Essential Cleaner

Also Known As: Essential Cleaner Rogue
Damage level: High

What is Essential Cleaner?

Essential Cleaner is a fake antivirus program created by Internet criminals and derived from a large family of bogus software. Other members from this rogue family include Smart Fortress 2012, System Tool, and many other.

This fake scanner is often distributed through websites displaying ads for spyware scanning. On entering such a website, a pop-up window appears showing a fake security scan and stating that your computer is at risk and that you should download and install a security program to remove these threats.

If you click on this window, Essential Cleaner will be installed on your computer.

Essential Cleaner fake antivirus program

The program starts automatically on system start-up and will perform fake security scans. You should ignore the scans and results that this program generates.

This program is created with the sole intention to steal money from your credit card account. If by mistake you have already bought the license for this program, you should contact your credit card company and dispute the charges explaining that you have been tricked into purchasing a fake security program.

This software is useless and designed to scare you into purchasing a full version. The professional appearance can easily fool people into believing that this is a legitimate anti-spyware program, however, Essential Cleaner is merely a cleverly created scam with a goal to trick computer users into purchasing a license to remove the supposed security infections.

Essential Cleaner is a particularly dangerous program, since when installed on your computer, it will block many features of your operating system.

You will be unable to execute any of your installed programs and your Tasks Manager will be blocked. Whenever you attempt to access websites, an error message will report that the page is infected and you should activate Essential Cleaner to clean your PC.

These processes are misleading - ignore Essential Cleaner and remove it from your computer.

The following fake security warning messages will be shown by Essential Cleaner:

"Essential Cleaner Warning. Intercepting programs that may compromise your privacy and harm your system have been detected on your PC. Click here to remove them immediately with Essential Cleaner."

These security warning messages are fake. You should remove Essential Cleaner as soon as possible. Follow this removal guide to completely remove this bogus program from your computer.

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Quick menu:

Automatic Essential Cleaner virus removal:

Before downloading and installing removal tool, try entering one of the following license keys in the Essential Cleaner registration window. It will not remove the infection, but will enable you to install the spyware remover.
License keys:

Note: Installer file is renamed to iexplore.exe, as most of this family of infections does not block this file.

If you cannot download or install Spyware removal software, you can try downloading a customized installer that was built by our technicians to bypass spyware infections. Download customized installer
Windows may warn you that downloading or running this file may be unsafe. This is because this file is not signed due to .com file limitations.

Please ignore these warnings.

Essential Cleaner manual removal instructions:

1. Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK.

During your computer starting process press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.


Video showing how to start Windows in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows XP:

Windows 7:

Windows 8:

2. Open Internet Explorer, click Tools and select Internet Options. Select "Connections".

internet options


internet options connections


3.Click LAN settings, if 'Use a proxy server for your LAN' is checked, uncheck it and press OK.

lan settings

proxy settings





 4. Download HijackThis and save it to your desktop. Some malicious programs are able to block HijackThis, so when you click the download link, in the Save dialog, rename HijackThis.exe to iexplore.exe and only then click the Save button.

After saving the file to your desktop, double click it. In the main HijackThis window click the “Do a system scan only” button. Select the following entry (place a tick at the left of the entry):

O4 - HKCU\..\RunOnce: [] C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\\.exe

After selecting the required entries, click "Fix Checked". After this procedure you can close HijackThis and proceed to the next removal step.

5. After this procedure download and install legitimate anti-spyware software. Update and run a full system scan.

Other tools known to remove Essential Cleaner:

If you are unable to remove Essential Cleaner, you can use these manual removal instructions. Use them at your own risk, since if you do not have strong computer knowledge, you could harm your operating system.

Use them only if you are an experienced computer user. (Instructions on how to end processes, remove registry entries...)

End these Essential Cleaner processes:


Remove these Essential Cleaner registry entries:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Download “RunInvalidSignatures” = “1?
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings “ProxyServer” = “http=
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run “Essential Cleaner?
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options “Debugger” = “svchost.exe”

Delete these Essential Cleaner files:

C:\Documents And Settings\All Users\Application Data\[random]\[random].exe


The fake antivirus programs (also known as "rogue antivirus programs" or "scareware") are applications that tries to lure computer users into paying for their non-existent full versions to remove the supposedly detected security infections (although the computer is actually clean). These bogus programs are created by cyber criminals who design them to look as legitimate antivirus software. Most commonly rogue antivirus programs infiltrate user's computer using poop-up windows or alerts which appear when users surf the Internet. These deceptive messages trick users into downloading a rogue antivirus program on their computers. Other known tactics used to spread scareware include exploit kits, infected email messages, online ad networks, drive-by downloads, or even direct calls to user's offering free support.

A computer that is infected with a fake antivirus program might also have other malware installed on it as rogue antivirus programs often are bundled with Trojans and exploit kits. Noteworthy that additional malware that infiltrates user's operating system remains on victim's computer regardless of whether a payment for a non-existent full version of a fake antivirus program is made. Here are some examples of fake security warning messages that are used in fake antivirus distribution:

Fake pop-up used in rogue antivirus distribution example 1

Fake pop-up used in rogue antivirus distribution example 2

Computer users who are dealing with a rogue security software shouldn't buy it's full version. By paying for a license key of a fake antivirus program users would send their money and banking information to cyber criminals. Users who have already entered their credit card number (or other sensitive information) when asked by such bogus software should inform their credit card company that they have been tricked into buying a rogue security software. Screenshot of a web page used to lure computer users into paying for a non-existent full version of essential cleaner rogue and other rogue antivirus programs:

example of a webpage used to collect payments for fake antivirus programs

To protect your computer from essential cleaner rogue and other rogue antivirus programs users should:

  • Keep their operating system and all of the installed programs up-to-date.
  • Use legitimate antivirus and anti-spyware programs.
  • Use caution when clicking on links in social networking websites and email messages.
  • Don't trust online pop-up messages which state that your computer is infected and offers you to download security software.

Symptoms indicating that your operating system is infected with a fake antivirus program:

  • Intrusive security warning pop-up messages.
  • Alerts asking to upgrade to a paid version of a program to remove the supposedly detected malware.
  • Slow computer performance.
  • Disabled Windows updates.
  • Blocked Task Manager.
  • Blocked Internet browsers or inability to visit legitimate antivirus vendor websites.

If you have additional information on essential cleaner rogue or it's removal please share your knowledge in the comments section below.

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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.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

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