Using the “hosts” File

Hosts file in edit mode.

The hosts file is used to map hostnames (in other words domains) to IP addresses. With the hosts file you can change the IP address that you resolve a given domain name to. This change only affects your own computer without affecting how the domain is resolved worldwide. This is particularly useful when you wish to see how a website will look like when hosted on a different server without making any DNS changes to your domain.

The location of the hosts file, depending on the operating system that you are using, is:

  • Windows, your hosts file is most probably: C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts)
  • Linux – /etc/hosts
  • Mac OS X – /private/etc/hosts

To set this up, all you do is use a text editor and use admin privileges as needed to edit the file. From there, we use the following layout:

  • <yourIpRedirect>    <yourDomain.com> <www.yourDomain.com>
Examples:
  • 0.0.0.0    webfm.com www.webfm.com
  • 127.0.0.1    webfm.com www.webfm.com
  • 192.168.1.8    webfm.com www.webfm.com
  • 172.217.5.4    webfm.com www.webfm.com

It’s worth noting that you can not add an IP port here and some names you give as the domain don’t always redirect if you’re going to a site than sinking it to your localhost address. Also, if you have a local server, simply append the port to the domain when accessing it. So, http//webfm.com; via the browser would look like:

  • http://webfm.com:<portNumber>
That’s it, this is a quick rundown of the hosts file and how it can be used.

Servers
Quick Test Server