The HOSTS file in Windows, Linux and Mac is used to locally map the website addresses to their IP addresses. For example, when you type trishtech.com in your web browser, it first checks your HOSTS file and if trishtech.com is found there, it uses that IP address for connection. If it does not find a matching entry in HOSTS file, then it queries the DNS server. This feature can be used to block malicious and inappropriate web sites on your computer. The free software Hostsman can automatically download and update your HOSTS file from the well known sources like MVPS Hosts, hpHosts etc. to block known malicious, phishing and attack sites.
You can download Hostsman from the Abelhadigital website. The download ia available both as a portable application and also in form of an installer. After the installation, it would place an icon in the notification area. You can double-click on the notification area (system tray) icon to open the Hostsman widnow. First thing you should do is select the update sources. To do so, click on the Select Sources button as shown.
This would open a new window where you would be able to see many different types of HOSTS file sources. As you click on the sources, their description is displayed in the right-side panel. You can select one or more of the sources, but if you select more than one source, then it would make your HOSTS file huge and your internet browsing might become slower. For protection against malicious domains, it is suggested that you select Malware Domain List and then click on the Close button.
Back in the Hostsman window, you can click on the Check for Updates button to connect to the selected HOSTS source website for new updates. If new updates are found, it would ask you if you want to download new updates. After your confirmation, it would download and install the updated HOSTS file and merge it with your existing HOSTS file. You would be shown a message that the Hosts file was updated successfully.
If you have set Hostsman to update automatically, then it would not bother you and check for updates by itself. The latest updates would be downloaded and installed without any user intervention. You can turn on the automatic updates from the Hostsman window, by clicking on the Disabled link and turning it into Enabled.
Hostsman has many more features other than automatic updating. You can enable or disable the HOSTS file itself by clicking on the big green ‘H’ button. When this button turns into red, the HOSTS file is disabled. You can also use the Ctrl + H hotkey to toggle the HOSTS file on or off. Hostsman also allows you to manually edit the HOSTS file if needed (select Hosts → Open with Notepad from the menubar). It has a backup manager which keeps the backups your HOSTS file everytime a change is made to it, this way you can revert back to the older versions of HOSTS anytime you want.
Hostsman is a complete HOSTS management solution for Windows. It works on almost all the versions of Windows – from Windows 98SE (if someone still uses it) to Windows 8. So if you are still stuck with manually editing your HOSTS, then get a copy of Hostsman and let it handle all the HOSTS updating troubles.
You can download Hostsman from http://www.abelhadigital.com/hostsman.