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hosts file

Post by ssj100 on 24/3/2012, 06:09

This is something I've not been familiar with until recently. m00nbl00d has described some nifty tools related to it in the recent past. The first time I used it was to allow my IPSec rule to work when I did online banking. For the last few months, I've been enabling an IPSec rule on-demand every time I bank online. This rule blocks all connections except connections between my IP address and the bank's sole IP address via TCP, Port 443. For whatever reason, this rule is not reliable (meaning I can't even connect to the bank's IP address) unless I bypass DNS lookup for the bank's IP address by using the host file. This has worked very nicely.

I'm now testing the use of the hosts file to block "Unwanted Parasites":
http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

So far, I've been impressed - it almost makes me feel like one of the main functions of NoScript has become obsolete.

So what are your experiences with this? One thing I'm wondering about is this:
Editors Note: in most cases a large HOSTS file (over 135 kb) tends to slow down the machine.

To resolve this issue (manually) open the "Services Editor"

Start | Run (type) "services.msc" (no quotes)
Scroll down to "DNS Client", Right-click and select: Properties - click Stop
Click the drop-down arrow for "Startup type"
Select: Manual (recommended) or Disabled click Apply/Ok and restart.
The list of blocked sites/domains from MVPS amounts to about a 500kb hosts file. I'm just reading about "hpHosts" which provides a list that amounts to about a 7Mb hosts file. Has anyone noticed slow-down of their system/web-browsing from this? I'm still experimenting to see if I notice any myself. I'm on Windows XP, and so far, no noticeable slow-downs with the 500kb MVPS hosts file (running a rather old Core 2 Duo processor).

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Re: hosts file

Post by ssj100 on 27/3/2012, 10:33

After using the MVPS hosts file for a couple of days, I can say that there is a slight slow-down when visiting certain web-sites (particularly those with ads that get blocked), and perhaps an even more subtle slow-down in general surfing.

One thing I've noticed is that when I disable the DNS Client service, my general internet browsing subtly speeds up on average. For some sites (like bbc.com), the speed up is more significant - before, I often had to wait something like 5-10 seconds before the bbc.com site appeared to start rendering. Keep in mind my computer is not on a server.

With the MVPS hosts file, I like how there is universal blocking of ads across any browser I use. For example, I use IE 8 from time to time and I'm now noticing all ads blocked without the use of any third party extensions.

I've also noticed that replacing "127.0.0.1" with "0" in the hosts file seems to speed things up even more. Here's an excerpt of my current hosts file:
0 fr.a2dfp.net
0 m.fr.a2dfp.net
0 ad.a8.net
0 asy.a8ww.net
0 abcstats.com
0 a.abv.bg
0 adserver.abv.bg
0 adv.abv.bg
0 bimg.abv.bg
And here's the original MVPS hosts file:
127.0.0.1 fr.a2dfp.net
127.0.0.1 m.fr.a2dfp.net
127.0.0.1 ad.a8.net
127.0.0.1 asy.a8ww.net
127.0.0.1 abcstats.com
127.0.0.1 a.abv.bg
127.0.0.1 adserver.abv.bg
127.0.0.1 adv.abv.bg
127.0.0.1 bimg.abv.bg
So the end result of all this is that I have faster internet browsing than before (where I pretty much had an empty hosts file and the DNS Client service enabled) with less ads. I don't know exactly why internet browsing is faster, but it's a nice side effect of all this!

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Re: hosts file

Post by blues on 27/3/2012, 18:49

Supposedly it's faster because the ads don't get a chance to load and slow down your browsing. That's what I've read on their sites in the past.

I was using HostsMAN for years to manage a custom subscription compiled from MVPS Hosts, Malware Domains and hp Hosts "ad tracking" but I've since stopped using the hosts file since I get similar/redundant protection via some of the security apps in my signature as well as Firefox extensions.

I did notice that on my wife's older XP Pro machine, that disabling the hosts file made a big difference in her computer's performance. But again it's an older setup with low RAM which she uses primarily for email and a bit of surfing.

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Re: hosts file

Post by ssj100 on 28/3/2012, 01:30

blues wrote:Supposedly it's faster because the ads don't get a chance to load and slow down your browsing. That's what I've read on their sites in the past.
Yes, in theory, that could be one reason. However, for me, I'm not noticing faster loading of web-pages (normally) heavily riddled with ads. I'm actually noticing (very subtly in some instances) faster loading of some web-pages in general. A good example is the bbc.com site. As I said before, I used to have a waiting time of 5-10 seconds before the page actually started rendering. Now the page starts loading very quickly (~1-2 seconds) and the general rendering of the page is also much quicker than I remember it. I suspect this may be more related to disabling the DNS Client service rather than anything else.
blues wrote:I've since stopped using the hosts file since I get similar/redundant protection via some of the security apps in my signature as well as Firefox extensions.
I'm very impressed with the MVPS hosts ad-blocking ability. I don't care about "malware blocking" at all, as my security setup/approach takes care of that. I find myself using IE 8 quite frequently (just fits in well with my security setup/approach), and I don't want to install any third party extensions with IE 8 - the MVPS hosts file seems to be the way to go.
blues wrote:I did notice that on my wife's older XP Pro machine, that disabling the hosts file made a big difference in her computer's performance. But again it's an older setup with low RAM which she uses primarily for email and a bit of surfing.
I don't understand why a large hosts file would impact the actual computer's performance. In my readings, it seems to only impact on web browsing speed - however, I have disabled the DNS Client service and my web browsing speeds have actually improved compared to when I wasn't using the hosts file.

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Re: hosts file

Post by blues on 28/3/2012, 01:46

The DNS Client Service is and has been disabled on her setup.

I guess it is what it is. I'll squeeze what I can out of it and then get her something newer probably sooner than later.

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Re: hosts file

Post by Guest on 28/3/2012, 05:13

A few more sources to block ads & trackers:

User blues already mentioned hpHosts ad/tracking servers list, which you can get it from here: -http://hosts-file.net/ad_servers.asp or here: -http://updates.it-mate.co.uk/hphosts/ad_servers.asp

Cameleon: -http://sysctl.org/cameleon/hosts.win

@ ssj100

You could use either HostsMan (the latest beta version is quite good already) or the PowerShell script I mentioned in one of my threads before, and they will allow you to optimize the hosts file and place 9 entries per line.

That will also reduce the size of the hosts file and reduce the time needed to read the lines as well.

I also use a hosts file to block ads and trackers. I used AdBlock Plus for a while, but regardless of the fact it stopped working with Chromium sometime ago (it's working again), it used too much memory. I'm not running a machine on steroids, so using a hosts file is really a good alternative. Plus, this way I'm not adding any additional attack surface in the system, by using some other third-party application either.

I'd say 99% of the ads are blocked; the only ones not blocked are first-party ads, which are hosted in the main domain name, which obviously I cannot block. Laughing

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Re: hosts file

Post by Guest on 28/3/2012, 05:18

-edit-

HostsMan actually has those hosts file as sources. But, considering you need administrative privileges to modify the hosts file, HostsMan needs to run with such permissions as well, and that means it will download the files from the Internet using administrator privileges.

So, I'm not allowing HostsMan to connect to the Internet. I manually download the files and have changed the sources in HostsMan to the local files.

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Re: hosts file

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