a name that matches a particular IP for a program or web browser to resolve the address.
That’s rather than what a DNS server you’ve configured gives. You can find the host file in every operating system of mobile devices, Mac OS, Linux, and windows.
A system administrator of every PC can help modify the hosts file. To realize the significance of the file, you need to access a computer or web page on the network.
This allows you to examine the file to confirm if there’s data in there about the computer or domain. In case you can’t find whatever you’re looking for, you can check the DNS server you configured.
When Should I Use Host File?
You should use a host file when you need to review a site having a custom domain title before you map it publicly to a website. For instance, you can always route a domain name on a live website as developments continue on a different server.
Therefore, before you make a website public, check a prelaunch or development website using the custom domain name.
To do so, modify a hosts file on a local device to point the domain name to an IP of the site you need to examine. A hosts file incorporates mapping of the Ip to the URLs.
Moreover, a browser uses the file’s entries to override IP addresses to URLs mapping a DNS server returns. Since this is helpful, you can test SSL configuration and DNS changes before you allow your site to go live.
Is a Host File Associated With Risks?
A host file is associated with risks and one major threat is, your file can be easily altered with a bad program without you realizing it. This can divert traffic from a computer to a malicious site.
You can avoid this if you have a great antivirus and firewall. Hence, it will deter any kind of awful program from entering. And if you have some doubts, you can check if the hosts file has a strange entry.
Some benefits also accompany a hosts file. When you have it, you can customize the names of your team, and when you enter the name, you’re redirected to a certain IP.
You will also be able to block sites or do anything you want to. Besides, many companies use it to determine specific IP addresses. If you need to personalize your computer access on a network with a specific name, you can choose to edit the file and it’s also quite efficient.
Does Hosts File Override DNS?
The host’s file does override DNS for a machine’s domain when you modify it. The DNS management is always helpful whenever you need to test a site that has no test link before it goes live with SSL.
And also when you need to ascertain that a pseudonym site functions before undertaking the DNS modifications.
Altering a host’s file results in a local machine looking straight at the IP address you indicate. Moreover, it entails adding double entries to it. Every entry incorporates the IP address you need your site to unravel plus an Internet address’ version.
After putting in the domain details and saving the file, the system starts resolving the IP you had specified. When you finish testing, you can discard these entries.
What Is the Difference Between the DNS and the Host File?
A DNS is a server and you can view it as a registry that has domain records like MX and A records among others. However, a hosts file is mainly used by the operating systems. It specifies an IP address for subdomains or domains.
An entry into a hosts file can be enough when it involves a local test website. However, if it’s a live one, a DNS entry for a domain you prefer to have a website hosted on will be necessary.
Picking the one you will use depends on several things. Like whether a server you are hosting a website uses its DNS server, the one on a similar network where connections to a server will also be used.
And also, if a domain name that a website uses has a nameserver linked to an externally available one.
In case the two instances are correct, you may use the DNS server. If it isn’t, you can confirm if the server hosting a site operates on a similar machine as a client who’ll keep checking the site. In case this is it, you can use the host file to suggest your domain to a local IP and make sure the domains suit bindings in the IIS.