What Does LMHOSTS File Mean?

The LMHOSTS file is short for the “Local Area Network (LAN) Manager Hosts File”, is a plain text file that that resolves a domain host name to an IP address. The LMHOSTS file does not have a file extension and is only used when a WINS server is unavailable.


Techopedia Explains LMHOSTS File

LMHOSTS Files have been replaced by the WINS naming system. “LAN Manager” was an early Microsoft network operating system (NOS).

The LMHOSTS File’s location varies from one OS to another; it is most easily located using a Windows search for the “lmhosts.sam” file (an LMHOSTS sample file). If present, it may be found in the following locations:

  • Windows XP, VISTA and 7: C:WindowsSystem32driversetc
  • Microsoft Windows 98: C:Windows
  • Microsoft Windows 2000: C:WinntSystem32driversetc

The file can be opened with a simple text editor program and then edited or read as needed.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…