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Friday, June 6, 2014

Remove (Uninstall Guide)

Tell your friends: is a browser hijacker and a PUP – or Potentially Unwanted Program – is something that irritates and annoys internet users worldwide on a daily basis. But irritating and annoying does not specifically mean dangerous. So is it malware? It might be true that it is not, generally speaking, trying to access your online bank account, or logging your keystrokes with an aim to steal your passwords, but even so, it has been installed on your PC in a surreptitious manner so surely this means that it's less than desirable?

To understand a PUP is to break its name down. Firstly, it is a genuine program (in the majority of cases) – it is something that works and has a function, albeit it a perhaps not amazing one. But, to many minds, a PUP or a browser hijacker can still be termed as malware. But why is this and how do browser hijackers and PUPs differ to 'actual' malware? Well, it is this absence of maliciousness that means is only 'potentially' unwanted. Of course, even if you didn't install it you may, over time, come to get used to it and perhaps even prefer it to your browser's default home page or search eingine. But there is a flip side too to browser hijacker and that is despite appearing to be useful, they can also, as mentioned above, be pretty darn annoying - hence the potentially unwanted.

So is malware or not?

In short, no. However, it's a bit of a tricky one as the potential part of the PUPs name means that it falls between the gaps somewhat and most people fall into one of two camps. Many people would agree that the installation of this browser hijacker is definitely not the worst thing to happen to your PC, but even if you do quite like the new home page that the browser hijacker installed it probably won't take you all that long before it starts getting on your nerves. First of all, this browser hijacker modifies many browser settings and Windows registry keys. Secondly, it hijacks browser shortcuts. Thirdly, it displays ads and may redirect you very questionable websites. What is more, it usually comes bundled with other PUPs and adware programs. Which means your computer is probably infected with more unwanted programs that you expected. It could be a nightmare to remove all the suspicious files from your computer manually, especially when you have no clue were and what to look for. My advise would be to run a full system scan with recommended anti-malware software.

If you think that it's not so bad after all, think again. As I said, will change the settings of your default internet browser so that when you try and search for a website you want to visit you'll find yourself being constantly directed to websites that the PUPs owner wants you to visit instead. They might also change your actual home page to one of their own as well as targeting you with a steady stream of pop-up ads.

This is what blurs the lines between malware and purely unwanted; it really does depend on how annoying you find unwanted programs on your PC compared to being able to download for free.

Avoiding and removing

The silver lining is that the majority of PUPs and browser hijackers are easy to delete from your system. You can action this via the Windows Control Panel. But you should try and avoiding having a browser hijacker installed on your PC in the first place. Make sure your patches and installed software are up to date and never download programs from third party websites or if you're at all concerned about a site's reputation. And don't forget to read software license agreements carefully as many of them will tell you if you're also installing a PUP or a browser hijacker. If you need help removing it from your computer, please leave a comment below. But first, follow the steps in the removal guide below. Good luck and be safe online!.

Written by Michael Kaur, removal instructions:

1. First of all, download recommended anti-malware software and run a full system scan. It will detect and remove this infection from your computer. You may then follow the manual removal instructions below to remove the leftover traces of this infection. Hopefully you won't have to do that.

2. As this infection is known to be installed by vulnerabilities in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use an automatic software update tool to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer.

3. Remove related programs from your computer using the Add/Remove Programs control panel (Windows XP) or Uninstall a program control panel (Windows 7 and Windows 8).

Go to the Start Menu. Select Control PanelAdd/Remove Programs.
If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, select Control PanelUninstall 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.

4. When the Add/Remove Programs or the Uninstall a Program screen is displayed, scroll through the list of currently installed programs and remove the WPM17.8.0.3159 and webssearches uninstaller programs.

If you are using Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, click Uninstall up near the top of that window. When you're done, please close the Control Panel screen.

Remove from Google Chrome:

1. Click on Chrome menu button. Go to ToolsExtensions.

2. Ensure that the Developer mode checkbox in the top right-hand corner is checked. Go to Chrome extensions directory and delete the folder Extended Protection extension is loaded from.

3. Then select Settings. Scroll down the page and click Show advanced settings.

4. Find the Reset browser settings section and click Reset browser settings button.

5. In the dialog that appears, click Reset. Close Chrome.

6. Right-click Google Chrome shortcut you are using to open your web browser and select Properties.

7. Select Shortcut tab and remove "" from the Target field and click OK to save changes. Basically, there should be only the path to Chrome executable file.

Remove from Mozilla Firefox:

1. Open Mozilla Firefox. In the URL address bar, type about:config and hit Enter.

Click I'll be careful, I promise! to continue.

In the search filter at the top, type: webssearches

Now, you should see all the preferences that were changed by Webs Searches. Right-click on the preference and select Reset to restore default value. Reset all found preferences!

4. Right-click the Mozilla Firefox shortcut you are using to open your web browser and select Properties.

5. Select Shortcut tab and remove "" from the Target field and click OK to save changes. Basically, there should be only the path to Firefox executable file.

Remove from Internet Explorer:

1. Open Internet Explorer. Go to ToolsManage Add-ons.

2. Select Search Providers. First of all, choose Live Search search engine and make it your default web search provider (Set as default).

3. Select Webs Searches and click Remove to remove it. Close the window.

4. Right-click the Internet Explorer shortcut you are using to open your web browser and select Properties.

5. Select Shortcut tab and remove "" from the Target field and click OK to save changes. Basically, there should be only the path to Internet Explorer executable file.

6. Finally, go to ToolsInternet Options and restore your home page to default. That's it!


Josey z said...

webssearches is not listed in the
programs list, so one cannot uninstall it, also i have changed
my default to internet ex many times, & it always comes back.
they use code name & do not use vendor name "istart websearches"
i have also deleted their name from registery 7 again it has come back as my default search browser

Anonymous said...

it works! thanks!!!!!

Vicki Turner said...

Hello.. I have webssearches on my computer & I have tried unsuccessfully to remove it from the control panel, add or remove.. what am I to do ???

philippeF said...

webssearches si not listed in the programs list, not listed in Firefox, not listed in ggogle chrome, not listed in internet explorer but he comes when i open firefox.

What can i do?

TY for answer

Anonymous said...

did follow instructions but didn't seem to work - at the end I controlled the most obvious and stupid thing thing: the link on the desktop itself had been modified including the url and a search reference in the registry. Deleted the registry key and corrected the link again to be "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe"

Anonymous said...

I cannot find anything anywhere called websearches, It keeps popping up as 2 seperate tabs in google chrome, yet I also have chrome canary, ie, firefox, yet it only effects google chrome, it isn't in extensions, start up, program files etc that is under that name or the file name you listed in your guide, so I don't know where it is from.

I run Windows 7 Home, 32 bit, I have Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 and am still having problems, ran malware antimalwarebytes, still cant locate, what can I do?

silvaro said...

Could not find it at first, as you guys said. It was on the target field of the link as described. Good advice !!! Thanks a million.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! One thing though: many tried to search websearch, but there is a second 's' in there! it has to be webssearch with double 's' in the middle.

Irene said...

I've tried the instructions of dozens of pages, but it will not be removed. Even tried reinstalling Firefox. I'm at the brink of insanity with this thing.

Brad said...

while trying to uninstall webssearch it has a file called webssearch uninstall. When I click on it to uninstall it asks me to type in matching letters then it starts asking me to do different things and I believe I will never get rid of this frackin thing :/

I'm new to PC's and I'm running windows 8.1

Anonymous said...

It is still there...even though i uninstalled it from everywhere that you have mentioned.

Anonymous said...

still here after the steps help!!!!!

Anonymous said...

can't uninstall, not visible in programs in control panel and unable to delete program file - states "needs authorisation

Anonymous said...

Thank you bro!! very useful ! i can remove that thing from my browser....

Anonymous said...

is not working in my i-E, i have following step by step but when i choose to Internet Options > Use default, the virus still exist. give me advice please!

Anonymous said...

i have tried all these methods bt still its coming whenever m opening the google chrome.

Anonymous said...

I tried all of this, but istart still opens as my homepage, even thoug I've deleted it from the homepage list...

Attila said...

Dear Michael! I need to say: congratulations. After many many trials I have found your blog, and it helped 100 %. Great job! Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Does webssearches affect I.E and Chrome at the same time??

I tried all of the method but it didnt work and also when i open the my browser and go to properties the TARGET column dont have tha istar websearches so i cant delete it pls help

Admin said...

@JOERELL, yes it does affect both browsers.

galloping_pig said...

Hi Michael, when I try to uninstall in the control panel a "uninstall" window pops up saying I need to input a word like the proving your not a robot ones... I input the work and click continue but it says uninstaller is preparing the necessary data. then waiting... with two selections down the bottom, continue and cancel.
I click on continue but it then takes me to another window that says "repair" or cancel. I'm going around in circles!!! it wont uninstall.

Admin said...


I think you need to force uninstall it either using anti-malware software or programs like Revo Uninstaller or CCleaner.

Prowhiz said...

In case you tried everything and istart still shows up, check your taskbar link. Right click on the icon E.g Internet explorer. A menu open. Right-click on Internet explorer > Properties. Edit the target of the shortcut and delete any additions to the link

Anonymous said...

Ok tried to replace the istart in the Explore icon properties with iexplore.exe but won't allow the change. Indictes path is invalid. If you put "is" it instantly comes up with Istart and the HTTP address of websearch nothing else seems to be found.
Like the others in this help

Jim said...

I removed it from the list using I.E. tools and deleted using the control panel. I have CCleaner and AVG and am running Windows 7 PRO.
My Start will not leave internet explorer or Mozilla. the only search engines that remain free from PUP are Maxthon and Citrio so I am using them most of the time.

Anonymous said...

THANKS SO MUCH! This is the first set of complete instructions....

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!! After trying several other sites instructions. Even after thrawling through my registry and removing all the items that were linked [noted additional ad ware items had been installed the same day as the webssearches in add/remove programs and believe that was some how linked], the cleaning up of the target link and removing the istart.webssearches... from there has it gone!
AWESOME!!!!!!!! Spent ages with this one

Hesham.Sharm said...

Fantastic , it worked well
Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

the only way to permanently remove it is by right clicking mozilla, internet explorer or google crome. next, right click proprties, go to Shortcut and then finally remove "". it should be next to the word. ".exe" of internet explorer, mozilla or google chrome. it took me several hours and after losing all my history on mozilla and internet explorer, i cannot believe this simple solution was right in front of me the whole time and that is after removing all programs related to webssearches. i'm so annoyed, especially that webssearches kept appearing everytime i opened up mozilla and internet explorer. i am SO GLAD this works and no more problems. Thank You very much.