Remove HotStartSearch.com virus (Removal Guide)

HotStartSearch is a browser hijacker, which is promoted via other free downloads, and once installed it will change your browser homepage and default search engine to http://hotstartsearch.com.
This in itself is not considered malicious as there are many legitimate programs that change these settings as well. What is considered malicious, though, is that it will also append the argument hotstartsearch.com to random Windows shortcuts on your desktop and your Windows Start Menu.
HotStartSearch will display advertisements and sponsored links in your search results, and may collect search terms from your search queries.
[Image: HotStartSearch virus]
HotStartSearch got on your computer after you have installed a freeware software (video recording/streaming, download-managers or PDF creators) that had bundled into their installation this browser hijacker.
For example, when you install vPlay, you will also agree to change your default browser homepage to HotStartSearch.com
However, when you uninstall vPlay from your computer, your web browser’s default settings will not be restored. This means that you’ll have to remove HotStartSearch.com from your favorite web browser manually.

You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as this HotStartSearch hijacker. Be very careful what you agree to install.
Always opt for the custom installation and deselect anything that is not familiar, especially optional software that you never wanted to download and install in the first place. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.

HotStartSearch.com Hijack – Virus Removal Instructions

STEP 1 : Uninstall HotStartSearch program from your computer

BasicSeek is installed on users computer with other free programs like video recording/streaming, download-managers or PDF creators, therefore we will need to uninstall HotStartSearch from your computer.

  1. To uninstall HotStartSearch program from your computer, click the Start button, then select Control Panel, and click on Uninstall a program.
    If you are using Windows 8, simply drag your mouse pointer to the right edge of the screen, select Search from the list and search for “control panel“. Or you can right-click on a bottom left hot corner (formerly known as the Start button) and select Control Panel from there, then select Uninstall a program.
    [Image: Uninstall a program]
  2. When the Add/Remove Programs or the Uninstall a Program screen is displayed, scroll through the list of currently installed programs and remove recently installed application. This application is rarely listed as HotStartSearch in the currently installed programs list.
    [Image: Uninstall HotStartSearch program]

Please note that on some computers these programs might have a different name, search for any program developed by HotStartSearch and uninstall it from your computer.
Because HotStartSearch.com is installed with other additional programs, we recommend that you search and uninstall any other unwanted or unknown programs from your computer.


STEP 2 : Remove the HotStartSearch residual damage from your browser

HotStartSearch has installed a browser extension, and has changed your homepage and default search engine to to HotStartSearch.com.

Remove HotStartSearch redirect from Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click on the gear icon [Image: icongear.jpg] (Tools for Windows XP users) at the top (far right), then click again on Internet Options.
    Internet Options in IE
  2. In the Internet Options dialog box, click on the Advanced tab, then click on the Reset button.
    Reset Internet Explorer
  3. In the Reset Internet Explorer settings section, check the Delete personal settings box, then click on Reset.
    Internet Explorer back to its default settings
  4. When Internet Explorer finishes resetting, click Close in the confirmation dialogue box and then click OK.
  5. Close and open Internet Explorer.

Remove HotStartSearch redirect from Mozilla Firefox

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click the Firefox button, go over to the Help sub-menu (on Windows XP, click the Help menu at the top of the Firefox window), and select Troubleshooting Information.
    Firefox Troubleshooting Information
  2. Click the Reset Firefox button in the upper-right corner of the Troubleshooting Information page.
    Firefox default settings
  3. To continue, click Reset Firefox in the confirmation window that opens.
  4. Firefox will close and be reset. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click Finish

Remove HotStartSearch redirect from Google Chrome

  1. Remove HotStartSearch extensions from Google Chrome.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button on the browser toolbar, select Tools and then click on Extensions.
    Google Chrome Extensions
    In the Extensions tab, remove (by clicking on the Recycle Bin) the Proxy Tool and Flash Player extensions from Google Chrome.
    [Image: HotStartSearch Chrome extension
    NOTE: HotStartSearch.com may have added additional extensions which you will need to remove. We recommend that you remove any unwanted or unknown extensions from Google Chrome.
  2. Set Google Chrome default search engine from HotStartSearch.com to Google.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button, then select Settings and click on Manage search engines in the Search section.
    In the Search Engines dialog that appears, select Google and click the Make Default button that appears in the row.
    [Image: hotstartsearch Chrome redirect]
    Search for HotStartSearch in the Search Engines list, and click the X button that appears at the end of the row.
    [Image: remove HotStartSearch from Chrome]
  3. Change Google Chrome homepage from HotStartSearch.com to its default.
    HotStartSearch Search has modified your Google settings to open their webpage whenever you start your browser, so we will need to revert this change.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button, then select Settings and click on One the New Tab page in the On Startup section.
    [Image: Change Google Chrome homepage to its default]

STEP 3: Clean up the various Windows shortcuts that have been hijacked by HotStartSearch.com

  1. Search for your browser shortcut (Desktop, Taskbar or Start Menu Shortcut), then right click on it and select Properties.
    [Image: Firefox Shortcut properties][Image: taskbar shortcut hijacker]
  2. In the Shortcut tab, in the Target field, remove the http://www.HotStartSearch.com argument. Basically, there should be only the path to browser executable file. Nothing more.
    [Image: HotStartSearch shortcut hijack]

If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove the HotStartSearch.com shortcut hijack, you can download Shortcut Cleaner from the below link, and then you’ll just need to run this utility to fix your Windows shortcuts. When it is done, it will show you a log that contains a list of shortcuts that were cleaned.
SHORTCUT CLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new webpage from where you can download Shortcut Cleaner on your computer)


STEP 4: Remove HotStartSearch Search registry keys with AdwCleaner.

  1. You can download AdwCleaner from the below link.
    ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK
     (This link will automatically download AdwCleaner on your computer)
  2. Before starting this utility, close all open programs and internet browsers.
  3. Double click on adwcleaner.exe to run the tool.
  4. Click on Delete, then confirm each time with Ok.
    Adwcleaner utility
  5. Your computer will be rebooted automatically. A text file will open after the restart.
  6. NEXT, double click on adwcleaner.exe to run the tool.
  7. Click on Uninstall, then confirm with yes to remove this utility from your computer.

STEP 5: Run a computer scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

  1. You can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free from the below link, then double click on it to install this program.
    MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a download page in a new window from where you can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free)
  2. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the setup process. DO NOT make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave both the Update Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware checked, then click on the Finish button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware final installation screen]
  3. On the Scanner tab, select Perform quick scan and then click on the Scan button to start scanning your computer.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Quick Scan]
  4. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer as shown below.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scanning for HotStartSearch virus]
  5. When the Malwarebytes scan will be completed, click on Show Result.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan results]
  6. You will now be presented with a screen showing you the malware infections that Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has detected.Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image. Make sure that everything is Checked (ticked) and click on the Remove Selected button.
    [Image:Malwarebytes removing malware]

STEP 6: Run a computer scan with HitmanPro

  1. Download HitmanPro from the below link, then double click on it to start this program.
    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. HitmanPro will start and you’ll need to follow the prompts (by clicking on the Next button) to start a system scan with this program.
    HitmanPro installation
  3. HitmanPro will start scanning your computer for malware, as seen in the image below.
    HitmanPro scans for HotStartSearch virus
  4. Once the scan is complete,you’ll see a screen which will display all the infected files that this utility has detected, and you’ll need to click on Next to remove these malicious files.
    HitmanPro scan results
  5. Click Activate free license to start the free 30 days trial and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
    HitmanPro 30 days activation button

If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove HotStartSearch redirect from your machine, please start a new thread in our Malware Removal Assistance forum.

How to Stay Safe Online

Here are 10 basic security tips to help you avoid malware and protect your device:

  1. Use a good antivirus and keep it up-to-date.

    Shield Guide

    It's essential to use a good quality antivirus and keep it up-to-date to stay ahead of the latest cyber threats. We are huge fans of Malwarebytes Premium and use it on all of our devices, including Windows and Mac computers as well as our mobile devices. Malwarebytes sits beside your traditional antivirus, filling in any gaps in its defenses, and providing extra protection against sneakier security threats.

  2. Keep software and operating systems up-to-date.

    updates-guide

    Keep your operating system and apps up to date. Whenever an update is released for your device, download and install it right away. These updates often include security fixes, vulnerability patches, and other necessary maintenance.

  3. Be careful when installing programs and apps.

    install guide

    Pay close attention to installation screens and license agreements when installing software. Custom or advanced installation options will often disclose any third-party software that is also being installed. Take great care in every stage of the process and make sure you know what it is you're agreeing to before you click "Next."

  4. Install an ad blocker.

    Ad Blocker

    Use a browser-based content blocker, like AdGuard. Content blockers help stop malicious ads, Trojans, phishing, and other undesirable content that an antivirus product alone may not stop.

  5. Be careful what you download.

    Trojan Horse

    A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware—programs or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather.

  6. Be alert for people trying to trick you.

    warning sign

    Whether it's your email, phone, messenger, or other applications, always be alert and on guard for someone trying to trick you into clicking on links or replying to messages. Remember that it's easy to spoof phone numbers, so a familiar name or number doesn't make messages more trustworthy.

  7. Back up your data.

    backup sign

    Back up your data frequently and check that your backup data can be restored. You can do this manually on an external HDD/USB stick, or automatically using backup software. This is also the best way to counter ransomware. Never connect the backup drive to a computer if you suspect that the computer is infected with malware.

  8. Choose strong passwords.

    lock sign

    Use strong and unique passwords for each of your accounts. Avoid using personal information or easily guessable words in your passwords. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts whenever possible.

  9. Be careful where you click.

    cursor sign

    Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. These could potentially contain malware or phishing scams.

  10. Don't use pirated software.

    Shady Guide

    Avoid using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing programs, keygens, cracks, and other pirated software that can often compromise your data, privacy, or both.

To avoid potential dangers on the internet, it's important to follow these 10 basic safety rules. By doing so, you can protect yourself from many of the unpleasant surprises that can arise when using the web.

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