Start Search is a browser hijacker, which is promoted via other free downloads, and once installed it will change your browser homepage to start-search.com and default search engine to search.yahoo.com.
The start-search.com homepage will display advertisements and sponsored links in your search results, and may collect search terms from your search queries. The start-search.com hijack is used to boost advertising revenue, as in the use of blackhat SEO, to inflate a site’s page ranking in search results.
Start Search it’s technically not a virus, but it does exhibit plenty of malicious traits, such as rootkit capabilities to hook deep into the operating system, browser hijacking, and in general just interfering with the user experience. The industry generally refers to it as a “PUP,” or potentially unwanted program.
Start Search is an ad-supported (users may see additional banner, search, pop-up, pop-under, interstitial and in-text link advertisements) cross web browser plugin for Internet Explorer (BHO) and Firefox/Chrome (plugin) and distributed through various monetization platforms during installation. The browser extension includes various features that will modify the default or custom settings of the browser including the home page, search settings and in some cases will modify Internet Explorer’s load time threshold, place a lock file within Firefox to prevent competing software from changing its settings as well as disable the browser’s Content Security Policy in order to allow for cross site scripting of the plugin.
Start Search homepage 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 browser homepage to start-search.com and default search engine to search.yahoo.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 start-search.com homepage 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 start-search.com browser 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.
How to remove start-search.com (Virus Removal Guide)
This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove start-search.com from your Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, STOP and ask for our assistance.
STEP 1: Uninstall start-search.com malicious programs from your computer
STEP 2: Remove start-search.com virus from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome
STEP 3: Remove start-search.com browser hijacker from your computer with AdwCleaner
STEP 4: Remove start-search.com virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
STEP 5: Double-check for the start-search.com infection with HitmanPro
STEP 1 : Uninstall start-search.com malicious programs from your computer
In this first step, we will try to identify and remove any malicious program that might be installed on your computer.
- To uninstall the malicious program responsible for the start-search.com redirect from Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, click the Start button, then click on the Control Panel menu option.
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.
- When the Control Panel window opens click on the Uninstall a program option under Programs category. This option is shown by the arrow in the image below. If you are using the Classic View of the Control Panel, then you would double-click on the Programs and Features icon instead.
- When the Programs and Features or the Uninstall a Program screen is displayed, scroll through the list of currently installed programs and uninstall Start Search uninstaller, WPM188.8.131.5259, SnapDo, BeeCoupons, SavePass, SupTab and any other recently installed unknown program from your computer.
To view the most recently installed programs, you can click on the “Installed On” column to sort your program by the installation date. Scroll though the list, and uninstall any unwanted or unknown programs.
Depending on what program has installed the start-search.com adware infection, the above program may have a different name or not be installed on your computer. If you cannot find any unwanted or unknown programs on your machine, then you can proceed with the next step.
If you are having issues while trying to uninstall the start-search.com program, you can use Revo Uninstaller to completely remove this unwanted program from your machine.
STEP 2: Remove start-search.com virus from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome
Remove start-search.com virus from Internet Explorer
You can reset Internet Explorer settings to return them to the state they were in when Internet Explorer was first installed on your PC.
- Open Internet Explorer, click on the “gear icon” in the upper right part of your browser, then click again on Internet Options.
- In the “Internet Options” dialog box, click on the “Advanced” tab, then click on the “Reset” button.
- In the “Reset Internet Explorer settings” section, select the “Delete personal settings” check box, then click on “Reset” button.
- When Internet Explorer has completed its task, click on the “Close” button in the confirmation dialogue box. You will now need to close your browser, and then you can open Internet Explorer again.
Remove start-search.com virus from Mozilla Firefox
If you’re having problems with Firefox, resetting it can help. The reset feature fixes many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information like bookmarks, passwords, web form auto-fill information, browsing history and open tabs.
- In the upper-right corner of the Firefox window, click the Firefox menu button (), then click on the “Help” () button.
- From the Help menu, choose Troubleshooting Information.
If you’re unable to access the Help menu, type about:support in your address bar to bring up the Troubleshooting information page.
- Click the “Reset Firefox” button in the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page.
- To continue, click on the “Reset Firefox” button in the new confirmation window that opens.
- Firefox will close itself and will revert to its default settings. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click on the “Finish“.
Note: Your old Firefox profile will be placed on your desktop in a folder named “Old Firefox Data“. If the reset didn’t fix your problem you can restore some of the information not saved by copying files to the new profile that was created. If you don’t need this folder any longer, you should delete it as it contains sensitive information.
Remove start-search.com virus from Google Chrome
- Remove start-search.com extensions from Google Chrome.
Click on the “Chrome menu button” () on the browser toolbar, select “Tools“, and then click on “Extensions“.
In the Extensions tab, remove Extended Protection 1.9, Lightning Newtab and any other unknown extensions by clicking the trash can icon.
Basically, if you have not installed a Chrome extension, you should remove it from your web browser.
- Set Google Chrome default search engine from Yahoo Search to Google.
Click the 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.
Search for Yahoo Search in the Search Engines list, and click the X button that appears at the end of the row.
- Change Google Chrome homepage from start-search.com to its default.
Start 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 button, then select Settings and click on One the New Tab page in the On Startup section.
STEP 3: Remove start-search.com browser hijacker with AdwCleaner
The AdwCleaner utility will scan your computer and web browser for the “start-search.com” malicious files, browser extensions and registry keys, that may have been installed on your computer without your knowledge.
- You can download AdwCleaner utility from the below link.
ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will automatically download AdwCleaner on your computer)
- Before starting AdwCleaner, close all open programs and internet browsers, then double-click on the AdwCleaner icon.
If Windows prompts you as to whether or not you wish to run AdwCleaner, please allow it to run.
- When the AdwCleaner program will open, click on the “Scan” button as shown below.
AdwCleaner will now start to search for the “start-search.com” malicious files that may be installed on your computer.
- To remove the “start-search.com” malicious files that were detected in the previous step, please click on the “Clean” button.
- AdwCleaner will now prompt you to save any open files or documents, as the program will need to reboot the computer. Please do so and then click on the OK button.
STEP 4: Remove start-search.com virus from your computer with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free uses industry-leading technology to detect and remove all traces of malware, including worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware, and more.
It is important to note that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware works well and should run alongside antivirus software without conflicts.
- You can download download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware from the below link.
MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free)
- Once downloaded, close all programs, then double-click on the icon on your desktop named “mbam-setup-consumer-2.00.xx” to start the installation of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
- When the installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Setup Wizard which will guide you through the installation process.
To install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware on your machine, keep following the prompts by clicking the “Next” button.
- Once installed, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will automatically start and you will see a message stating that you should update the program, and that a scan has never been run on your system. To start a system scan you can click on the “Fix Now” button.
Alternatively, you can click on the “Scan” tab and select “Threat Scan“, then click on the “Scan Now” button.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now check for updates, and if there are any, you will need to click on the “Update Now” button.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer for the start-search.com virus. When Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is scanning it will look like the image below.
- When the scan has completed, you will now be presented with a screen showing you the malware infections that Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has detected. To remove the malicious programs that Malwarebytes Anti-malware has found, click on the “Quarantine All” button, and then click on the “Apply Now” button.
Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now quarantine all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. When removing the files, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot your computer, please allow it to do so.
After your computer will restart, you should open Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and perform another “Threat Scan” scan to verify that there are no remaining threats
STEP 5: Double check for the start-search.com infection with HitmanPro
HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner, designed to rescue your computer from malware (viruses, trojans, rootkits, etc.) that have infected your computer despite all the security measures you have taken (such as anti virus software, firewalls, etc.). HitmanPro is designed to work alongside existing security programs without any conflicts. It scans the computer quickly (less than 5 minutes) and does not slow down the computer.
- You can download HitmanPro from the below link:
HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
- Double-click on the file named “HitmanPro.exe” (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or “HitmanPro_x64.exe” (for 64-bit versions of Windows). When the program starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below.
Click on the “Next” button, to install HitmanPro on your computer.
- HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for start-search.com malicious files.
- When it has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found as shown in the image below. Click on the “Next” button, to remove start-search.com malware.
- Click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial, and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
Your computer should now be free of the start-search.com infection. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the Premium version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future, and perform regular computer scans with HitmanPro.
If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove start-search.com hijacker from your machine, please start a new thread in our Malware Removal Assistance forum.