Hosts Block is a free program for the Windows operating system that has been designed to protect the hosts file and update it regularly with lists of blocked malicious, adware or spyware domains.
The program has been designed with ease of use in mind. Simply install it on your Windows PC and it will run quietly in the background for the most part.
The application adds an icon to the Windows system tray which you can use to open its interface and control some of the features it makes available.
The interface displays the current version of the hosts file. There you will notice that it is based on the MVPS Hosts file, and also find the total number of blocked websites of the current list version.
All blocked domains are displayed in the interface, and it is there that you may edit entries or add new ones to the listing.
The interface works like any other text editor which means that you can edit entries directly or add new ones using the keyboard.
The main toolbar lists several options that the program makes available. There you find options to run an update check, back up the list for safe keeping, or to manage the list of exclusions or custom entries.
Last but not least, commands list several useful options such as flushing the DNS cache, disabling the Windows DNS client, or opening the hosts file directly.
You may also want to check the settings at least once as they provide options to add another list to the hosts file, configure the update frequency or startup behavior.
The second list you can add in the program is the MDL (Malware Domain List) hosts file. Other options are to change from using 0.0.0.0 to 127.0.0.1 for the blocking, setting the hosts file to read only, or disabling the program's active protection feature that prevents changes to the hosts file that come from outside sources.
There is also an advanced menu that you can use to add custom hosts file. Up to five hosts files can be added this way by adding the url to the hosts file to the application.
The program indicates whether it can access a hosts file directly in the interface, and the linked hosts file needs to be of the .txt file type.
So how does Hosts Block fare against the established and popular HostsMan? HostsMan does not require the Microsoft .Net Framework while Hosts Block does. Functionality wise, features that you expect to be offered by a hosts manager are included in both applications.
HostsMan is a mature program on the other hand offering several features that Hosts Block does not right now. For instance, it ships with support for additional lists out of the box, features useful tools that let you replace IP addresses or re-order the hosts file, or may auto-flush the DNS cache after updates.
Both hosts manager are well designed however, and it seems that Hosts Block is on a good way to feature parity with HostsMan.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.