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Hosts File


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#1 jcinsc007

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 12:37 PM

My question: Can I delete a "hosts" file? If I do delete it, will it "grow back" the next time AVG is run? Or can I just edit the hosts file in Notepad and get it shortened?

Some facts, details and background:

My teenaged grandchildren have left after spending a week with their grandmother and myself. Something tells me that should be a clue.

This morning my AVG anti-virus showed me a never-before-seen message, that the following file had changed:
C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

Yet all the scanning results indicated that there was no virus.

Fair enough. I read some posts on this forum about the message I received, so I am comfortable that I do *NOT* have a virus, nor is my computer infected.

But what about that "hosts" file? It's **HUGE**!! I opened the file in Notepad (I'm running Windows XP Home with SP-2), and the file just goes on - seemingly - forever!

Besides that, I found three "hosts" files. Their file names and sizes:
hosts (220 KB)
hosts.bak (220 KB)
hosts.20080216-100841.backup (4.00 KB)

Thank you.

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#2 quietman7

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 01:24 PM

AVG does not change your HOSTS file but it will alert you that the HOSTS file has changed since the last scan. What security programs are you using? Although malware can be responsible for altering the HOSTS file, some security programs like SpySweeper and Spybot S&D have features that can add numerous entries to your HOSTS file and that action may be detected as a change. If you downloaded and used a custom HOSTS file or made edits that too would trigger a change detection. If you did not make any changes or do not have security programs with these features, then you need to investigate what the changes are.

The HOSTS file should not show as changed unless the user is aware of a program needing a change made to it and is aware that it is being altered. Protection softwares and also Malware's will often change this file so they can affect where a computer goes to on the internet.

This is one reason why the user on this system needs to look at the file to make certain that something didn't change it and if so determine if it is a good or bad change...

General system maintenance can change the file even when it isn't apparent by visual inspection. AVG uses a checksum to compare a file before and after and a minor change or correction to the file could have caused it to appear changed.

Re: C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
Host file changed

The HOSTS file is a text file that has no extension and can be viewed using notepad. At the top is an explanation of the simple syntax. Each line is an IP address, a domain name, and an optional comment placed after a # sign. A HOSTS file maps an IP address to a name. The original purpose of hosts files was to map the proper address to a site's name but now its also used for blocking purposes. Hosts File FAQS

The HOSTS file is found in these default locations:
Windows Vista -> C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
Windows XP -> C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

These files are usually located in the etc folder:
hosts - 1KB <- does not have a file extension and varies in size if using a custom hosts file.
lmhosts.sam - 4 KB
networks - 1 KB
protocol - 1 KB
services - 1 KB

You may also have back ups of your hosts file created by various security programs.

An example HOSTS file is shown here. An example of a customized HOSTS file is shown here.

HostsMan is an application to manage your Windows HOSTS file. It is mainly intended to block specific domains (mostly advertising servers) by redirecting them to localhost, but can also be used to add any other domain/IP combination that you want to be included in the HOSTS file. In addition to editing features, HostsMan can prevent other programs from writing to the HOSTS, import and merge Hosts files, resolve IP addresses and mark potential hijack entries.

HostsXpert - Hosts File Manager is a tool to view the hosts file, set it to read, restore, backup and general edit and repair.
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#3 jcinsc007

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 03:38 PM

Thanks, QuietMan7.

I am using these security programs:
AVG (free version)
Spybot S&D
Ad-Aware
Spyware Doctor
Zone Alarm (free version)

I update them (or check for updates) daily, even though some do not have daily updates (AVG always does).

Additionally, I do comprehensive data back-ups monthly. (I sure go through a lot of DVDs but I feel I am "safer" that way.)

After I am done on an Internet "session," I always make it a point to clear the history, clear the cookes, and clear the downloaded files or pages. I am using Internet Explorer 6.

Jim




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