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Pokki virus. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Linas Kiguolis - - | Type: Adware

Pokki – a PUP that manifests highly questionable behavior as a Windows Start Menu

Pokki app screenshots

Questions about Pokki virus

Pokki is a legitimate application developed by SweetLabs, Inc in 2014. It is represented as a tool allowing to search for apps, files, power options, Control Panel features, and other options on Windows 8 and 10 with one click on the Start button. However, currently, most of the reliable AV engines detect it as PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program) or Win32/Pokki, while security experts recommend people to stay away from it. It seems that from a regular browser hijacker that replaces start page and search engine, it developed into a quite aggressive Windows Start Menu promoting misleading apps. Therefore, instead of being called Pokki’s Windows 8 Start Menu, it's referred to as a Pokki update virus. 

Name Pokki virus
AV detection name Win32/Pokki
Type Adware
Danger level Medium. The ad-supported applications cannot harm the system or files. However, they can display potentially dangerous content and increase chances to catch a serious computer virus
Symptoms Delivery of aggressive pop-ups, ads or banners, random text turned into hyperlinks, fill search results page with ads, sudden browser redirects to suspicious websites
Distribution methods  Software bundles, freeware or shareware download sites
To uninstall Pokki, install Reimage and run a full system scan

Pokki[1] is a program created by SweetLabs Inc which allows changing start menu on Windows 8 or 10. With the help of this app, users can simulate mobile app interface. Generally, this application is safe and does not include any malicious features itself. Or rather used to be safe. 

Even though it can hardly be described as a malicious virus, it can definitely be described as PUP due to tricky distribution strategy (“Bundling”), as well as highly suspicious behavior. 

The program has an official download site where a free download is available. However, most frequently it sneaks into the system unnoticed with the help of freeware.[2] For this reason, users often refer to it as Pokki virus. However, technically speaking, this is not a right term to describe it. It's a potentially unwanted application that can only cause problems while browsing the web. However, it does not mean that these activities should be tolerated.

The image displaying Pokki official site

Users usually learn about Pokki update virus when they unexpectedly receive a notification urging to install available updates for the program they haven’t installed. We have already told that program can get into the system with the help of software bundling strategy which allows infiltrating devices silently.

However, in 2013 the program spread pre-installed on Lenovo computers with Windows 8 operating system.[3] Though Pokki update virus is known as bloatware,[4] and these programs once in a while need to be updated too. Security specialists recommend finding and uninstalling this program instead of updating it.

Various antivirus programs detect this application as Win32/Pokki Virus BrowserModifier, PUP, PUA, and similarly. Based on the latest reports by security experts, it seems that the program is not changing its advertising strategies. Instead of improving its reputation, the company turns Pokki app to a more aggressive. Currently, it may not only install updates for itself automatically, but also download other PUPs alongside its updates or cause browser's redirects to rogue download sites. One of the symptoms indicating that the system is at the risk of PUP infection are pop-ups like that: 

Pokki has been updated to the latest version update.

The Start Menu Updated

There's no doubt that you should remove Pokki as soon as it is installed on your machine. It doesn't matter whether you installed it yourself in order to change Windows Start menu interface, or if it arrived in the software bundle, it's important to get rid of it because it might:

  • deliver an increased amount of ads that might redirect to misleading or even infected websites;
  • display banners, pop-ups and other types of ads might cover necessary content on the site;
  • redirect to fraudulent websites once you click on search results, links or it might open new browser tab out of nowhere;
  • collect information about users.

Pokki app sample
The developers claim Pokki to be the largest app recommendation platform

Authors of Pokki offers its promotional services to app developers. The developers tell that they have a partnership with computer manufacturers and can promote programs through Windows Start menu, App Store, and Game Arcade. Hence, such description proves that it's an ad-supported program.

Security specialists from LosVirus[5] warn that developers of PUPs or even malicious apps might take advantage of such service. For this reason, we recommend performing Pokki removal immediately. If it arrived on the system in the software bundle, you should use anti-malware software, like Reimage, to get rid of all its related components.

Suspicious data tracking tendencies

Before using any program, it's important to read privacy policy[6] where developers inform whether they collect information about users and how they treat users' data. Pokki developers clearly state that they are interested in specific information:

Generally, our Services automatically collect usage information regarding the software, apps and services you use or have downloaded or installed from us, such as the frequency with which an app or Service has been clicked or opened, and how long an app or Service remains open. We also collect installation information, which may include information on whether certain apps or Services have been installed or uninstalled, and how long a Service has been installed or used on your system.

Though they claim that such information is used purely for statistical purposes, they also mention that third-parties which promote their content via Pokki app may also use tracking tools. Thus, they cannot be liable for what tools these parties use and how they manage collected information. In short, while using this app, you may notice more excessive advertising[7].

Negative effect on system's performance

Pokki update virus can also have a negative effect on Windows 8 and 10 performance. People noticed that right after the infiltration of this PUP, the system gets more sluggish and unresponsive. One of the reasons might be a high CPU usage by pokki.exe or HostAppServiceUpdater.exe files. 

Pokki pop-up illustrated

Besides, it may run multiple processes and cause slowdowns during the active phase of update downloading and installing. Sometimes, a prolonged Windows startup process can be noticed. That's because Pokki adware can change Windows startup and enable related components during startup. Thus, that's yet another reason why you should respond to your web browser's hijack and get rid of this app without a delay. 

Distribution strategies used for spreading the program

Besides mentioned distribution method via freeware, you can also download the program from its official website. Additionally, this app might be promoted via sponsored domains. Pokki ads might be disguised. In other words, you might click on the link which does not indicate this program but redirects you to this domain.

Pokki official download website

In order to avoid installing similar programs, pay attention to the installation wizard. Despite what program you are about to install, optional add-ons may be promoted. In order to detect them, choose “Advanced” installation mode. Unmark irrelevant programs and continue proceeding further. Likewise, you will be able to prevent “Pokki hijack” and similar questionable tools.

Get rid of Pokki virus

You can remove Pokki manually via the Control Panel. If you still spot pokki.exe running in the Task Manager, you can scan the system with malware elimination tool. If you do not have one, install it as it will come in handy dealing with more elaborate threats.

After you complete Pokki removal, check the list of system apps. Additional programs may have been installed too. Uninstall them without any consideration. Moreover, you should look through browser extensions and remove unknown entries. Browser reset is also recommended to delete tracking cookies or other spying technologies. 

You can remove virus damage automatically with a help of one of these programs: Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes. We recommend these applications because they 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, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to remove virus damage. Free scanner allows you to check whether your PC is infected or not. If you need to remove malware, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage malware removal tool.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove Pokki virus, follow these steps:

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Eliminate Pokki from Windows systems

Follow these steps to uninstall Pokki and its related components:

  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 Pokki and related programs
    Here, look for Pokki 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'
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Get rid of Pokki 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 Pokki 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'
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Remove Pokki from Internet Explorer (IE)

These instructions help to revert changes caused by adware:

  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 Pokki 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 Pokki removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Erase Pokki 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, Pokki should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Uninstall Pokki from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

  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 Pokki 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. 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'
  4. Now you will see Reset Firefox to its default state message with Reset Firefox button. Click this button for several times and complete Pokki removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Delete Pokki from Google Chrome

Chrome reset is recommended to stop Pokki ads:

  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 Pokki 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. Click on menu icon again and choose Settings Manage Search engines under the Search section. When in 'Settings', select 'Manage search engines...'
  4. When in Search Engines..., remove malicious search sites. You should leave only Google or your preferred domain name. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  5. Reset Google Chrome
    Click on menu icon on the top right of your Google Chrome and select Settings.
  6. 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
  7. Click Reset to confirm this action and complete Pokki removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Eliminate Pokki 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 Pokki or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. 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...'
  4. 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 Pokki removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

About the author

Linas Kiguolis
Linas Kiguolis - Expert in social media

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