Radar Hill Blog

Me and my Hosts List: or, how I beat The Man

A pixellated 'hand' cursor clicking on a blue-bordered box reading "Ads"EDIT: One of our other coders has found this interesting article arguing for ads and why you should view them: Why Web Designers Should Not Use Ad Blockers (Opinion Column)


If there’s one thing all of us are tired of dealing with on the internet, it’s advertisements. Be they animated, blinking, crowded, garishly coloured, slowing up our browser, or just plain annoying, most people would be happier off without them.

Fortunately, there’s one very simple thing you can use to cut down ad presence on your browser. It’s easy to implement, and doesn’t require downloading anything (unless you want to make it even simpler). This magical device is called your hosts list.

Your hosts list is a list of online addresses that Windows (or Linux, or Safari) checks before loading anything into your browser. If a site is in that address list, your browser will refuse to connect with that site, and you won’t see anything they’re trying to send you — and as an added bonus, that site can’t connect to you and see what you’re doing on the internet, as many ad sites tend to do.

Want to view a site that the hosts file has blocked? Simply go back into the file and take that site off the list. Want to block an ad that the hosts file doesn’t seem to have caught? Find out where the ad links to, and add that address to the list.

So how do you do this?

First you go to one of the following locations, depending on your operating system:

Windows 8 = A bit complicated. See this article.

Windows 7 = C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC

Windows Vista = C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC

Windows XP = C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC

Windows 2K = C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC

Win 98/ME = C:\WINDOWS

There should be a file in that location called “hosts”. Make a backup of it by copying and pasting it into the same folder (which should create “Copy of hosts”).

Go to http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.txt and copy the entire page. Paste it into the original “hosts” file (you can edit it using Notepad or a similar text-editing program), and save. Restart your browser (some computers may require a full restart).

You can test it by trying to go to one of the websites on the list, like ad2games.com. If your browser says it can’t connect to the site, your hosts list is working. Voila, primarily ad-free internet.

Source: Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File

About Kendra

Self-taught and Google-trained, Kendra is Radar Hill’s content expert certified in both Google AdWords and Analytics. Armed with a wide array of testing and analysis tools, she’s always researching the latest SEO trends and works hard to make sure that websites and online marketing campaigns deliver a top-notch customer experience.

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