Monday, June 18, 2007

Ad free Windows Live Messenger

It's actually very simple. Windows Live Messenger get's all it's ad information from a host called rad.msn.com (remote advertisement?) and since it's possible to tell Windows to look up invalid IP addresses through the host file, one can quickly get rid of the ads in Messenger.

You need administrative privileges for this, and if you are running Vista with UAC enabled you need to make sure you launch both Notepad.exe and Cmd.exe with elevation (Shift right-click them in the start-menu and choose run as administrator).

  • First, find you host file, Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista) is located in %SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc by default.
  • Second, open Notepad.exe as administrator (and with elevation if you use Vista and UAC) choose File > Open... and navigate to the host file (make sure you show all files) and open it. It's called "hosts" without a file extension.
  • Now add the following new line at the end of the file: "0.0.0.0 rad.msn.com". Save the file and close Notepad.

It will tell Messenger to look up an invalid IP address for ads, and thus display no ads. You need to flush the DNS cache for this to take immediate effect, and it can be done by opening the command prompt Cmd.exe (as administrator) and type "ipconfig /flushdns". If you wait long enough Messenger should stop displaying ads but the quickest path to salvation is restarting Messenger as well.

Enjoy your Ad free Windows Live Messenger.

43 comments:

John said...

Q: Most of you guys probably have a router, just block rad.msn.com using an URL blocking filter.

A: An excellent suggestion. However, it might still not work. The approach described here will return a valid DNS query response but an invalid IP address and its the failiur to connect to that address which is making Messenger not display any ads.

Anonymous said...

A "URL blocking filter" would block the http request, it can be placed also on the some routers or more likely the proxy server.

Comms people prefer the proxy server.

John said...

Yes, and I didn’t said It wouldn't work (it might not work). This is however two technically very different things and I wouldn't recommend the latter. When the IP number is invalid within the OS the application is interrupted before creating that request. Thus less strain is put on your overall system.

What you’re doing is clogging your network with trash, and putting unnecessary load on your network router. Even if these performance implications are negligible, I consider this router stuff to be a lesser choice because it's not a preemptive solution, it’s just a system built around another to filter a certain behavior.

If you have no other choice, then by all means use a router, but if you can, use the host file to block hosts instead.

Anonymous said...

works great, thanks for the url to block whatever the method used

shinigamiboi said...

yea it works .. GREAT :D

Anonymous said...

Genius! Works a treat and involves no patching. Don't know hy I didn't think of doing that myself.

P-A said...

Thank you! This works perfectly.

Anonymous said...

You are my new god

Anonymous said...

You rock! This worked like a charm!

Gabe said...

Great!!

JCF said...

it worked i think man, thank you very much. But a live messenger logo replace the ad, is normal?

John said...

@JCG - Yes, when MSN can't find any ads to display the logo is displayed instead.

Anonymous said...

Nice ! Thanks .

Anonymous said...

This method also works on Windows Live Messenger 2009.
Thanks!

John said...

This method works as long as the rad.msn.com host doesn't change. The blocking of that host at operating system level is not in any way tied to any specific MSN Messenger version, it will continue to work as long as MSN Messenger relies on ads retrived from rad.msn.com.

Anonymous said...

works for the bottom ad but the ads on left column still stands. thanks anyways.

John said...

It might take some time before you see the effect. I do not know what you mean by left ads still there, I no longer use Messenger and I'm not aware of any ad mechanism in Messenger other than rad.msn.com.

Anonymous said...

Ads on the left column, are you sure? i have never seen ads at the left, just at the bottom.

Ben said...

The ads you refer to in the left-hand column can be disabled in Messenger itself. Tools-options-tabs-hide tabs.

Thanks for this John! It would be great to get rid of this whole bar at the bottom where the ads were, but this is the next best thing.

Woshmistro said...

It works, but now its crashes whenever the winks, emotions and background tabs are clicked

John said...

Of course it works ;) but I highly doubt that Messenger crashing has anything to do with the changes made to the hostfile. No IM or for that matter personal information (like winks and emoticons) is published through the rad.msn.com gateway. I recommend you try to reproduce this error on a different machine or re-install Messenger first. I've used this trick for many years and on many different machines without ever experiencing any problems.

Anonymous said...

Yay~ Thank u sooo much the ads were getting so annoying and now their gone (without patching too)!!! I love you, ur my hero! <3

Dan said...

Although the original post is 2-years old, this still works like a charm in the latest version of WLM and Windows 7.

Awesome, thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome!

It worked for Windows Live Messenger

How to remove Windows Live Messenger Ads Banners

Sreekanth Menon said...

Thanks a lot for this workaround.
Really appreciate

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Was sceptical if this ad removal fix would work as POST is quite old.
Pleasantly surprised that it does still work. Thank you for this little Gem of info :)

John said...

The Internet pretty much works in the same way today as it did 20 years ago. And people constantly leave comments on this page that it's still a reliable fix.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that cos those ads on windows live messenger were really starting to piss me off

Bobba said...

Good work. A very useful little trick.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you John. It works but for some reason it hangs and I have to kill it. It does not make any sense but it does it. I will keep on trying. I have Windows 7 pro and messenger live 2009 14.0.8089.726
Thank you so much for this tip. ;)

John said...

I can't say why it would hang, I need more information for that but it doesn't make sense it shouldn't be able to affect Messenger like that, likely it's something else that's causing the hang, like a third-party plug-in. I'm using the latest Messenger with Windows 7 and I have not been having any problems with it so far.

Jon said...

Much thanks!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU. That is all.

Ruud said...

I can concur what the previous Anonymous said: I use Messenger version 2011, 15.4.3502.922).
When applying this host-file trick, MSN will hang itself when you try to chat.
Alternative: A-Patch ?

Anonymous said...

Hey, this thing is not working for me. I tried to save the file but it says that "cannot create the file" and so i dont know what to do
am i doing it incorrectly or what.
anyway, just want to know, its not working.

John said...

If you're having problems with editing the file you need to make sure that you can work around the UAC. You'll need to have administrative privileges or some way to elevate notepad/explorer otherwise this wont work.

Anonymous said...

worked 4 a while, but Ads are back
(maybe microsoft has changed uri)

Tim L. said...

I tried it today and it still works.

Anonymous said...

I tried it today and it still works.

OPHII said...

Allo John n_n. . .

I have a problem T_T.

And I hate to bump this for you, but I'd REALLY like this solved ;

I run windows 7, with Windows Live Plus -you know, the MSN with a bunch of extra features.

My account on this computer is administrator.

I can't edit the file.

Or, I can edit it, and add the line, but I can not save it :/.

So is there anyway to get around that? Or am I pretty much SOL?

_ _ _

P.S. My girlfriend linked me to this, good job with the tutorial and 'luck with future exploits (y)

John said...

You can always read the file, but without elevated privileges you will not be able to save the file.

Do you mind following the instructions either way, just to make sure that the process (notepad.exe) is really running as an administrator?

John said...

If, (for some reason) the file is inaccessible because it's locked by other processes you can always boot in fail-safe mode (this will disable a lot of features in windows) make the change and reboot. This all depends on what's running on your computer.