Even though VLC Media Player is an excellent video player application for Windows (and other platforms), some organizations insist on not using it. This is because they want the students to use only their own proprietary media player which has certain limitations. They check if someone’s laptop is connecting to VLC Media Player’s website for checking for the updates and this is how they find out if VLC is installed or being used. We can disable the VLC update checks using the hosts file to avoid all these problems.
Here is how you can disable VLC Media Player update checks using the hosts file on Windows:
- First of all we have to open an elevated command prompt. For this, click on the Start button in taskbar, type cmd and then choose Run as administrator. It is necessary to use the elevated command prompt for editing the hosts file.
- In the elevated command prompt type cd c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc to change the directory.
- Then type notepad hosts to open the hosts file in the Windows Notepad.
- In the hosts file, add a new line beginning with 0.0.0.0 update.videolan.org and then save the hosts file by using the Ctrl+S hotkey.
- Now if you try to check for updates in VLC Media Player, it will fail to check for the updates. In order to manually check for the updates, you can select Help and then Check for Updates from the menubar.
Another way of disabling the update checks through the Windows Firewall settings itself. We can block VLC Media Player binary file (vlc.exe) in Windows Firewall so that it cannot connect to the internet. Then it will not be able to successfully check for the updates.
While these methods work, it should be mentioned that you should not disable the automatic update checks for VLC Media Player as the updates patch some possible vulnerabilities. Without the updates, you will keep using an old vulnerable version of the software. Only under very special situations, we might disable the updates and only on a temporary basis.