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Blocking ads for free
Friday, October 08, 2004

This entry may sound like all the empty promises of ad blocker software vendors, however, my way is free and is based on a solution that requires no software nor any install of any kind.

The internet and the web are one the few marvels that came out of the 20th century. In one occasion, my Distributed Systems professor and I (University of Waterloo) discussed briefly how the whole infrastructure miraculously works and how fragile the whole system is. Of course, this is an over simplification of the whole infrastructure behind the theory and hardware necessary to make networks work. There is amazing CS, Engineering and Mathematics behind it all.

If you are interested in a small part of the theory, you can google the OSI reference model and find around 369,000 links discussing OSI.

Anyway, I mentioned the theory behind the internet to introduce the solution I use to block ads of all kinds - I have to mention that it has been around for quite a while, however, I don't think people know the details. So, I'm offering the solution in just a couple of steps:

Step 1
Read this site: Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File, but don't install anything from that site (If you want, you can, but I wouldn't as I said that the solution I'm presenting doesn't require any software installs).

Step 2
Create your own hosts file with the content from here: Mike's hosts file. Use your favorite text editor and remember to name the file "hosts" - No extension.

Step 3
Place the hosts file you created in Step 2 noting your Windows version - The location is important:

  • Windows 2000 - C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC
  • Win 98/ME - C:\WINDOWS

Why would you want to do this?
The main reason you want to do this, is to surf the internet faster, as ads take a lot of bandwidth to download those annoying images - This is a big plus, if you still use a dial up connection. Also, it can save you a few headaches with virii and adware, as some of this programs are installed via pop ups and ads which contain JavaScript code or something similar.

I've been using it for a while, and I really don't think I'm missing much by not seeing all those ads - I'm almost certain, that you wouldn't miss much either.

How does it work?
By design, machines connected to any TCP/IP network can use domain names as opposed to IP addresses to connect via the network - The engineers of the system thought of it this way: it is easy to remember "," rather than ""

So, any TCP/IP enabled machine (If your computer has a network card, it is likely TCP/IP enabled), first goes to this "hosts" file in your computer and looks up the domain name you are looking for and translates the human readable name to a real IP address.

If you notice closely, all the entries in the hosts file (From Step 2 above), all point to "" - Which is a loop back address to point everything to the local machine - Again, something the creator of the technology thought it would of some use. It means that your machine alone is still a network - A network of one. I.e. A network with one node, is still considered a network, as far as your TCP/IP hardware is concerned. Therefore, everything that should come from all those ad servers, likely images, is routed back to and the requests never leave your machine, thus, saving you bandwidth and making your internet experience much faster.

On a side note, given the ".com" 90s, the originators of the system never thought how popular their idea would become. I.e. is considered to be one of the most valuable internet real state around - I know, real state that doesn't exist, except for a few lines stored in some database somewhere - Turn the power off, and, poof - It's all gone - I did say that the whole system is extremely fragile.

11:35 PM | 0 comment(s) |


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