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Thread: Hosts files

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Hosts files

    I have been running Spybot regularly for some while and I always go through the Immunize routine when it is updated.
    I use Firefox 3.5.1 as my browser and for a while now it seems to take ages to load. Looking through related posts here has got me wondering about a possible hosts file problem. I have looked in Drivers\etc and see that I have about 56 Hosts files!
    I'm really not clear what their function is. Should I regularly delete these as they are updated?
    I also run SpywareBlaster - is this also adding to Hosts files?
    I would really appreciate some guidance. I have read that the DNS service thingy should be stopped but this old codger doesn't feel confident enough to try that!
    Would someone please advise the proper course of action.
    I am running Windows XP Home, SP3.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DougCuk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    London UK


    There will only be one file called simply "HOSTS" - this is the live version.
    The only version that a browser will load is this live version - all other files will be ignored.

    But there may be many backup files with names like "hosts.20090724-201540.backup".
    I think Spybot creates these backups each time it updates the Hosts file.
    These backup files can be removed - although you might want to keep a few of the more recent versions.

    SpywareBlaster doesn't use or modify the Hosts file - although it can create an encrypted backup version - which it creates in its own program folder.

    You can tell if the Hosts file is causing the slow response from Firefox by temporarily renaming the Hosts file - any change to the name will stop it loading - as long as you restart your browser to reload the list. If the Hosts file is causing the problem check the size of the file - the current Spybot enhanced version is 312KB - any bigger and you may have other additions from some other security program.

    I'm not sure if the DNS Client Service fix affects Firefox - I only use Internet Explorer - but it may be worth testing if the Hosts file appears to be causing the slowdown. It really is not difficult to do and easy to reverse.

    To disable the cache you need to switch off the DNS Client Service - either via the Control Panel->Administrative Tools->Services route or more simply by using the Run option from the StartMenu (if enabled) - just enter Services.msc at the Run prompt. You then locate the DNS Client Service in the list - double click that item and then click the Stop button - then change the Startup Type to Manual - this is active immediately, no need to restart. Any problems then you just turn it back on - the easiest way is to change the Startup Type back to Automatic and restart the computer.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006


    Thanks for that very useful reply DougCuk.
    It was very good of you to let me have such interesting detail so that I can begin to understand what's going on.
    Very much obliged to you.

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