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Remove Hoho Search virus (Improved Instructions) - updated Dec 2016

removal by Gabriel E. Hall - - | Type: Browser hijacker

All the things wrong with Hoho Search engine

Hoho Search virus is a browser hijacker that infiltrates PCs with an intention to promote sponsored third-party content [1] and bring advertising profit to its creators. The virus is not new. It has been first spotted at the beginning of the year 2016 and was quickly deemed a potentially unwanted program [2] since it started appearing on the users’ browsers against their will. According to the online statistics, the site receives a traffic of around 56,798 unique users a day, most of it originating from countries like India and Indonesia [3]. With such traffic, the site holders can expect advertising revenue of around 454 USD a day. Nevertheless, looking at the site’s distribution strategies and a strong prevalence of Hoho Search redirect issue it is absolutely obvious that these shady advertisers are aiming for the maximum profit even if this involves working against the user. Unfortunately, this is mostly what this browser hijacker does, so it is not surprising why so many users are inquiring about the Hoho Search removal tool. Though some sites may offer you to obtain such a utility, don’t get fooled. No specialized hijacker extermination program exists. Instead, your whole computer system must be scanned with universal virus-detections software, say Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego, which locates all of the scattered malicious components and deletes them automatically. Then you can proceed by resetting the browser and finally getting rid of the last bits of the Hohosearch malware.

Hoho Search hijack begins with the PUP’s stealthy arrival on the system. The virus implements itself on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers and after settling in, immediately replaces their default search engines with the bogus one and the ad generating may begin. As we have already mentioned, redirects to the sponsored websites is a common problem to experience while browsing through Hohosearch results. These redirects may be utilized by randomly appearing pop-ups, links, banners and similar items used for advertising [4]. What is most worrying, though, is that these ads are presented in a context familiar to the users — custom Google search [5]. Hence, the potentially dangerous links may look completely reliable and safe. Nevertheless, the fact that you are accessing Google results after being redirected through some shady website should not be ignored. You never know what dangers may lie ahead. So, why not remove Hoho Search and use the legitimate search engine instead?

Questions about Hoho Search virus

A screenshot of the Hoho Search virus website
Previously, Hoho Search included links to popular social networks and domains, now the developers seem to have changed their tactics.

Protection against hijackers: is it possible?

Protecting your computer against browser hijackers like Hoho Search does not differ from protecting your PC against any other viruses. You have to obtain a reputable antivirus system and be careful not to click on suspicious links, software updates or ads while browsing online. However, what is typical to the hijackers is that they spread in software bundles, together with completely legitimate software. The tricky part is that antivirus software is not always capable of detecting the bundled programs, so you have to take the matter into your own hands. To make sure that your downloaded software packages do not contain malicious components like Hoho Search, choose the “Advanced” installation mode in the program setup. In the following windows, opt out the unnecessary or suspicious programs and proceed with the installation of the desired software only.

Strategies of Hoho Search removal:

In case you are wondering whether you will manage to uninstall Hoho Search virus or not, we can assure you that it is fairly easy. There are two ways you can do it. You can either scan your computer with a reliable antivirus software and remove the threat automatically, or you can remove Hoho Search yourself. Either method you go for will require professional assistance. If you chose to delete the virus automatically, make sure you choose only the professional tools which are capable of eliminating the virus effectively. If you opt for the manual Hoho Search removal, you should closely follow the instructions provided at the end of this article. If you are having any difficulties removing the virus, please contact us and we will try to help.

You may remove virus damage with a help of Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego. SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner and Malwarebytes are recommended to detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

To remove Hoho Search virus, follow these steps:

Uninstall Hoho Search from Windows systems

Though the official virus site claims that the program can be easily uninstalled via any program manager, the user reports beg the differ. Thus, we have provided instructions below which will help you eliminate the program from the computer successfully. Make sure you remove all entries of Hohosearch.

  1. Click Start Control Panel Programs and Features (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs). Click 'Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features' (if you are 'Windows XP' user, click on 'Add/Remove Programs').
  2. If you are Windows 10 / Windows 8 user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once Quick Access Menu shows up, select Control Panel and Uninstall a Program. If you are 'Windows 10 / Windows 8' user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once 'Quick Access Menu' shows up, select 'Control Panel' and 'Uninstall a Program'.
  3. Uninstall Hoho Search and related programs
    Here, look for Hoho Search or any other recently installed suspicious programs.
  4. Uninstall them and click OK to save these changes. Right click on each of suspicious entries and select 'Uninstall'
  5. Remove Hoho Search from Windows shortcuts
    Right click on the shortcut of Mozilla Firefox and select Properties. Right click on browsers' icon and select 'Properties'
  6. Go to Shortcut tab and look at the Target field. Delete malicious URL that is related to your virus. Select 'Shortcut' tab and delete '' or other suspicious URL

Repeat steps that are given above with all browsers' shortcuts, including Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. Make sure you check all locations of these shortcuts, including Desktop, Start Menu and taskbar.

Remove Hoho Search from Mac OS X system

  1. If you are using OS X, click Go button at the top left of the screen and select Applications. Cick 'Go' and select 'Applications'
  2. Wait until you see Applications folder and look for Hoho Search or any other suspicious programs on it. Now right click on every of such entries and select Move to Trash. Click on every malicious entry and select 'Move to Trash'

Eliminate Hoho Search from Internet Explorer (IE)

  1. Remove dangerous add-ons
    Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top right corner of the browser and choose Manage Add-ons. Click on menu icon and select 'Manage add-ons'
  2. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for Hoho Search and other suspicious plugins. Disable these entries by clicking Disable: Right click on each of malicious entries and select 'Disable'
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the gear icon (menu) on the top right corner of the browser and select Internet Options. Stay in General tab.
  4. Here, remove malicious URL and enter preferable domain name. Click Apply to save changes. Delete malicious URL, enter your desired domain name and click 'Apply' to save changes
  5. Reset Internet Explorer
    Click on the gear icon (menu) again and select Internet options. Go to Advanced tab.
  6. Here, select Reset.
  7. When in the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete Hoho Search removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again

Erase Hoho Search virus from Microsoft Edge

Reset Microsoft Edge settings (Method 1):

  1. Launch Microsoft Edge app and click More (three dots at the top right corner of the screen).
  2. Click Settings to open more options.
  3. Once Settings window shows up, click Choose what to clear button under Clear browsing data option. Go to Settings and select 'Choose what to clear'
  4. Here, select all what you want to remove and click Clear. Select 'Clear' button
  5. Now you should right-click on the Start button (Windows logo). Here, select Task Manager. Open the start menu and select 'Task Manager'
  6. When in Processes tab, search for Microsoft Edge.
  7. Right-click on it and choose Go to details option. If can’t see Go to details option, click More details and repeat previous steps. Right-click 'Microsoft Edge' and select 'Go to details' Select 'More details' if 'Go to details' option fails to show up
  8. When Details tab shows up, find every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right click on each of them and select End Task to end these entries. Find Microsoft Edge entries and select 'End Task'

Resetting Microsoft Edge browser (Method 2):

If Method 1 failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method.

  1. Note: you need to backup your data before using this method.
  2. Find this folder on your computer: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  3. Select every entry which is saved on it and right click with your mouse. Then Delete option. Go to Microsoft Edge folder on your computer, right-click every entry and click 'Delete'
  4. Click the Start button (Windows logo) and type in window power in Search my stuff line.
  5. Right-click the Windows PowerShell entry and choose Run as administrator. Find Windows PowerShell, right-click it and select 'Run as administrator'
  6. Once Administrator: Windows PowerShell window shows up, paste this command line after PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> and press Enter:
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml -Verbose}
    Copy and paste a required command and press 'Enter'

Once these steps are finished, Hoho Search should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

Delete Hoho Search from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Mozilla Firefox is one of the unlucky browsers that the Hoho Search hijacker attacks. Below, we explain how to reset the browser after the virus infiltration and regain the control. Nevertheless, you should also remember to check your browser for additional extensions or add-ons before the reset. In case suspicious add-ons from unknown developers emerge, eliminate it unhesitatingly.

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Mozilla Firefox, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Add-ons Extensions. Click on menu icon and select 'Add-ons'
  2. Here, select Hoho Search and other questionable plugins. Click Remove to delete these entries. Select 'Extensions' and look for malicious entries. Click 'Remove' to get rid of each of them
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the menu (top right corner), choose Options General.
  4. Here, delete malicious URL and enter preferable website or click Restore to default.
  5. Click OK to save these changes. When in 'General' tab, delete malicious URL from 'Home Page' section or click on 'Restore to Default' button. Click 'OK' to save changes
  6. Reset Mozilla Firefox
    Click on the Firefox menu on the top left and click on the question mark. Here, choose Troubleshooting Information. Click on menu icon and then on '?'. Select 'Troubleshooting Information'
  7. Now you will see Reset Firefox to its default state message with Reset Firefox button. Click this button for several times and complete Hoho Search removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Get rid of Hoho Search from Google Chrome

You can get back the control of your Google Chrome browser fully, only after resetting the browser and rolling back the settings that the virus has altered. But you should not forget to search your browser for potentially dangerous add-ons and browser helper objects that the Hohosearch virus may have installed. After you delete them you can then reset the browser.

  1. Delete malicious plugins
    Open Google Chrome, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Tools Extensions. Click on menu icon. Select 'Tools' and 'Extensions'
  2. Here, select Hoho Search and other malicious plugins and select trash icon to delete these entries. Look for malicious entries and delete each of them by clicking on the Trash bin icon
  3. Change your homepage and default search engine if it was altered by your virus
    Click on menu icon and choose Settings.
  4. Here, look for the Open a specific page or set of pages under On startup option and click on Set pages. After clicking on menu and 'Settings', select 'Set pages'
  5. Now you should see another window. Here, delete malicious search sites and enter the one that you want to use as your homepage. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  6. Click on menu icon again and choose Settings Manage Search engines under the Search section. When in 'Settings', select 'Manage search engines...'
  7. When in Search Engines..., remove malicious search sites. You should leave only Google or your preferred domain name. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  8. Reset Google Chrome
    Click on menu icon on the top right of your Google Chrome and select Settings.
  9. Scroll down to the end of the page and click on Reset browser settings. When in 'Settings', scroll down to 'Reset browser settings' button and click on it
  10. Click Reset to confirm this action and complete Hoho Search removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Uninstall Hoho Search from Safari

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu at the top left of the screen. Once you do this, select Preferences. Click on 'Safari' and select 'Preferences'
  2. Here, select Extensions and look for Hoho Search or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Open your Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu section. Here, select Preferences as it was displayed previously and select General.
  4. Here, look at the Homepage field. If it was altered by Hoho Search, remove unwanted link and enter the one that you want to use for your searches. Remember to include the "http://" before typing in the address of the page. When in 'General', delete malicious URL and enter your desired domain name
  5. Reset Safari
    Open Safari browser and click on Safari in menu section at the top left of the screen. Here, select Reset Safari.... Click on 'Safari' and select 'Reset Safari...'
  6. Now you will see a detailed dialog window filled with reset options. All of those options are usually checked, but you can specify which of them you want to reset. Click the Reset button to complete Hoho Search removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

Access your website securely from any location

When you work on the domain, site, blog, or different project that requires constant management, content creation, or coding, you may need to connect to the server and content management service more often. It is a hassle when your website is protected from suspicious connections and unauthorized IP addresses.

The best solution for creating a tighter network could be a dedicated/fixed IP address. If you make your IP address static and set to your device, you can connect to the CMS from any location and do not create any additional issues for server or network manager that need to monitor connections and activities. This is how you bypass some of the authentications factors and can remotely use your banking accounts without triggering suspicious with each login. 

VPN software providers like Private Internet Access can help you with such settings and offer the option to control the online reputation and manage projects easily from any part of the world. It is better to clock the access to your website from different IP addresses. So you can keep the project safe and secure when you have the dedicated IP address VPN and protected access to the content management system.

Backup files for the later use, in case of the malware attack

Computer users can suffer various losses due to cyber infections or their own faulty doings. Software issues created by malware or direct data loss due to encryption can lead to problems with your device or permanent damage. When you have proper up-to-date backups, you can easily recover after such an incident and get back to work.

It is crucial to create updates to your backups after any changes on the device, so you can get back to the point you were working on when malware changes anything or issues with the device causes data or performance corruption. Rely on such behavior and make file backup your daily or weekly habit.

When you have the previous version of every important document or project you can avoid frustration and breakdowns. It comes in handy when malware occurs out of nowhere. Use Data Recovery Pro for the system restoring purpose.

About the author

Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate web researcher

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  1. Herman Loop says:
    May 27th, 2016 at 1:18 am

    I managed to remove the threat pretty easy. The instructions were clear and comprehensive, thanks!

  2. Alister Grey says:
    May 27th, 2016 at 1:19 am

    It looks like a nice addition to your browser, too bad its fake

  3. leo says:
    October 26th, 2016 at 11:17 am

    nice article further more for chrome
    it is because your pc has any backdoor services installed so just identify unknown services and delete them and this malware set chrome default search engine with any unknown search engine so delete this search engine from chrome and change your desire search engine

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