How to Edit Windows Hosts File to Test Website Locally?


Let’s take a look at how to edit hosts document on Windows 10/11 to take a look at a website online in the neighborhood with out making DNS adjustments.

Hosts information act because the native DNS servers. But ahead of going additional, let’s take a look at this incident involving Jack.

Jack used to be a website online admin at a regional eCommerce retailer in Toronto, Canada. He used to be requested to make certain the switch to a distinct internet host is going easily.

He did it completely, and the website used to be reside quickly after DNS adjustments had been made. The simplest factor used to be lacking photographs from an important collection of merchandise.

While they mitigated the problem once conceivable, a couple of thousand greenbacks piled up as misplaced earnings. And Jack used to be requested to go away his activity.

His mistake, you ask?–Skipping a easy however a very powerful step to take a look at the brand new website online ahead of enhancing the DNS information.

Hosts File

Jack will have avoided the disaster via creating a unmarried line access within the host document on his Windows PC the usage of Notepad, identical to this:

This would’ve helped him to test the migrated website online with out touching the reside on-line retailer.

Hosts document helps to keep native DNS information each laptop tests ahead of contacting DNS servers. The goal is a quicker connection with out expanding latency.

How does Hosts File Work?

Let’s take every other instance.

Suppose you’ve gotten to cross to a newly introduced grocery store however are at a loss for words about its title and actual deal with. Keeping Google Search apart for a second, you’ll be able to seek the advice of your brother (host document) or a neighbor (DNS server).

The 2d way will contain additional time (latency), and asking the brother is faster.

Similarly, once we kind a website title (ex., our laptop being a device, wishes the related IP deal with to load the website online within the browser.

First, it searches the native host’s document. If it lacks the guidelines wanted, the question is handed on outdoor.

After that, the ones DNS servers fit the area title with the IP deal with and ship again the reaction. And in the end, we see the website online loaded.

By modifying the hosts document we trick our native device into believing the migrated website online is the reside one. It additionally avoids connecting our PC and the DNS server for that exact question.

So, once we discuss with that website online, it rather a lot from the IP deal with indexed within the host document and no longer as in step with the DNS information on the area registrar.

This is helping in checking out if the entirety is operating flawlessly ahead of going reside.

Editing Hosts File on Windows

Hosts document is situated within C:WindowsSystem32driversetc

hosts file folder

Although it lacks a textual content document extension, you’ll be able to edit this in any textual content editor. However, the method is just a little lengthy.

You will open this document in Notepad to make essential adjustments, reserve it in different places, delete the unique document, and in the end transfer the changed document in there.

But we’ll take a shortcut.

Start via opening Notepad as administrator.

using notepad to edit host file

Then click on All Files, then Open within the drop-down, and skim the hosts document listing:

hosts file folder

Now practice step one and alter it to All Files (*.*), as a result of there isn’t a textual content document within the folder, so it is going to really feel empty to start with.

Next, choose the hosts and click on Open.

The modifying host document phase contains coming into your website online title and server’s IP deal with to which you’ve moved the information:

hosts file editing

Remember no longer to put #, as this is able to make the observation a remark which gained’t paintings.

Finally, press Ctrl+S to save the adjustments and go out.


Now you’ll be able to go browsing to the website online and spot any problems.

But wait! How do you realize it’s loading from the brand new server and no longer the reside one?

To check that and test the brand new internet deal with, you will have to shut the browser first.

Then open the command suggested and sort. ipconfig/displaydns.

host file edit check in command prompt

The area title will probably be indexed in opposition to the Record Name and the IP deal with with A (Host) Record.

The displaydns checklist could also be lengthy, and you’ll be able to flush DNS to delete current information. This is a single-step, utterly innocuous procedure the place you open the command suggested and sort ipconfig/flushdns.

Finally, reopen the browser, and input the internet deal with to discuss with the take a look at website.

While the method used to be simple, there’s a more effective selection when you don’t thoughts the usage of freeware.

Hosts File Editor

Host File Editor comes as an set up and a conveyable utility. This may be very intuitive and will probably be to hand when you do that steadily.

hosts file editor

You can get started coming into the main points within the gray fields and click on save on the best. And yeah, don’t disregard to test the entries; else, they’ll display as feedback within the host document.

Lastly, you’ll be able to delete the information created via this utility if you select to return to the traditional manner.

There will probably be 3 named hosts.bak, hosts.disabled, and one archive folder. Or save the folder ahead of the usage of such packages as a backup.


Host document modifying in Windows simplifies website online checking out ahead of converting the DNS information. You can use a textual content editor akin to Notepad and make essential adjustments appropriate to the native device.

Though there may be differently to do it with a brief URL, that way has some drawbacks, particularly when you’re the usage of a content material supply community (CDN).

And whilst the screenshots refer to Windows 10, it is going to additionally paintings completely in Windows 11.

PS: Check out the deserves of DNS filtering and the way it can save what you are promoting from cyberattacks.


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