This is just a quick recommendation for two servers that you might find useful in your development environment.
Acrylic DNS Proxy
Acrylic is a caching DNS proxy. You tell it where your real DNS servers are (provided by your ISP) and it will contact them when you need to look up an internet address. Then it saves the look up locally so subsequent looks ups don’t have to go any further than your own machine.
The main reason I’m using it though is that it can handle wildcard domains, which makes it a great replacement for the Windows ‘hosts’ file. You can add entries that look like:
This can be useful in a development environment if you have a Multi-site WordPress you develop, or if you like to set up different virtual hosts for different projects. It saves time spent adding new subdomains to your WordPress site.
Once you have it installed click the shortcut ‘Edit Acrylic Hosts File’ to add your local domains. Tip: Windows might highlight ‘Edit Acrylic Configuration File’ in your start menu after install. You’ll want to edit that too but it isn’t where you add the local domains. That stumped me for a second until I realized there was a second shortcut for editing the hosts file.
You will also need to tell your internet connection to use the new server, at 127.0.0.1, instead of the one your ISP provides. Follow the guide here.
hMail Server is a nifty little SMTP server for windows. I picked it because it is very easy to set up, and can accept requests for multiple domains. It also has features that mimic Google mail features, which is what I use on my live site.