Accessing a site without changing the nameserver through the hosts file

Published by Ana Rednic on 2018-Oct-25
In this tutorial we will follow the steps necessary to access the site hosted on a server without the need to change the nameservers, using the hosts file of the operating system
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  • The hosts file of the operating system provides the ability to access hosted sites on a server without the need for a DNS server or to change domain nameservers. It can also be used for development purposes if we do not own the domain, but we have a hosting.


  • In order to use the hosts file of the operating system, we will need the IP on which the domain we want to access is hosted  and the location of the hosts file.
    The hosts file is located at the following locations depending on the operating system used:
    c:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts - Windows
    /private/etc/hosts - Mac OS X
    /etc/hosts - Linux


  • In this tutorial we will use the Windows operating system as an example. To edit the file, we will start the Notepad text editing application (with administrative privileges) or any other text editor (we recommend Notepad ++) and open the hosts file by clicking File in the top bar, then Open. In this case, we will open the file in the path c: \ Windows \ System32 \ Drivers \ etc \ hosts (the letter c: \ the disk may differ depending on the location of the operating system installation). We will ensure that Notepad has the All Files (*. *) option on the right of the File Name field to view all file types.

  • Once the file has been opened, we will add the following lines:
    SERVER_IP_ADDRESS    domainexample.xx 
    SERVER_IP_ADDRESS    www.domainexample.xx 
  • As an example, we will use the hostico.net domain hosted on the server with IP In this case, we will add the following lines to the hosts file and save the changes made:     hostico.net     www.hostico.net   
  • The above mentioned IP and domain are just an example. You will have to use the domain and IP associated with your hosting account. You can find the IP addres of your webhosting account in the email sent by us, uppon activating your services.

hosts file

  • Several domains and subdomains can be added to the hosts file leading to different servers (IPs), the functionality being the same.
  • In the next step, we will open a browser and test whether the domain is being loaded from the server that we want. It is recommended to clear the browser cache before you try.

If after reading and following the steps outlined in the article you are unable to successfully complete the described task or action, or if you have additional questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact Hostico.

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