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How to disable the irritating ads in AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)

New versions of AOL instant messenger get worse and worse. I don't mind a little advertising along with my free instant messenging service, but the advertisements that automatically play sound (and even the ones that play sound on mouseover) are too much. They start playing at annoying times when you forget that your speakers are cranked and commit other computer sins. Fortunately, its a simple hosts file tweak to disabled the advertisements altogether.

These instructions assume you are running AOL Instant Messenger on Windows XP. All versions of windows have a 'hosts' file that can be tweaked in this way, I'm not sure offhand if the location varies however. These instructions also assume that AOL is still using the same advertising servers as they were when I wrote these instructions. If they change those these instructions will cease working. However, the concept still applies if you can determine where the new adservers are located. I just used Ethereal to sniff the traffic, its only the work of a few minutes if you are familiar with that utility.

To get rid of those annoying ads (with sound) in AOL instant messenger (AIM) on Windows XP.

127.0.0.1        bannerfarm.ace.advertising.com
127.0.0.1        ad.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1        twx.doubleclick.net

The result: (personal information erased) Witness ye grand empty white block!