Hotleaf “Virus” Removal from Chrome/Firefox/IE

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Having your browser invaded by a browser hijacker like Hotleaf “Virus” is surely a very annoying experience. Not only can’t you browse the web in peace, but your search engine and homepage have most probably been replaced by some unfamiliar ones and every time you try to search for a new page or open a new tab, you get redirected to a bunch of aggressive advertisements. It doesn’t matter if you are using some of the popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, IE or some others, they all may be invaded by such a program and the only way to deal with it and save yourself form its annoying ads, pop-ups and sponsored web pages is to fully uninstall it from your computer. This is what we are going to show you here, so stay with us until the end if you really want to remove all of its traces from your system. We have prepared some useful information about this browser hijacker and an easy-to-follow removal guide, which doesn’t require computer ninja skills to complete, so take advantage of it and save yourself from the Hotleaf “Virus” invasion.

What may Hotleaf “Virus” cause to your PC and why is it so annoying?

If you are reading this page, then most probably you are not really happy with the way that Hotleaf “Virus” behaves and the things that it does to your browser and your machine. This is a typical browser hijacker and its main purpose is to expose you to all different sorts of advertising content, sponsored web pages and promotions. For that, it uses some rather aggressive methods like page redirecting, intrusive ad, pop-up and banner displaying, homepage or search engine replacing, or simply put, “hijacking” your default browser. It also may apply some data tracking methods and very often may collect browsing related information such as bookmarks, browse history, latest visited pages, web searches, etc. for its marketing purposes.

All this invasion into the users’ space and privacy is done with one purpose – aggressive online advertising. Yes, programs like Hotleaf “Virus” are basically advertising tools, used by marketers, vendors or software developers, which try to promote their services, products or programs directly on the users’ screen. However, more often than not, in their attempts to advertise more and make more clicks and sales, they display way more sponsored messages than what the average users can tolerate. This often leads to irritation and some browsing-related disturbance, which makes the affected users uninstall the intrusive software from their computers.

Is Hotleaf “Virus” a legal program or some kind of a computer virus?

Browser hijackers like Hotleaf “Virus” are legally developed pieces of software. They have nothing in common with computer viruses or malicious online threats. In fact, these programs don’t even attempt to do serious harm to your OS or your files. They can only affect your default browser but they are not capable of corrupting your data or encrypting your files. A Trojan horse or a Ransomware threat, however, would have no issues doing that and even more. Moreover, real malware of this type will silently infect you and will do all the harm without you even knowing it. No browser hijacker can do that, therefore, security experts don’t classify it as malicious. However, even though it is not as harmful as a virus or Ransomware infection, a program like Hotleaf “Virus” may still be potentially unwanted. The constant browsing interruptions and the tons of ads that it is capable of displaying may really irritate users, so it is not surprising why some of them may wish to remove the browser hijacker from their machine.

What are the most common places where you can meet browser hijackers and how do they get installed on your PC?

Usually, you may come across programs like Hotleaf “Virus” on many web locations, but here are some of the most common places where they could be found:

  • Spam emails
  • Attachments
  • Shareware and freeware platforms
  • Torrents, advertising content and sketchy sites
  • Free downloads and automatic installation managers
  • Software bundles of attractive apps, free programs, players, games and optimization software

To start operating on your computer, however, you will need to install them on your PC. This usually happens by mistake or without knowing it, because most of the time browser hijackers come in a bundle with some other program. The moment you run the new installer, you may not be clearly informed about the presence of the hijacker inside the setup, and unless you carefully read the EULA or customize the bundle through the “Advanced/Custom” option, you will get it installed by default. So, be careful and always use this option instead of the “Quick/Standard” one, and you will keep such programs away from your PC.

Hotleaf “Virus” Removal

Before you begin completing the steps from the following guide, we advise you to place a bookmark on this page or have it opened on a separate device since some of the following steps will require you to close your browser.

Enter Safe Mode. If you don’t know how to do it, use this guide.

II 

Open the Task Manger by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Go to the processes/details Tab and take a look at the resulting list. If you see a process with the name of the unwanted program or looks shady, right-click on it and select Open File Location. If you believe it is part of the infection, delete the files.

III 

Use the Winkey+R key combination to open the Run window and in the search field type appwiz.cpl. Hit Enter and in the resulting list, look for recently installed programs that look potentially unwanted. If you find anything – uninstall it.

IV 

Re-open Run and this tie type msconfig. Hit Enter again and in the resulting window, go to the Startup tab. See if there are any shady programs there and if anything looks suspicious uncheck it and then select OK.

In the Start Menu search field, copy-paste the following line: notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts . Open the first result and look at the bottom of the file where it says “Localhost”. If there are any IP addresses below that, tell us what they are in the comments since they might be coming from the unwanted software.

VI 

Type Network Connections in the Windows search field and click on the first result. Right-click on the adapter that you are using at the moment and go to Properties > Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP) > Properties.

If the DNS line is not set to Obtain DNS server automatically, make sure to check that option.

Now go to Advanced > DNS tab and remove everything in DNS server addresses, in order of use.

VII 

Right-click on your browser’s icon and select Properties. Delete everything in Target that is after .exe”.

For Chrome users

Close Chrome and go to this folder: C:/Users/*Your username*/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data. Change the name of the Default folder to Backup Default. Re-open Chrome.

For Firefox users

Open Firefox and click on the Main Menu > Add-ons > Extensions. If you see anything suspicious there, remove it.

For IE users

When you open the browser, go to Tools > Manage Ad-ons and remove the unwanted software if you see it there. Next, go to Tools > Internet options and change the homepage URL to whatever you are normally using.

VIII 

Open Run (Winkey+R), type Regedit and click on OK. Next, press Ctrl+F and type the malware name. Hit Enter and delete everything that gets found.

If there are no results from the search, manually visit those folders in the Registry Editor.

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Main

If you find there any suspicious keys that have names with a lot of random letters and numbers, delete them or if you are not sure, tell us in the comments what you saw.

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