I was just wondering, I keep on seeing other posts telling them to either modify hosts/lmhosts/*.sam files. What are these files for, I know they're for networking for windows, but what exactly are they? I', just very curious..
The hosts file has it's origins in UNIX. Basically, if you don't have a local DNS server on your network and want to be able to access/ping/etc. other machines by hostname instead of using their IP, you can edit your hosts file and manually add the entries, so name resolution works without a DNS server.
Example hosts file:
# This is my example hosts file.
# I only have 3 machines on my tiny home network.. 192.168.0.5 Machine1_hostname 192.168.0.10 Machine2_hostname 192.168.0.15 Machine3_hostname
So now if you ping Machine2 from Machine1, name resolution will appear to take place.
You can also use the hosts file to block certain websites by making them resolve to localhost, which is useful for blocking ad sites (doubleclick, etc.):