Toggling your HOSTS file

I use my laptop (a highly-recommended Toshiba Portege M100) for most of my development work. Typically, I develop on my laptop (a sandbox environment), then push data to another server (either a staging or production server). One of the problems I run into is my ever-changing physical location. When I’m at home, certain Web sites need internal IP addresses; at other places, they need external IP addresses.

The solution to this problem is by toggling the use of your HOSTS file. I enterd all the static entries into my HOSTS file, and created a small batch file to “toggle” the HOSTS file on and off. (When the HOSTS file exists, it is used, so renaming it to something other than HOSTS – with no file extension – turns it “off”.)

The batch file for toggling the HOSTS file is:

if exist c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts goto :hosts_off
ren c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts.toggle hosts
goto :end
ren c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts hosts.toggle
goto :end
ipconfig /flushdns

The batch file simply changes the file from hosts to hosts.toggle and back again. The command ipconfig /flushdns is executed at the end to ensure the DNS cache is flushed.

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