This guide shows you how to edit the hosts file in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 easily without any additional system tools. The hosts file is an important system file which maps the host/site names with its IP addresses. Basically it translates the hostname to IP and IP to hostname. So the browsing and accessing network places/shares by web site name or share name becomes quicker by avoiding DNS server requests. We can manually customize DNS name and IP address for specific websites in this file that will be helpful in several ways in Windows or Mac OS X. The hosts file is a plain text file without any file extension.
We used to modify this file by ‘edit’ DOS command in earlier Windows operating systems, but the edit DOS command is not included in Windows 8.1 and 10. You will get the following error message when you try edit command in Windows 10/8.1 command prompt.
“ ‘edit’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.”
This is because of edit DOS command requires 16-bit QBASIC.EXE which will not work on 64 Bit version of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. So how to edit the hosts file here? we can use the built-in Notepad program for this purpose.
Easily Edit the Hosts File in Windows 10 and 8.1
In Windows Operating Systems, the hosts file is located here,
C – is the drive of Windows OS in most of the cases. If your OS is installed in a different partition, then you need to change this letter.
Make sure you have administrative access/privilege on the computer before attempting to modify it.
Important Note: Some of the Antivirus software including Microsoft Security Essential (Windows Defender) will not allow modifying hosts file as a security precaution. This is to prevent hosts file modification by any virus, spyware or malware. If you face this issue, you need to disable the Antivirus software temporarily or exclude the hosts file from the protection.
1) Open the command prompt as administrator.
Search ‘cmd’ on Windows 10 or 8.1 and right-click on the Command Prompt and select ‘Run as administrator’. (This is an important step).
2) Type ‘cd drivers’ ENTER then ‘cd etc’ ENTER as shown below. This is to go to the location where the host file is located.
3) Make sure you are in the correct folder path, it should be C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc. Type ‘notepad hosts’ to open the file in notepad.
4) We assume that you know the content of the file. Type the IP address of the domain/hostname and name of it. You can see the examples in the same file.
Here is an example, if I need to block facebook on a PC, I can enter the wrong IP address and map it to facebook.com as we showed here.
Once you have modified the file with appropriate settings, click Save from File menu.
Important Note: If you haven’t opened the notepad from ‘Run as Administrator’ command prompt, then you can’t save the Hosts file as shown above.
If you are not good in using the command prompt, then this method will be handy in editing the hosts file in GU interface.
5) Open the Notepad application with administrative access. Right-click and ‘Run as Administrator’.
6) Browse the location of the hosts file, it’s under C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc. Change the file format to ‘All files’, then open the hosts file and modify the settings as you want.
7) Save the file once changes are done. You should have open the Notepad as Administrator to apply the changes.
By this method, we have avoided using the command prompt.
Since these changes are related to DNS, you can clear the DNS cache on your PC before checking the impact of hosts file modification.
Open command prompt, and type;
Why Modify Hosts file in Windows 10 or other Operating Systems?
This is an advanced user action and most of the time you do not need to touch the hosts file. Here are the possible scenarios you may need to modify it.
- Block a website by giving the wrong IP. So, the PC will get the IP from hosts file.
- You are testing a website which was migrated to a different host. Before changing the public DNS entries, you can modify the hosts file in your Windows 10 PC with the new web host IP and access the website by name from the browser.
- Unintentional changes by any programs or virus attacks to the hosts file and you need to edit and put back the normal settings.
- Manipulate the DNS entries. If you need to resolve a name to IP which can’t be done by the DNS servers. Then modifying the hosts file is the only one option.
Hope this guide is helpful in editing the hosts file on the Windows 10 and earlier Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.