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How to Set Up and Use a "hosts" File

Page 2

(Brief explanation of how the web works coming up--I apologize to anyone that thinks the next few paragraphs contain all-too-common knowledge or are simply too basic...) The world wide web is comprised of servers all over the world. Each of those servers is known by something called an "IP Address." IP stands for "Internet Protocol." All of the various websites that you visit have their own number. Well, humans aren't computers, of course, and many would find it hard to keep track of all those numbers for all of the sites they like to visit. And imagine how hard it would make it for advertisers--"Visit us on the web at!"

So we use names instead. When you type a name of a website into your browser, that name gets translated into a number, and that number is used to locate the server that hosts the website you want to view. Where does your browser get the number? From a Domain Name Server, or DNS Server. Your browser knows where to look for a domain name server because you entered those settings (or someone did!) when your internet connection was hooked up. You can check right now--open your "TCP/IP" control panel and notice that you have one or more entries under "DNS Servers."

Without DNS servers, you wouldn't be able to browse the internet by typing web address names into your browser. Sure sounds like a good way to keep kids from viewing things that they shouldn't. Removing the DNS entries from your TCP/IP setup effectively removes access to the World Wide Web.

Without DNS numbers, the kidders can't get to porn. But how to get them to Cartoon Network to play PowerPuff Girls games? That's where the hosts file comes in.

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