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The LMHOSTS file is a text file used in Microsoft Windows operating systems to map NetBIOS names to IP addresses. It stands for LAN Manager Hosts file and is primarily associated with older versions of Windows, such as Windows NT and Windows 95/98. Here are some key points about the LMHOSTS file:

  1. NetBIOS Name Resolution: NetBIOS is a protocol used for communication between devices on a local network. NetBIOS names are alphanumeric identifiers assigned to network resources, such as computers or printers. The LMHOSTS file provides a means to resolve NetBIOS names to corresponding IP addresses.
  2. Predecessor to DNS: Before the widespread use of DNS (Domain Name System), the LMHOSTS file was commonly used for name resolution on Windows-based networks. It provided a way to associate friendly names (NetBIOS names) with the corresponding IP addresses.
  3. Text File Format: The LMHOSTS file is a plain text file without any file extension. It typically resides in the Windows system directory (e.g., C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc) and can be edited using a text editor.
  4. Mapping NetBIOS Names: Each entry in the LMHOSTS file consists of a NetBIOS name, its corresponding IP address, and optional keywords or flags. Multiple entries can be added to the file, each on a separate line.
  5. Name Resolution Process: When a NetBIOS name resolution request is made, the system first checks the LMHOSTS file for a matching entry. If a match is found, the associated IP address is used for communication. If no match is found, the system may proceed with other name resolution methods, such as WINS (Windows Internet Name Service) or DNS.
  6. Keywords and Special Characters: The LMHOSTS file supports certain keywords and special characters to provide additional functionality. For example, the “#” character is used to indicate comments, and the “&” character is used to indicate a domain controller.
  7. Security Considerations: Editing the LMHOSTS file requires administrative privileges. Additionally, modifying this file manually may not be necessary in modern network environments where DNS or WINS provides efficient name resolution.

It’s important to note that with the advent of DNS and improvements in network infrastructure, the usage of the LMHOSTS file has become less common. However, in legacy systems or specific network configurations, the LMHOSTS file may still play a role in NetBIOS name resolution.

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