Lock, Manage, Edit Hosts File in Windows 10/8/7

The Hosts file in Windows 10/8/7, is used to map hostnames to IP addresses. This Hosts file is located deep down in the Windows folder. It is a plain text file, and the size of the original default Hosts file is around 824 bytes.

Hosts File in Windows

In this post, we will see its location and also how to manage, lock or edit the Hosts file.

Host file location

The Hosts file in Windows is located at the following location:

C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc

Lock Hosts file to prevent hijacking

Imagine clicking on www.thewindowsclub.com and seeing a completely different website load in your browser. Malware can redirect Web addresses on your computer by altering your hosts file. This is referred to as the Host File Hijack.

To prevent Host file hijacks, you may navigate to it, right-click on it, select Properties and make it a Read-only file. This will lock down your Hosts file and prevent anyone or any malware from writing to it.

Block website using Hosts file

To block a website using the Hosts File, simply add the following entry:

127.0.0.1       blocksite.com

Although I do not do it, many users like to manually add entries to it in order to block the opening of one or more particular websites. Others, like to download and use List from well-known sources like mvps.org, to add entries which block malware sites from opening.

Edit Hosts file

If you need to edit the Hosts file, navigate to the following folder location:

C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\

Here you will see the Hosts file. Right-click on it and select Notepad. Make the changes and Save.

But sometimes, even when you are logged on with administrative credentials, you may receive the following error message:

Access to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\ hosts was denied

Or

Cannot create the C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts file. Make sure that the path and file name are correct.

In this case, type Notepad in start search and right-click on the Notepad result. Select Run as administrator. Open the Hosts file, make the necessary changes, and then click Save.

HostsMan

While you can always manually manage or edit Hosts file manually, I would like to suggest that you use a third-party freeware tool like HostsMan to do it.

Hosts file in Windows 8

HostsMan is a feature-rich tool that lets you add, remove, edit entries in the Hosts file. It also lets you easily add third-party Hosts lists that help in blocking malware sites and lets you easily enable or disable the hosts file. It includes a built-in hosts file updater & a hosts editor. It lets you scan the hosts file for errors, duplicates, and possible hijacks – and also lets you create an Exclusion list. One more useful feature it offers is the Hosts file backup manager. Backup your Hosts file to a safe place and use it to restore it, should the need arise.

Hostman also lets you Flush DNS cache, open Hosts with a text editor, count the number of hosts, find duplicates, replace IP, scan hosts for malicious entries, rearrange hosts, manage DNS Client Service and more. In short, its the only Hosts Manager that you will even need. You can download it from its home page. SysMate Hosts File Manager is another tool that lets you do so.

How to manually reset Hosts file back to default in Windows may also interest you.

If your browser has been hijacked, you might find this post on Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools helpful.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.