Step 1: view this image:
Step 2: read these links:
Step 3: remove from your mind ANY thoughts you might have had about EVER installing this heap of garbage. Not even Satan would touch this with a 10-foot pole, and neither should you. There's a reason they are giving it away "free". (Hint: it isn't out of the goodness of their corporate hearts)
But, if you're a masochist and really have to use the thing, or you already made the dive and can't go back (bless your soul), I've also done an extensive update to my Microsoft hosts file blocklist.
The Microsoft hosts file blocklist:
Aug 28, 2015: Found a few more spy servers that I added to the list.
Aug 21, 2015: Went trough some big web access logs and added about 800 more entries to the list.
Aug 12, 2015: Added nearly 1000 more entries to the list that I scraped together from various forums and domain searches. Lots more Bing crap added.
Aug 9, 2015: After a long hiatus, the news of Windows 10's massive privacy invasiveness has renewed my interest in maintaining the MS hosts file. I've just done a major update to the list, so get it now.
Following the Snowden revelations, I figure more people are looking for ways to prevent big, intrusive corporations like M$ from harvesting their data. There are SHITLOADS of apps and services in windows 7, 8, and 10 that phone home, and while I doubt this list covers everything, it contains several thousand M$ domains that I've scraped from all corners of the internet and/or caught with my firewall.
Please note that Micro$haft has a hidden whitelist inside the dnsapi.dll system file, so blocking by host name might not be entirely effective. You could hack dnsapi.dll, which I wouldn't advise unless you know what you're doing. Or, you could set up a DNS proxy to intercept all Microsoft domains. I use Acrylic DNS proxy myself. It has its own hosts file that supports wildcard rules, so instead of needing thousands of entries that end in microsoft.com, you can just add *.microsoft.com and kill em all. :)
OR, save yourself the agony entirely and look into installing a tasty flavor of Linux known as Mint. It can do nearly everything windows can, faster, and without the complementary virii and BSODs.
Another tasty flavor of Linux is Zorin OS. This one is nicely laid out and does a good job emulating the Windows user experience. Can switch between Windows 7 and Windows XP layouts. Includes a nice "dark" theme for people like me who get sore eyes from staring at glaring white backgrounds all day.
Windows 7 updates to NEVER install
Recently M$ has even attempted to sabotage Windows 7 users by issuing a number of "important" updates that add all kinds of tracking spyware and change your system files for the sole purpose of "preparing" your system for Windows 10. If you made the wise choise of sticking with Windows 7, you obviously won't want any of this rubbish on your system. So, I give you my list of Windows updates to NEVER install:
KB2952664 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10 (sends a bunch of telemetry data to M$, reported to corrupt system files besides)
KB2976978 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10
KB2977759 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10 (sends a bunch of telemetry data to M$)
KB2990214 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10
KB3014460 - affects windows 8 only
KB3021917 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10
KB3022345 - installs diagnostic tracking service, reported to corrupt system files
KB3035583 - pitches the free Windows 10 upgrade (Gwxux.exe - Get Windows X -10- exe) - Malware by most definitions
KB3044374 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10
KB3050265 - supposedly fixes an issue with windows update, but also changes system files to support upgrade to Windows 10
KB3050267 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10
KB3065987 - makes "improvements" to the windows update client (probably just more Win10 bullshit)
KB3068708 - installs telemetry service, prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10
KB3075249 - adds more damn telemetry
KB3075851 - makes "improvements" to the windows update client (probably just more Win10 bullshit)
KB3080149 - adds more damn telemetry
KB2999226 - run-time environment for Windows 10 store apps. Massive bloatware
KB3083324 - yet another "improvement" for the Windows update client. Like we haven't heard that before.
KB3083325 - yet another "improvement" for the Windows update client (windows 8 only)
KB3083710 - prerequisite for Windows 10 upgrade that is being foisted on Windows 7 users.
KB3083711 - yet another "improvement" for the Windows update client (windows 8 only)
KB3102810 - yet another "improvement" for the Windows update client. Like we haven't heard that before.
KB3112343 - makes changes to prepare for upgrade to Windows 10.
KB3123862 - Yet more Windows 10 nagware.
KB3135445 - Yet another "improvement" for the Windows update client.
KB3138612 - Yet another "improvement" for the Windows update client.
KB3139929 - Windows 10 nagware disguised as a "security" update. Even I didn't expect M$ to stoop this low.
KB3146449 - Windows 10 nagware disguised as a "security" update. Even I didn't expect M$ to stoop this low.
KB3150513 - prepares system for upgrade to Windows 10
Update: If you've already got any of these on your system and want a quick, easy way to remove them, this guy wrote a simple batch script to instantly remove the offending updates: https://blockwindows.wordpress.com/
Note that Micro$haft is attempting to censor his script from the web, and even deleted his Github page twice!! If that doesn't tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about the current state of M$, and why you should NOT trust any of their new products, I don't know what does.
uTorrent / Bittorrent, Inc hosts file blocklist
Fed up with how crappy and bloated uTorrent has become? If you're like me and still using uTorrent 2.2.1, you probably HATE how the program is always trying to sneak updates through behind your back, no matter how many times you tell it not to. Well, use this list and kiss all that trouble goodbye. The list also blocks all the ads and tracking servers used by the new versions.
I should also mention, you can get the last good version of uTorrent from this wonderful place called OldApps.com: http://www.oldapps.com/utorrent.php?old_utorrent=8134
This is the last bloat-free, ad-free release, and is supported by virtually all private tracker communities. Simply put, all the 3.x versions of uTorrent suck big moose balls. Use anything below 3.0 and you're good to go.