Also Known As: Zwinky Virus, Type: Browser Hijacker, Distribution: High
Damage level: Medium
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
Zwinky Toolbar - how to remove browser redirects to home.mywebsearch.com?
What is Zwinky?
Zwinky is an online service enabling users to create individual cartoon avatars. Whilst some find this service useful, its developers have chosen a deceptive monetization strategy by asking their users to download the Zwinky toolbar in order to use their free services. When installed, this toolbar modifies the user's homepage and default search engine browser settings. Moreover, each newly-opened tab is redirected to the home.mywebsearch.com website. Note that using this website for your daily Internet searches adds no real value - this redirect is applied for monetization purposes, since each time a computer user clicks on sponsored search results, the developers of Zwinky Toolbar gain revenue.
Furthermore, PC users complain that it is difficult to eliminate the Zwinky toolbar and associated redirect issues from their computers. Whilst this browser add-on is not directly related to malware or virus infections, it adds no real value and should be eliminated from your system to avoid Internet browser performance issues and possible malware infections. If you feel that you have not willingly installed the Zwinky toolbar on your system, its presence is likely to be a consequence of free software installation. Free software developers commonly bundle their free programs with browser add-ons for monetization purposes.
To avoid unwilling installation of the Zwinky toolbar or similar unwanted applications, computer users should closely inspect each installation step of any free software they download from the Internet. When installing freeware, disallow any suggested changes to your Internet browser settings. In summary, the Zwinky toolbar is not technically a virus or malware, however, it is classed as an unwanted application that is complicated to eliminate. If you have willingly downloaded the Zwinky toolbar, and are happy with the services provided, then you need take no further action. If, however, you are annoyed by redirects to home.mywebsearch.com and feel this browser extension was installed on your computer without your consent, use the removal guide provided to eliminate it from your system.
- What is Zwinky?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Zwinky toolbar application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Zwinky redirect from Internet Explorer.
- STEP 3. Remove Zwinky browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 4. Remove Zwinky homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
Zwinky toolbar removal:
Windows 7 users:
Click "Start" ("Windows Logo" at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose "Control Panel". Locate "Programs" and click "Uninstall a program".
Windows XP users:
Click "Start", choose "Settings" and click "Control Panel". Locate and click "Add or Remove Programs".
Windows 8 users:
Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose "Programs and Features".
In the uninstall programs window, look for "Zwinky toolbar", select this entry and click " Uninstall" or "Remove"
After uninstalling Zwinky Toolbar, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. Recommended malware removal software.
Zwinky Toolbar removal from browsers:
Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:
Remove Zwinky Toolbar from Internet Explorer:
Click on the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer) select "Manage Add-ons". Look for Mindspark Interactive Network related entries (5qbar.dll, Zwinky, Toolbar BHO, Search Assistant BHO) and disable them.
To change your homepage from home.mywebsearch.com to your preferred domain, click on the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer) select "Internet Options", in the opened window remove home.mywebsearch.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you launch Internet Explorer.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the zwinky toolbar, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.
Windows XP users: Click "Start", click "Run", in the opened window type "inetcpl.cpl" In the opened window click the "Advanced" tab, then click Reset.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type "inetcpl.cpl" and click enter. In the opened window click the "Advanced" tab, then click Reset.
Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the "gear" icon. Select "Internet Options".
In the opened window, select the "Advanced" tab.
Click the "Reset" button.
Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the "Reset" button.
Remove Zwinky Toolbar from FireFox:
Click on the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window) select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and disable add-ons and remove "Zwinky".
To reset your homepage click on the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window) then select "Options", in the opened window remove home.mywebsearch.com and enter your preferred domain.
Computer users who have problems with zwinky toolbar removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.
Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, in the opened menu, click the "Open Help Menu" icon,
Select "Troubleshooting Information".
In the opened window, click the "Reset Firefox" button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the "Reset" button.
A browser hijacker is a type of adware that alters user's Internet browser settings by changing one's homepage and default Internet search engine to some unwanted website. Most commonly this type of adware infiltrates user's operating system through free software downloads. While browser redirects might seem as a low risk security infection, computer users should know that the websites to which they are being redirected to commonly contain deceptive online advertisements and the Internet search engine that is presented in such websites might return shady Internet search results. Using such websites for one's daily Internet searches might easily end up in privacy issues, identity theft or malware infections.
A computer that is affected by a browser hijacker is exposed to high risk security infections. To prevent further privacy and security issues it's recommended removing any Internet browser settings altering adware as soon as possible. Here are some examples of free software download clients that are used in Zwinky Toolbar distribution:
To avoid installation of Zwinky Toolbar be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. If your download is managed by a download client be sure to opt out of installing advertised toolbars or applications that seek to change your homepage and default Internet search engine:
Some of the mentioned free software download clients don't allow downloading the chosen free program if user decides to decline installation of it's offered toolbars, in such cases it's recommended to cancel the installation and look for an alternative download source.
Symptoms indicating that your Internet browsers are affected by a browser hijacker:
- Your homepage and/or default Internet search engine is changed.
- Appearance of new toolbars.
- Slow performance of Internet browsers.
- New Bookmarks or Favorites added.
- You can't change your homepage or default search engine.
- You see online ads on your screen that are not served by the website.
- You get redirected to pages you never intended to visit.
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove Zwinky Toolbar from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware removal forum.
If you have additional information on Zwinky Toolbar or it's removal please share your knowledge in the comments section below.