iStart Search Bar


iStart is a software application that targets Windows browsers, causing them to open advertising sites without user permission. iStart also changes a number of browser settings in order to generate more ads and to keep tabs on the user’s online activities.


iStart appears in the top right corner of your desktop whenever you start windows

If your browser has recently been infected by this browser-hijacking app, you are advised to remove it as soon as possible. iStart itself is probably not going to cause any damage or corruption to your system or data, but its presence in the browser could potentially result in security weaknesses that may lead to attacks from hackers and more dangerous forms of malware (Trojans, Spyware, Ransomware viruses, and more).

The iStart Virus

Some of the most obvious signs that the iStart virus is attached to your Chrome, Safari, or Edge browser are the unauthorized replacement of elements such as the default homepage address or the search engine tool your browser normally uses. In addition, you may notice that the iStart virus new toolbar buttons have been added without your permission and that aggressive and questionable popups and banners oftentimes get generated on your screen even when you aren’t on a site that is typically known for such adverts.

Of course, all of this could make browsing the Internet quite the frustrating and unpleasant experience. For most users, this intrusiveness alone is enough to try to remove the iStart or the Dorputolano hijacker. However, even if you think that you can put up with the ads, the browser changes, and the automatic page redirects, it would still be in your best interest if you uninstall this invasive browser-redirecting app. The reason for that has to do with the potential security weaknesses this app might result in if it is allowed to stay in your browser for long.

iStart Webssearches

The iStart Webssearches browser hijacker app is mostly harmless on it own – even if some researchers refer to it as malware, the truth is that the iStart Webssearches hijacker app typically lacks any real damaging abilities. After all, the goal of applications like iStart Webssearches is to profit their creators through paid ads and site promotions that users are supposed to interact with. There’s no point in harming the user’s computer.

iStart Webssearches

The iStart Webssearches virus

However, this doesn’t mean that it is perfectly safe to keep iStart attached to your browser. The main security problem here is that the content normally promoted by software apps of the hijacker variety tends to be questionable or, at times, misleading. It is, therefore, not excluded that you may end up landing on a site that offers low-quality downloads disguised as useful programs. It’s even possible that some of the ads displayed on the sites you get redirected to could try to trick you into downloading the software they offer by outright lying to you. For example, you may get shown a warning about hidden malware on your machine that can only be removed if you download the promoted software. Needless to say, you must not trust such sketchy online warnings – it is far more likely to get your computer infected by some nasty Trojan or Ransomware virus if you download what’s offered on such sites rather than if you close the site and never visit it again.

If you want to stop all the aggressive adverts and page redirects, follow the iStart removal instructions below and you should be able to easily and quickly remove the hijacker.


Name iStart Search Bar
Type Browser Hijacker
Detection Tool

Remove iStart Search Bar

A quick way to remove iStart Search Bar from your browser is to go to its Settings, open More Tools/Add-ons, and then select the Extensions tab. Once you get there, search for any iStart Search Bar-related extensions and remove them by clicking on the Trash bin icon or the Remove button that is next to them. If that doesn’t resolve the problem and the browser hijacker keeps disturbing you, then please follow the detailed steps in the removal guide below:


For the smooth completion of the steps in this guide, we highly recommend that you boot your computer in Safe Mode.

Before you do so, however, first Bookmark this page so you can load it quickly after the reboot.



Browser Hijackers like iStart Search Bar may run one or more processes related to their activity in the Windows Task Manager. To find these processes and stop them, first, press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC together and click on the Processes Tab (the “Details” Tab on Win 8 and 10). Then, look carefully at the list of processes and try to locate the ones that are related to the browser hijacker. When you find a process that you believe is linked to iStart Search Bar, right-click on it and tap on Open File Location.


After that, drag and drop the files from that location in the free online virus scanner that is available here and run a scan:

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    End the right-clicked processes if its files turn out to be malicious and delete their folders from the file location. 


    Next, type Control Panel in your Windows search field and navigate to Programs>>>Uninstall a program.

    Once you get there, search for suspicious entries in the list of programs and Uninstall them if they appear to be questionable or seem to be related to iStart Search Bar.

    After that, close the Control Panel and head to the Windows Search Field. Type msconfig in it and press enter. After that, select the Startup tab and see if iStart Search Bar has added some entries there. If you find any, remove their checkmark and click OK. Pay extra attention to entries with Unknown Manufacturer and remove their checkmark as well if they seem to be unwanted or dangerous.



    Next, open the Registry Editor by typing Regedit in the windows search field and clicking OK. In it, press CTRL and F keyboard keys simultaneously and type the Name of the problematic browser hijacker in the Find box that pops up on the screen. Click on Find Next and if the find function detects entries with that name in the Registry, right-click on them and delete them. If no entries are detected in this way,  go manually to these directories and delete/uninstall them:

    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—–Random Directory. 
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—-Windows—CurrentVersion—Run– Random
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—Internet Explorer—-Main—- Random

    When you remove the iStart Search Bar-related traces from the Registry, close it and go to your desktop.

    Press the Start and R keyboard keys together and copy this in the Run box that pops up:

    notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts

    Next, click OK and you should see a Hosts file open on your screen. Scroll down and find Localhost. If your computer is hacked, you will see suspicious IPs below Localhost, just as explained in the image below:

    hosts_opt (1)

    If you see dangerous IPs below “Localhost” in your Hosts file, write to us in the comments.

    If you see nothing suspicious, move to the next step.


    Next, click on the Windows Start button and navigate to Network Connections. Once in it follow these instructions:

    1. Highlight the Network Adapter you are using and right-click on it.
    2. Next, click on Properties and highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 (ICP/IP), then click the Properties button.
    3. After that make sure that the Obtain DNS server automatically” is selected  and then click on Advanced
    4. In the Advanced TCP/IP Settings window, click on the DNS tab and remove any rogue DNS. Click  OK after that.



    The instructions in this step will help you remove iStart Search Bar from the most commonly used web browsers. Make sure that you apply these instructions in all browsers that have been affected in order to get rid of the browser hijacker completely.

    Note: For demonstration purposes, below we are showing the instructions in Google Chrome but you can apply the same for Firefox, IE or any other browser that you are using.

    Right-click on the browser’s shortcut icon and select Properties.


    Once you get inside the Properties window, tap on the Shortcut tab at the top. Then, find where it writes Target, and remove everything that has been added after .exe. Click OK to save the changes.

    Browser Hijacker Removal Instructions

    ie9-10_512x512  Remove iStart Search Bar from Internet Explorer:

    Launch the Internet Explorer browser and click  IE GEAR From the slide-down menu that shows up, select Manage Add-ons.

    pic 3

    Find the iStart Search Bar-related add-ons (it could be one or more) and Disable it/them. After that go back to IE GEAR, click it, and then select Internet Options. Check the homepage section for changes in the URL and if there are any, set your desired homepage and click on Apply.

    firefox-512 Remove iStart Search Bar from Firefox:

    In Firefox the instructions are almost identical. Simply open the browser and click  mozilla menu. After that, select Add-ons > Extensions and when you find extensions related to iStart Search Bar in the list, remove them.

    pic 6

    chrome-logo-transparent-backgroundRemove iStart Search Bar from Chrome:

    Finally, close Chrome (or whichever is the affected browser) and navigate to: 

     C:/Users/!!!!USER NAME!!!!/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data. 

    Search for a folder named Default, and right-click it. Then, RENAME that folder to Backup Default and restart the browser.

    Rename the Folder to Backup Default

    If iStart Search Bar doesn’t want to get removed after you complete these steps, scan your computer with the recommended removal tool and follow its instructions. Also, feel free to share your comments or questions with us in the comments section below this post.We wold l


    About the author


    Brandon Skies

    Brandon is a researcher and content creator in the fields of cyber-security and virtual privacy. Years of experience enable him to provide readers with important information and adequate solutions for the latest software and malware problems.

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