Your Hosts file is kind of like an address book of sorts. It may contain the IP address for certain web sites you visit. But for the most part, your ISP will provide the IP address automatically so your Hosts file may not be used. Sometimes the HOSTS file will contain entries that you do not want or need. When this happens, you may no longer be able to view a particular web site that you have previously viewed 100′s of times before. Though this is rare, it does happen, and when it does you will be pulling your hair out trying to figure out what is wrong.
What brought this to mind were two forums I recently visited in which similar problems were posted. Web sites that the users have gone to forever, now would not come up. They would get the ‘this site can’t be displayed’ error that tells the user absolutely nothing. Over a dozen comments were posted in which everything from recycle the router/modem to try another browser, all of which came up with the same results. Nothing.
Someone suggested taking a look at their Hosts files and sure enough the sites were being blocked. Once the entries were cleared, all was well. One of the sites I usually recommend for Hosts files help is located here. There is plenty of information on how to edit Hosts files, stopping spyware and other general points of information.
Read the FAQ section for known problems before doing any modifications to your system.
[tags]hosts, file, modifications, error messages, web site, help, [/tags]