| By Scott Dunn |
Bolster your antivirus, firewall, and antispyware protection by customizing the IP address manager built into Windows.
Redirect ad servers and other undesirable addresses in Windows’ Hosts file and update your unwanted-address list automatically for free with the HostsMan utility.
Forward undesirable IP addresses to Nowheresville
No single security program is guaranteed to keep you safe. That’s why you need to take a multilayered approach to PC safety. A quick, simple, and free way to strengthen your defenses is by editing Windows’ built-in IP address book, a.k.a. the Hosts file.
This system file converts domain names, such as “www.google.com,” into their corresponding IP addresses. In IPv4, the address is four sets of one-to-three numbers, with each set separated by a period. (For example, the last time I pinged www.google.com, the IP address was 126.96.36.199, though the service has oodles of addresses.)
The Hosts file performs a function similar to that of the DNS (Domain Name System) used by network servers. But unlike DNS, the Hosts file is under your control and overrides any mappings found in the DNS.
For example, when you enter a name such as WindowsSecrets.com in your browser’s address bar, the browser checks the Hosts file to see whether the domain name’s corresponding IP address is listed there. If the address isn’t in the file, the browser looks for it on a DNS server and then makes the connection.