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What Is Host File?

The hosts file in Windows is like an address book for your computer. It is loaded into memory (cache) when Windows starts and associates host names, such as www.google.com with IP addresses, such as 74.125.224.72 for Google. The IP address is like the telephone number for that site. However, so we don’t have to remember a string of numbers for every site we want to visit, we enter easy-to-remember host names.

Because the computer uses IP addresses to find sites, it needs to translate the host name for a site into an IP address. If the IP address for a site is in your hosts file associated with a host name, your computer can use that to “call” the site when you enter the host name in your browser’s address bar. If not, your computer must contact a DNS (domain name server) computer on the Internet for the IP address before it can contact the site.

Initially, there are no host name/IP address associations in the hosts file. Examples of the format and layout of the IP addresses and host names are listed in the comments in the file.

If you add host names and their associated IP addresses into the hosts file for sites you visit often, access to those sites becomes faster. Your computer doesn’t have to query DNS servers on the Internet to get the IP addresses for those sites. If there are any sites that don’t have a domain name, you can enter the site’s IP address in your hosts file with a custom domain name which can serve as a “shortcut” to the site.

So how can you use a HOSTS file in Windows? Well, websites can collect various types of information about you as you surf the web. The hosts file can help block sites from tracking you, as well as block ads, banners, third-party cookies, and other annoying parts of web pages.

Each computer has a host address of its own, known as the “localhost” address. The IP address for localhost is 127.0.0.1. This can be used to block sites serving ads or objectionable content by entering a site’s host name in the hosts file and associating it with the localhost IP address. That refers the host name to your own computer, which then thinks it found the site and displayed it already, even though that site was never actually contacted.

 

What Is Windows MAC Address

Do you need to figure out what your MAC address is? I’ll explain how to do that in this article!

So what do you need to do to get your MAC address? It’s pretty simple actually! Let’s start off with getting a PC MAC address:

  • Click on Start and then click Run. In the text box, type in CMD. Click OK.
  • In the DOS window (the black box), type in the following without the quotes: “ipconfig/all” and press Enter.

You’ll notice a lot of stuff that might not make sense! Basically, this command gives you all the information for any network card in your system including the wired (Ethernet) network adapter, bluetooth adapter, any virtual adapters and the wireless adapter. So you’ll have to look under the specific heading you need because each adapter will have it’s own MAC address.

The MAC address is usually the last item in the list for each adapter and it’s called Physical Address. You’ll see a set of pairs of numbers separated by colons, i.e. 09:F2:96:3E…etc. This is your MAC address for that particular adapter.

You can then use the MAC address in your router settings if you are setting up MAC address filtering, which allows you to specify only certain devices that can connect to your WiFi network. Note that every device connected to your network has a MAC address including smartphones, printers, etc.

OS X Mac Address

If you have an Apple computer like a Macbook or Mac Mini, you can get your Mac address following the steps below.

  • Open System Preferences and click on Network.
  • Click on the connection that you want the MAC address for and then click on theAdvanced button at the bottom right.
  • Then click on the Hardware tab and you’ll see MAC Address written right at the top.

 

Tips To Get Windows Installation Media For Free

Sooner or later, you’ll need to repair, refresh, or reinstall Windows — a task that will require your original Windows installation/setup files.

But most new PCs no longer come with classic Windows setup discs; the vital recovery files are typically stored on the hard drive — where they are vulnerable to loss or damage.

Some PC manufacturers include a small utility on their new machines that lets you create setup/installation discs. But these factory images often put back the adware, co-marketed software, branded tools, and other crapware that originally came with the systems.

Fortunately, there’s now a better option. Because of changes in the way Microsoft distributes Windows setup files, all Windows 8 and Windows 7 users — and some Vista users — can now download copies of the full, free, official, 100 percent legitimate Windows install/setup files.

These “virgin” Windows setups are free of OEM add-on software. Moreover, their installation files can be burned to DVDs or copied to flash drives, which can then be used to repair or refresh a Windows system — or, if needed, do a total, from-scratch reinstall of Windows on an empty hard drive.

Windows setup medium doesn’t replace making regular backup images of your system — it is, however, a vital component of your PC-maintenance toolkit.

Microsoft’s new source for Windows ISOs

IT professionals can acquire ISOs via a pricey (around U.S. $700 and up) MSDN subscription, which includes downloads for Windows and other MS software such as Office and Windows Server. And in the past, everyone else could download Windows ISO images via a relatively low-cost TechNet subscription or from online services such as Digital River. Anyone with a legitimate Windows product key could use these ISOs to create a full, complete Windows setup.

But in late 2013, Microsoft shut down its TechNet subscription service; then, last month, it pulled its ISOs from Digital River.

So, what’s a Windows user to do? This article will show you where and how to obtain full, legitimate setup files for Vista, Win7, and Win8.

First requirement: A valid product key

None of the download methods I’ll discuss lets you upgrade from, say, Win7 Home editions to Win7 Pro — or create a bootleg copy of a Windows edition. In some cases, you’ll be required to enter the key before the download step even begins. (Losing product keys can be costly; always keep them in a safe place.)

So before you do anything, find and make note of your current Windows product key. You’ll usually find it on a sticker affixed to the PC, or on the original installation medium (or its packaging), or on ordering info or the receipt.

If you’ve lost records of the key, or if you have one of the newer Win8 PCs that store the product key in the BIOS (not the Registry, as do previous Windows versions), you can use a key-finder tool to dig it out.

 

 

Windows 10 OS

As with any product that’s still in development, running Windows 10 Technical Preview has risks. The safest and easiest way to install and work with the preview of the next Windows is within a virtual machine — here’s how.

VPCs are not only safe and simple to set up — you can run them on just about any operating system. And in this case, both Windows 10 Preview and the virtual PC software are 100 percent free. Best of all, running in a VPC, Windows 10 Preview presents essentially no risk to your primary (host) system. It’s as if Win10 were installed on its own, separate, physical PC!

The three major steps to get everything going

These steps assume that you don’t have virtual-PC software already installed. As with that earlier Windows 8 article, we’ll use Oracle’s VirtualBox. Not only is it free, but it’s highly capable and relatively easy to set up. (Note: VirtualBox is updated frequently. If you already have it installed, now is a good time to get the latest version.) The steps are:

  • Download and install VirtualBox on a standard PC;
  • Use VirtualBox to create a new virtual machine that’s optimized for running Win10 Preview;
  • Download Win10 Preview and install it on the new virtual machine.
  • Before you begin, some important preliminaries

The requirements for running Win10 Preview inside a VirtualBox VPC are relatively modest. The vast majority of today’s PCs, running any current version of Windows — Vista, Win7, or Win8 — will likely meet or exceed the minimum specifications.

Here’s what you need:

  • At least 3GB of system RAM: Win10 Preview needs at least 1GB of RAM, VirtualBox needs about another 512MB, and the host system typically needs at least another 1GB or so. Add a skosh more memory for shared system functions. It’s better to have more than 3GB of RAM — the typical PC sold today comes with 6GB to 12GB. (To quickly check your system’s installed memory, click Start/Control Panel/System. In the System section, look for the heading “Installed memory [RAM].”)
  • A minimum 30GB of available disk space: Win10 Preview needs about 25GB of free space plus another 4GB or so for the Win10 installation file — but as with RAM, more free drive space is always better. (You will, of course, get that space back when you delete the Win10 VPC.) The Win10 virtual machine doesn’t need to reside on your primary (C:) drive, but this will make the setup process a bit easier.

Hardware-virtualization support: Almost all PCs sold in recent years feature built-in, hardware-level support for the kind of virtualization used by VirtualBox (and similar VPC/VM products). But older systems might not have this needed feature.

Windows MAC Address

Do you need to figure out what your MAC address is? I’ll explain how to do that in this article!

So what do you need to do to get your MAC address? It’s pretty simple actually! Let’s start off with getting a PC MAC address:

  • Click on Start and then click Run. In the text box, type in CMD. Click OK.
  • In the DOS window (the black box), type in the following without the quotes: “ipconfig/all” and press Enter.

You’ll notice a lot of stuff that might not make sense! Basically, this command gives you all the information for any network card in your system including the wired (Ethernet) network adapter, bluetooth adapter, any virtual adapters and the wireless adapter. So you’ll have to look under the specific heading you need because each adapter will have it’s own MAC address.

The MAC address is usually the last item in the list for each adapter and it’s called Physical Address. You’ll see a set of pairs of numbers separated by colons, i.e. 09:F2:96:3E…etc. This is your MAC address for that particular adapter.

You can then use the MAC address in your router settings if you are setting up MAC address filtering, which allows you to specify only certain devices that can connect to your WiFi network. Note that every device connected to your network has a MAC address including smartphones, printers, etc.

OS X Mac Address

If you have an Apple computer like a Macbook or Mac Mini, you can get your Mac address following the steps below.

  • Open System Preferences and click on Network.
  • Click on the connection that you want the MAC address for and then click on theAdvanced button at the bottom right.
  • Then click on the Hardware tab and you’ll see MAC Address written right at the top.

Things That Microsoft Should Change For Windows 10

If there is one thing we know about Windows 10, it is that the Start menu will not be missing this time. Microsoft, which reveals more details about the latest iteration of its operating system later today, needs to get at least that right after the miscalculation of Windows 8.

The new operating system, the first under new boss Satya Nadella, replaces the unpopular Windows 8, an operating system that was arguably ahead of its time. Replacing the Start menu with the Start screen, big interactive tiles, slide-out menus and full-screen apps all made Windows 8 great on a touchscreen device, but frustrating at best on a desktop or laptop with a keyboard and mouse.

An update, Windows 8.1, revived the Start button, but did little to convince users to upgrade, resulting in poor sales of the now two and a half year old operating system. Windows 7 accounts for 56% of the desktop computer market, according to Netmarketshare data, leaving Windows 8 and 8.1 languishing on just 15%. Even the now 14-year-old Windows XP is still running on 18% of desktops despite no longer being supported by Microsoft.

Window 10 doesn’t have to beat Windows 8 – it has to entice consumers and business users to upgrade from Windows 7 given that the days of routine upgrades are long gone.

The desktop

Windows 10 must have a solid, reinvigorated desktop experience. Previews of the operating system indicate Microsoft understands that this is the crucial piece of the puzzle that could dissuade businesses from upgrading if it gets it wrong.

Wanting to improve the desktop experience is perfectly understandable, but it must remain familiar and easy to use. Most business users will simply want software like Microsoft Office to work fast and efficiently. The same goes for home users, who could be instantly put off by something that doesn’t vaguely resemble their ideas of how a computer should work.

However, it must also function well on tablets, hybrid touchscreen computers and smartphones. Microsoft’s “continuum” promises to do just that by detecting whether a keyboard and mouse are attached and presenting the right interface for the device.

 

VS2012 Launched: Regular Updates at Shorter Interval to Be Expected

stroke_general_check_mark_256Visual Studio 2012 of Microsoft has its first major update and coders should expect regular updates at shorter intervals from now on. According to Somasegar, this update doesn’t just fix bugs but added features also delivers a wealth of new functionality into Visual Studio 2012.

The want to build Windows Store apps for Windows 8’s new Start Screen is on which obviously means that the new features are designed to aid developers of such. Features of the VS2012 Update 1 includedebugging support, improved diagnostics and testing support for Windows Store apps. More to this update is stationery code analysis for Windows 8 Phone apps.

Update is also about Microsoft’s latest platforms- it enables C++ developers to target Windows XP from within VS2012, which means they can now use a single tool chain to build applications for a broader range of systems. Important thing to note though, in order for Visual Studio 2012 to run it requires Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2012.

For the thrilled users of Windows out there, here’s some good news for you, the update is available now as a free download for all versions of Visual Studio 2012, via a web installer. If you need more help in installing or whatever else you might need help of regarding this new update, a helpful blog post from Microsoft’s Rob Caron also explains how to create a standalone installer for updating systems offline. Try downloading it’s free version and experience it yourself!

As mentioned above, regular updates at a short interval is to be expected now. Somasegar gave no hint as for when the next update for VS 2012 will be arriving. However, we might see another update as early as February next year. So let’s stay tuned!

Window’s Quests against Viruses

10584698_s-200x133After Windows 8 have disclosed to the public its basic anti-malware protection, creators of eval antivirus products are up and ready to criticize Microsoft’s efforts to keep its operating system safe and secure. There are 16 percent of the most common malware families that can easily infect Windows 8 that is even after activating the Windows Defender according to the test ran by Romanian antivirus vendor Bitdefender. There were 61 of 385 malwares which Bitdefender used that actually compromised the Microsoft OS. One of the software was actually able to bypass Windows Defender but crashed on execution, while other ran but was eventually blocked by User Account Control (UAC), so delivery of malicious payload failed. The malware that successfully broke through Windows Defender was capable of accessing backdoors to allow hackers to take control remotely and access the attacked x86 PC, intercepting keystrokes, stealing online gaming credentials and the list goes on.

Bitdefender had an interest in talking up the security failures of Windows 8 as it touts its personally paid-for-virus zapping packages. However, malwares collected in the last six months was what the company used which is actually not ideal. The test sample won’t encompass every threat there is, according to the technical director at Dennis Technology Labs, Simon Edwards. From time to time, every antivirus product will fail to catch some software nasties despite what marketing departments’ business talks would have us believe. Bitdefender also tests the malwares by picking up a copy of malicious code from an internal FTP server and allowing it to function to see how far the malware can go instead of visiting a booby-trapped web page that tries to compromise your PC, which is also the most common way of infecting.

 

Microsoft Surface Beats Samsung in Display Tests

The battle of tablets continues to live on – and it seems like Microsoft Surface is on its way to the top. The display of the surface has performed well in the tests, edging out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, even beating Apple’s iPad 3 in a few categories. In a shoot-out by display testing firm DisplayMate Technologies, the Surface has outperformed all the standard resolution 10-inch tablets. This is what DisplayMate Technologies President Raymond Soneira said in a research note. Further, it was said that the on-screen text is much sharper with better factory display calibration and lower screen reflectance.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57548780-94/microsoft-surface-edges-out-samsung-in-display-tests/?part=rss&subj=news&tag=title

Microsoft’s Updated Compatibility Website

So you have just upgraded to the new Windows 8. But will your printers, keyboards and all your other hardware work with it? You can get your answers from Windows but it seems that they have only provided little help when it comes to this concern. It is a good thing that they now have an updated compatibility site that will give you all the answers that you need.

The newly upgraded Windows Compatibility Center for Windows RT website will shed light on the compatibility of certain peripherals. Users will just have to input the mane or brand of any hardware and get the answer that they need if this will work with Windows RT devices.

During the Windows 8 launch, Windows President Steven Sinofsky has announced that the Windows RT is compatible with about 420 million hardware devices, although the company has only specifically talked about printer compatibility in the past, particularly on “class drivers”. Looking at the site, Windows 8 users will be relieved to know that the Microsoft Surface might work with other peripherals, in contrast to what the Microsoft Surface website saying that it is compatible with hardware that is certified for Windows RT.

To date, the compatibility site shows that there are a number of existing hardware that have been found to not work with Windows RT while there are those labeled as “limitedly compatible”, which means that there are some features of the hardware that Windows cannot support. Generally, though, Windows RT is able to support the most basic add-ons, all thanks to its generic drivers that are able to support whole classes of devices.

There are talks on Windows adding more peripheral compatibility to the Windows RT but only time will tell if they actually do so. For now, you might want to head on to the website and see if your peripherals will work.