Note for business users:
This site was written primarily for home users. If you wish to use this on your corporate PC, I urge you to check with your IT department to see what their policies on this are, if they have any. Also, by changing your Hosts file, you need to be sure you are not deleting any entries in the existing Hosts file that may be necessary for your PC to work properly on the company network. Some entries may be in your Hosts file that are needed for your computer to use company resources. DO NOT remove any entries in the Hosts file or change it without contacting your IT department.
Note for all users:
This method has been shown to work properly on the majority of users' PC's. I can not, unfortunately, guarantee that it will work on all PC's. I hope that it will work for you, but I must urge you to make backups of your system before you try anything new to prevent the loss of your data. If you have further questions, please see the FAQ section, which will be updated as often as new questions come up and can be entered.
Note for Linux/Unix users:
Also, this Hosts file uses the same format as the BSD Unix version 4.3 Hosts file, and so you should be able to use it without many modifications if you run an Unix or Linux system. The file would go into your /etc/hosts directory in this case.
Note about browsing speed for Netscape users:
Netscape takes longer than Microsoft's Internet Explorer to accept that it will not be getting an image from the ad servers you have blocked using the Hosts file. This means that Netscape will pause longer before it loads the page, because it is expecting something to come from the ad server. Also, Netscape would expect something to come from any server you choose to block in the Hosts file.
To remedy the Netscape speed problem, I suggest that you run the eDexter progam provided on this site. eDexter will send images of its own from the hard drive in order to make the browser think it received the ad or other item it was looking for from the site you blocked. This will make the pages load much faster and you still won't be communicating with the blocked servers. Read more about eDexter and how it works on the eDexter page and in the FAQ.
Note for your consideration:
The hosts.txt files are provided as examples. I do not wish to imply that you should block all of the servers in that list. Whether you block those servers or not is a personal choice, but the example file is provided as a way for you to see what servers are out there that you could block if you wanted to. You may then decide to block all of them, some of them, or none of them - but the choice is strictly up to you. Also, not every ad server on the Internet is in the list, and so you may want to add your own to the list, or remove some from the list that you want to see ads from. Again, this list is an example file from Stephen Martin's site, and you can use it however you see fit.
If you want to unblock any or all servers on the list, simply remove them from the list. To remove ad servers from the list, open the list in Notepad and delete the lines pertaining to the servers that you do not want blocked.
If you want to use the Hosts file with your own list entirely, then download this file and follow the instructions in it.
One final note for those concerned with their privacy:
Just to reiterate, if a server is not in your Hosts file, nothing from it will be blocked and it may still try to profile you, send cookies, etc. If you discover a server that is doing this and is not in your Hosts file, you may add an entry for that server yourself to block communication with it. The Hosts file is one quite good method to help secure your privacy, but it is only one of many steps you should take if you desire total Internet privacy. To see more about privacy concerns, I recommend that you visit Privacy.net and take further steps to secure your privacy in addition to the Hosts file.