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Windows 7: HOSTS File

When you type in a Web address such as into a browser, the application contacts a DNS (Domain Name Services) server looks up the DNS name and translates it in to a numeric IP address. When Windows does a DNS lookup it first checks a file called HOSTS which is like a mini-DNS server before it checks the regular DNS server.  This file is a legacy technology from the past, but its left in the OS for backwards compatibility.

This file is a popular target of malware, which tries to use it redirect traffic from real sites to phishing sites to steal your personal information. The file is located in the following directory C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC, and the file name is HOSTS with no file extension.

Note: Lines with pound signs (#) are comments.

# Copyright (c) 1993-2009 Microsoft Corp.
# This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP for Windows.
# This file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. Each
# entry should be kept on an individual line. The IP address should
# be placed in the first column followed by the corresponding host name.
# The IP address and the host name should be separated by at least one
# space.
# Additionally, comments (such as these) may be inserted on individual
# lines or following the machine name denoted by a '#' symbol.
# For example:
# # source server
# # x client host

# localhost name resolution is handled within DNS itself.
# localhost
# ::1 localhost