As a consultant building multiple web applications, especially solutions built with the Sitecore Experience Platform, I would spend too much time adjusting entries in my C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts file. If you are unaware of what the hosts file is, you can find out all about it and it’s history in this Wikipedia article: wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosts_(file). Some time ago I started implementing what should be a simple standardization best practice: all my local development sites utilize a common top level domain – .local instead of .com. I have seen others use .dev and any other non-typical top level domain would work just as well.
After a while I began to wish I could just utilize wildcards in the HOSTS file and have one entry, but alas, the current HOSTS file cannot support wildcards. Since I know how long it might take Microsoft to add what seems like a simple feature, (probably never), I spent some time looking for a way around this and found an excellent Open Source solution in Acrylic DNS Proxy server.
With just a few minutes of setup and utilizing a top-level domain standard approach as a best practice, such as *.local, I no longer have to modify my HOSTS file. I hope this helps saves you some time as well.
Microsoft as you work on your recently announced Windows 10 there is still time to add the ability to utilize wildcards within the HOSTS file. I hope you will take this into consideration and add this feature, as it would be an excellent improvement for Developers, Developers, Developers.
Then we would simply add 127.0.0.1 *.local and never have to add another entry again. Heck, even stick with the moniker *.localhost and we would practically never have to edit the HOSTS file again.
Update 10/29/2014: You can help vote for the feature now too: