Hotspot Shield toolbar - how to remove browser redirects to search.anchorfree.net?
What is Hotspot Shield?
Hotspot Shield is VPN software which allows Internet users to visit disallowed websites at work whilst hiding their IP address. This is legitimate software and not related to malware of viruses, however, Internet users should be attentive when installing the free version of this program. Hotspot Shield free is 'bundled' with the Hotspot Shield toolbar, which causes browser redirects to search.anchorfree.com, search.conduit.com, and other websites. Furthermore, it generates ads, which may lead to security infections or privacy issues.
Today, many download websites (including download.com, softonic.com, soft32.com, etc.) and freeware developers 'bundle' browser add-ons and toolbars with downloads in order to monetize their free services. Some 'installers' employed to install the downloaded free software are deceptive and thus users should express caution when dealing with them. When installing free software, ensure that you choose the 'Custom' or 'Advanced' installation options, rather than 'Typical' or 'Quick'. This will allow you to opt-out of installation of additional (usually unwanted) browser plug-ins and toolbars. If your Internet browser/s redirects you to search.anchrofree.com, you have installed Hotspot shield toolbar and it is recommended that you eliminate it from your computer.
The Hotspot Shield toolbar is similar to other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) such as Babylon toolbar, Delta Search toolbar, Default Tab (mysearchresults.com), and many others. Commonly, these programs install on users' computers without their consent via a deceptive software distribution method called bundling. If you suspect Hotspot Shield toolbar was installed on your computer without your consent, express caution when downloading or installing any free software in future. To remove this toolbar and associated browser redirects, use the removal instructions provided.
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- What is Hotspot Shield?
- STEP 1. Uninstall "Hotspot Shield toolbar" and "Hotspot Shield" applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Hotspot Shield redirect from Internet Explorer.
- STEP 3. Remove Hotspot Shield homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 5. Remove Hotspot Shield redirect from Safari.
- STEP 6. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Hotspot Shield 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 10 and 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.
Mac OSX users:
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.
In the uninstall programs window: look for "Hotspot Shield toolbar" and "Hotspot Shield", select each and click " Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the Hotspot Shield toolbar (which causes browser redirects to search.anchorfree.com), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software. Remove all entries that this program detects to ensure your PC is clean from any possible spyware and malware infections.
Hotspot Shield toolbar removal from browsers:
Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:
Remove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:
Click on the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer) select "Manage Add-ons". Look for "Hotspot Shield Class", "Hotspot Shield API Server" and "Hotspot Shield Toolbar", select these entries and click "Remove".
To change your homepage from search.anchorfre.com (or search.conduit.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 search.anchorfree.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you launch Internet Explorer.
Change default search engine:
Click on the "gear" 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 "Hotspot Shield customized web search" or "Conduit".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the hotspot shield virus, 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 malicious plugins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click on the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window) select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "Hotspot Shield" and "Hotspot Shield Helper".
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 search.anchorfree.com or search.conduit.com and enter your preferred domain.
Change 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: "conduit" or "anchorfree"
Right-click on the found preferences and select "Reset" to restore default values.
Computer users who have problems with hotspot shield virus 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 Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...
In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.
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.
In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge 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:
Click the Edge 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:
To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge 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 near it and select "Disable".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the hotspot shield virus, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
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.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
A 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.
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove hotspot shield virus from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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