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Remove Hotspot Shield Toolbar (Removal Instructions) - Updated Guide

removal by Jake Doevan - - | Type: Browser Plugins

The Hotspot Shield Toolbar might put your privacy at risk with its redirects

The screenshot of the Hotspot Shield Toolbar

Hotspot Shield Toolbar is a browser plugin that is closely related to Hotspot Shield VPN created by AnchorFree, Inc. Nevertheless, this tool is known as one of the most popular VPN service[1] providers; experts claim that it’s a potentially unwanted program (PUP) that has features of the browser hijacker[2] and adware[3].

HotSpot Shield might:

  • be installed on the PC silently with the help of software bundle;
  • initiate browser's redirections to unknown sites;
  • show continuous pop-up advertisements that are filled with insecure links;
    [4]
  • set new homepage and search engine to search.anchorfree.net or search.conduit.com;
  • add a new toolbar on the browser without asking user’s permission.

Despite these negative features; this toolbar is hard to remove too. Computer users report that Hotspot Shield won't uninstall as a regular browser extension. Indeed, it might be hiding deep in the system.

However, reputable security software should remove Hotspot Shield Toolbar without any problems. Therefore, if you want to avoid unwanted activities on your browser, you should install Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego and scan the system with the help of it.

Hotspot Shield violates user privacy and shares traffic with advertisers

The Privacy Policy of the Hotspot Shield states that the program might collect personal and non-personally identifiable information about users. Nevertheless, the company claims to secure aggregate data; gathered details might be still shared with third-parties.

Questions about Hotspot Shield Toolbar

What is more, in August 2017, the company was accused of violating users privacy. According to the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT),[5] the program can track and collect logs data, intercept the traffic and redirect to sponsored websites.

Moreover, CTD accused this VPN tool of injecting JavaScript code in various websites in order to display ads. Undoubtedly, developers profit from pay-per-click marketing. However, they put user’s privacy at risk even if they claim the opposite. Thus, Hotspot Shield removal is crucial for protecting your privacy.

The illustration of the Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield Toolbar might hijack web browsers and spy on its users.

The program has an official download website. Therefore, this toolbar can show up on web browsers after its installation. However, developers also take advantage of bundling and spread PUP together with freeware or shareware.

To avoid Hotspot Shield hijack, you should use Advanced/Custom installation settings instead of Quick/Recommended setup. Advanced settings reveal third-party apps and allow rejecting their installation.

Uninstall Hotspot Shield Toolbar from your computer once noted

To remove Hotspot Shield Toolbar, you have to get rid of a shady browser extension and uninstall the program from the PC. The instructions below will show you how to do it properly.

However, our colleagues from the Bulgaria[6] note that Hotspot Shield removal might be complicated, so in order to speed up the process, you should opt for the automatic elimination option with security software.

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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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar, follow these steps:

Delete Hotspot Shield Toolbar from Windows systems

Follow the steps below to get rid of Hotspot Shield and all its' related components from Windows OS. If your browser remains hijacked, you should opt for the automatic removal option and scan the system with security software.

  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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar and related programs
    Here, look for Hotspot Shield Toolbar 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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar 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 'http://isearch.babylon.com...' 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.

Get rid of Hotspot Shield Toolbar from Mac OS X system

Follow the steps below to get rid of suspicious programs and files that might be related to this PUP.

  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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar 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'

Erase Hotspot Shield Toolbar from Internet Explorer (IE)

Follow the steps below to clean Internet Explorer from tracking cookies:

  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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar 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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again

Eliminate Hotspot Shield Toolbar from Microsoft Edge

These guidelines will help you to fix Microsoft Edge after the hijack.

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, Hotspot Shield Toolbar should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

Remove Hotspot Shield Toolbar from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Uninstall Hotspot Shield Toolbar and reset Mozilla Firefox to continue browsing the web safely:

  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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar 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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Uninstall Hotspot Shield Toolbar from Google Chrome

Remove Hotspot Shield and other suspicious extensions, plugins or toolbars from Google Chrome.

  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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar 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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Delete Hotspot Shield Toolbar from Safari

These instructions will help you to recover Safari after the hijack:

  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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar 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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar, 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 Hotspot Shield Toolbar removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

Do not let government spy on you

The government has many issues in regards to tracking users' data and spying on citizens, so you should take this into consideration and learn more about shady information gathering practices. Avoid any unwanted government tracking or spying by going totally anonymous on the internet. 

You can choose a different location when you go online and access any material you want without particular content restrictions. You can easily enjoy internet connection without any risks of being hacked by using Private Internet Access VPN.

Control the information that can be accessed by government any other unwanted party and surf online without being spied on. Even if you are not involved in illegal activities or trust your selection of services, platforms, be suspicious for your own security and take precautionary measures by using the VPN service.

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

Jake Doevan
Jake Doevan - Computer technology expert

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