I am running a Windows 7 X64 HP laptop that has two users configured, one for my wife and one for myself. I also run a Microsoft 2003 web server providing access to three web sites, www.greenmountvillage.org.uk, www.tottington-dcs.org.uk and www.networking-consultancy.com and a Windows XP desktop. I have configured my "hosts" file on the HP laptop to provide internal access to my web sites. My broadband router provides the routing of external access to the web sites. I can access all three web sites from my wife's user on the laptop and from my desktop. I can access the first two web sites from my user on the laptop. When I try to access the third web site from my account on the laptop, I am directed to the log in to my broadband router. I have checked the IP packets generated by my laptop when this request is made and it appears that the web site name resolves to the external IP address of my broadband router, suggesting that the name is being resolved by the external DNS rather than by the hosts file. As a retired telecommunications consultant with 40 years of IT support experience, I expected to be able to resolve this problem but after several hours of investigation and checking I am at a complete loss to explain why everything worked fine up to a couple of days ago and now I am faced with this peculiar problem.
If I'm understanding this right, you want internal machines to be able to query DNS and have the web server's internal address returned? (My assumption is based on your usage of the hosts file.)
If you already have a Server 2003 machine providing web services for these 3 sites, why not add DNS functionality and have the DHCP server point your internal computers at the internal DNS server? Create 'A' records for the 3 websites and define the address as the internal address for each site. The DNS server will forward requests for any other site that it doesn't have records for.
Thank you for your answer. I never did get to the root of this particular problem. I assume it was some corruption in one of the Windows 7 routines. I ended up rebuilding Windows 7. Since then I eventually discovered that one of the two memory slots on the motherboard (or possibly the motherboard itself in respect of the memory slot) is faulty abd I am now running on 1 x 4 GB memory board instead of 2 x 2 GB boards, having rebuilt Windows 7 yet again. The laptop is now perfvorming well, except for one small hiccup for which I posted another question very recently and one which has resolved itself after a reboot of the laptop. As an aside, now I have purchased Acronis True Image, I hope never to need to rebuild an OS ever again, having imaged my 2003 server, my XP desktop and a spare Windows 7 tower system to spare hard drives.