How to remove DIY Projects and Hide My Searches

Also Known As: search.freehowtotab.com redirect
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

DIY Projects browser hijacker removal instructions

What is DIY Projects?

DIY Projects supposedly provides links to popular how-to websites, however, this app is classified as a browser hijacker, since it promote a fake search engine (search.freehowtotab.com) by changing certain browser settings. Browser hijackers can also record user-system information - in most cases, they target browsing data. DIY Projects is distributed and installed together with Hide My Searches. Both of these apps are categorized as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs), since people tend to download and install them unintentionally.

search.freehowtotab.com browser hijacker

Browser hijackers are installed on popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. In most cases, they hijack browsers by changing settings such as the address of the default search engine, homepage, and new tab. DIY Projects assigns these addresses to search.freehowtotab.com. Therefore, users are forced to visit the address of this fake search engine when they open a browser (new window), new tab or enter search queries into the URL bar. If used to search, search.freehowtotab.com provides results generated by Yahoo - it simply redirects to search.yahoo.com. I.e., search.freehowtotab.com generates no unique results and this search engine is thus fake. Generally, users of hijacked browsers cannot remove the addresses of fake search engines from the settings without first uninstalling the browser hijacker that originally made the changes. Most browser hijackers, including as DIY Projects, prevent users from undoing the changes - they reassign them after each attempt to modify the settings. Apps such as DIY Projects often operate as information tracking tools and target details such as IP addresses, geolocations, entered search queries, addresses of visited websites, etc. In some cases, these PUAs record personal, sensitive information. The developers misuse the gathered data to generate revenue, or sell it to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) who do the same. Therefore, remove all browser hijackers immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name DIY Projects
Threat Type Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab.
Detection Names AVG (Win32:Adware-gen [Adw]), Cylance (Unsafe), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/WinWrapper.V Potentially Unwanted), Microsoft (PUA:Win32/OpenDownloadManager), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Browser Extension(s) DIY Projects
Supposed Functionality DYI Projects supposed to provide a quick access to various how-to websites.
Promoted URL search.freehowtotab.com
Serving IP Address (search.freehowtotab.com) 3.223.110.92
Affected Browser Settings Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine.
Symptoms Manipulated internet browser settings (homepage, default Internet search engine, new tab settings). Users are forced to visit the hijacker's website and search the internet using their search engines.
Additional Information DIY Projects is distributed with another browser hijacker called Hide My Searches.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.
Damage Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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Generally, browser hijackers force people to use fake search engines and gather various information. Some examples of other apps that operate in this way include Gamers Buddy, PDF Converter App and Download Party. These apps deliver no value or useful features, and simply cause problems. For these reasons, remove DIY Projects, Hide My Searches and other apps of this type that is installed on the browser and/or operating system.

How did DIY Projects install on my computer?

People commonly download and install PUAs inadvertently by clicking certain deceptive advertisements or when they download/install other (usually free) software. Typically, they are tricked into downloading and/or installing PUAs when they are included into the set-ups of other programs. This happens when they fail to check and change the "Custom" and "Advanced" settings of the download/installation set-up (these settings usually mention additional software). Leaving them unchanged often allows PUAs to be downloaded and installed.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Download all software from official, trustworthy websites. Avoid other sources, tools such as Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule, and so on), unofficial web pages, third party downloaders, installers, etc. Check "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings of the download and/or installation setup and decline offers to download or install unwanted, additionally-included software. Do not click intrusive advertisements shown on dubious pages - they can redirect people to potentially malicious websites or download/install unwanted applications. Remove any unwanted apps (extensions, add-ons or plug-ins) already installed on the browser immediately. Also apply this to programs of this kind that are installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with DIY Projects, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.

DIY Projects download page:

Website used to promote DIY Projects browser hijacker

DIY Projects installer:

Official DIY Projects browser hijacker installation setup

DIY Projects asks permission to read and change certain data on Chrome:

diy projects browser hijacker aks for a permission to read and change various data 

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Quick menu:

DIY Projects browser hijacker removal:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

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:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

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.

Mac OSX users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

search.freehowtotab.com browser hijacker uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "DIY Projects"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications that cause browser redirects to the search.freehowtotab.com website, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

DIY Projects browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove browser redirects:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com related Internet Explorer extensions

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Change your homepage:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com from Internet Explorer homepage

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Internet Options", in the opened window remove hxxp://search.freehowtotab.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you launch Internet Explorer. You can also enter about: blank to open a blank page when you start Internet Explorer.

Change your default search engine:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com from Internet Explorer default search engine

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". In the opened window, select "Search Providers", set "Google", "Bing", or any other preferred search engine as your default and then remove "DIY Projects".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the search.freehowtotab.com redirect, 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.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

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.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com related Google Chrome extensions

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "DIY Projects" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons (e.g., "Hide My Searches"), and remove them.

Change your homepage:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com from Google Chrome homepage

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "DIY Projects" or "Hide My Searches", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://search.freehowtotab.com or hxxps://hidemysearches.com) below the “Open a specific or set of pages” option. If present, click on the three vertical dots icon and select “Remove”.

Change your default search engine:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com from Google Chrome default search engine

To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings", in the "Search engine" section, click "Manage search engines...", in the opened list look for "hxxp://search.freehowtotab.com" and "hxxp://hidemysearches.com", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Remove from list".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the search.freehowtotab.com redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com related Mozilla Firefox extensions

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "DIY Projects", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins (e.g., "Hide My Searches").

Change your homepage:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com from Mozilla Firefox homepage

To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Options", in the opened window disable "DIY Projects" or "Hide My Searches", remove hxxp://search.freehowtotab.com or hxxp://hidemysearches.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Removing search.freehowtotab.com from Mozilla Firefox default search engine

In the URL address bar, type about:config and press Enter.
Click "I'll be careful, I promise!".
In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled"
Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the Mozilla Firefox switch about:config entry button button.

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with search.freehowtotab.com redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...

removing browser hijacker from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 3 - changing homepage

In the preferences window select General tab and make sure that your homepage is set to a preferred URL, if its altered by a browser hijacker - change it.

removing browser hijackers from safari step 4 - changing the default Internet search engine

In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate any recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.

Change your homepage and new tab settings:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 2

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section look for the name of the browser hijacker and click "Disable".

Change your default Internet search engine:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 3

To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Privacy and services", scroll to bottom of the page and select "Address bar". In the "Search engines used in address bar" section look for the name of the unwanted Internet search engine, when located click the "Disable" button near it. Alternatively you can click on "Manage search engines", in the opened menu look for unwanted Internet search engine. Click on the puzzle icon Microsoft Edge (Chromium) puzzle icon near it and select "Disable".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the search.freehowtotab.com redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of browser hijackers while downloading free software sampleA browser hijacker is a type of adware infection that modifies Internet browser settings by assigning the homepage and default Internet search engine settings to some other (unwanted) website URL. Commonly, this type of adware infiltrates operating systems through free software downloads. If your download is managed by a download client, ensure that you decline offers to install advertised toolbars or applications that seek to change your homepage and default Internet search engine settings.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove search.freehowtotab.com redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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Software uninstall instructions
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
search.freehowtotab.com redirect QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of search.freehowtotab.com redirect on your mobile device.
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