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The Host File

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You can use this to help stop Web Bugs and spyware from phoning home by using an up-todate host file.

What is the Host File?

It's a list of computers/hosts and there IP address. You put in it hosts that you regularly visit to speed up access to those hosts by avoiding having to look up the IP address from the host name. When you enter www.google.com into your browser your PC first checks the host file to see if there is an entry in it for Google. If no entry is found your ISP's DNS servers are asked for the IP address. Your ISP's DNS servers then send back to you the IP address for Google and then your browser uses the information received to find Google. Obviously this takes time, it's one of the reasons Outpost comes with a DNS Cache, but this stores entries for all servers even ones you don't really want access to.

If Outpost has a DNS cache why do I need to use the Host File?

Well, Outpost's DNS is useful for speeding up access to sites by stopping your browser from querying your ISP's DNS servers, but it won't stop spyware from contacting their servers. This is where the Host File is useful, especially as you don't even have to maintain it yourself - the are several sites that offer an configured Host File for free download. If you enter a host, for a example a known spyware server, in the Host File and give it an IP address of your own PC then whenever your browser or a piece of spyware tries to contact that server it finds the IP address of that host in your Host File and gets directed to your own PC stopping the Spyware from being able to communicate.

Where is the Host File?

On Windows 98 it's in C:\Windows\ and on NT/2K it's in c:\winnt\System32\Drivers\Etc\, I'm not sure where it will be in XP, probably the same as NT/2K but searching for it should reveal it.

How do I add entries to it?

Just open the file in your favourite text editor. To add entries to sites you visit regularly put the correct IP address then a space then the host name. If you want to block a site you give it the IP address of your own PC (localhost) 127.0.0.1, a space and then the host name. You can add comments to it (to help you remember what the entries you have added are for) by prefixing that line with the hash sign (#). You will need Admin rights on NT/2K to save and edit the file.

[A typical host file]

For more Information:

Gorilla's Page
S Martin Designs

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Outpost and the Outpost logo are ©Agnitum Software

This is an unofficial guide, the information expressed here may differ from Agnitum's. There is a support forum (no longer run by Agnitum, but by users) if you need more help this is a good place to start. Where information here conflicts with what Agnitum have told you always go with the information given to you by Agnitum.

 

Guide/site and images ©Stephen Cox