A HOSTS file contains a number of entries for domain to IP address resolutions at the local level. It is found in all the operating systems. By using the hosts file we can save the time that would have been wasted in contacting a remote DNS server. We can also use this file for blocking a domain name by setting its associated IP address to an invalid IP address such as 0.0.0.0 etc. Since the hosts file is a plain text file, we can manually edit it using any text editor such as Microsoft Notepad, UltraEdit or Notepad++.
But when it comes to managing multiple hosts files, editing them, updating them, merging them or switching them with that of the system, using a text editor is not enough. This is when we have to use program like SwitchHosts. It is an open-source program that works on Windows, Linux and macOS. Using this program we can manage, edit and switch several hosts files efficiently.
As we launch SwitchHosts, it displays the system hosts file which is located in C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc folder as far as Windows is concerned. On a Linux system, it can be found inside the \etc\ folder. If you want to add another hosts file in SwitchHosts, then you can click on the “add” button and then a local or remote file. We can also add group or folder containing hosts files.
For fetching a fresh version of a remote hosts file, we can set it to auto-update at regular intervals. We can also fetch the latest version of a remote hosts file manually. Any of these hosts file can be exported and then imported into another hosts file. This way we can set the system hosts file to be any of the different versions of hosts file that we are managing using the SwitchHosts program.
In the preferences of SwitchHosts program, we can set the update mode to be either append or overwrite. We can also choose for the removal of the duplicate entries from the hosts file. For the visual appearances we have a choice of dark or light themes.
SwitchHosts is a unique program for editing hosts file however it could be confusing as it does not let directly switch between the hosts files. Rather, we have to use the export and import menus to make changes ourselves. But it is very careful and opens all hosts files in read-only mode and prevents accidental changes made to them.
You can download SwitchHosts from https://github.com/oldj/SwitchHosts.