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Sandi's Site

Search engine problems

Hijack prevention

First, upgrade to Internet Explorer 6. Most sites that try to hijack your search engine will now trigger a 'do you want to do this' warning message that helps you prevent search engine hijacking and home page hijackings (and 'hidden' background install of spyware).


Go to IE tools, internet options, programs and use the option to reset the IE defaults. Reboot.

If that doesn't work, shut down IE and search for a *hidden* file called HOSTS (hosts.sam and lmhosts are sample files but are occasionally used in error). HOSTS is effectively a redirection file. Rename HOSTS to HOSTS.OLD -or- open using Notepad and remove any reference to the problem site/s (place a # at the beginning of the line or delete the line in its entirety).

Go to IE Tools, Internet Options, Accessibility. Make sure there is no style sheet chosen (under User Style Sheet - format documents using my style sheet). If the option is turned on, turn it OFF.

You may also need to delete the following registry keys:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\
Main\Search Bar

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\
Main\Search Page

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\
Main\Start Page

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search\

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search\CustomizeSearch

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\
Main\Search Bar

If the problem comes back after rebooting

Follow the advice at this troubleshooting link to see if you can track down what is changing your search engine options.

Once you are sure that your system is clean, try resetting IE's defaults again.

Make sure you have not been hijacked by a virus or trojan. Run a full virus scan using an up-to-date antivirus programme, and if it is your problem PLEASE update your version of Internet Explorer:

Adult content web site is unexpectedly displayed in browser window when you click on search;EN-US;Q323869 

Last resort

If, despite your best efforts, you have no luck AND you have MADE SURE that you have not been infected by a hijacker or virus, you can click on a link to download a zip file containing a txt file. Have a look at the text file to reassure yourself as to the contents, then change the extension of the file to reg. After you have made that change, double click to merge the file with your registry (or single click if you have that enabled on your system) - make sure you also follow the troubleshooting advice above, or you will have to repeat your repairs.

Make sure you know how to backup and restore your registry first.

IE4 defaults

IE5 defaults

IE6 defaults (Windows 2000 and up)

IE6 defaults (for all operating systems)