Pop-ups, redirects, and other malware

If you’re getting redirected from Google or seeing pop-ups, unwanted toolbars, or strange Google search results, your computer may have malware. Malware is software designed to take control and damage your computer.

Common symptoms of malware

  • Pop-up ads
  • Unwanted toolbars
  • Being redirected from a site you’re trying to visit, like your homepage or Google
  • Seeing a search engine that looks like Google, but with an unfamiliar URL or logo
  • Getting results from the wrong search engine
  • Inappropriate Google search results or ads

Remove malware from your computer or browser

  1. If you’re using Chrome or Firefox, use the browser reset feature to remove unwanted programs from your browser.
  2. If you’re using another browser, use antivirus software to detect and remove malware from your computer. Visit the Google Safety Center for suggestions on software that may remove malware.
  3. Check your computer for programs you do not recognize, and uninstall them. These programs may have names like "Browser Protect" or "Wysys Control."
  4. If the steps above didn’t fix the issue, create a post in the Google Search Forum about your issue. In your post, mention what troubleshooting steps you’ve already done.
Still having trouble? Try these more advanced techniques

These techniques involve some advanced steps, like reviewing and analyzing logs produced by your computer. If you're not sure how to take these steps correctly, you may want to ask an expert. Deleting certain lines in your HijackThis log can cause your computer to stop working correctly.

Use a bootable anti-virus rescue CD to scan your computer

If malware is preventing your computer from starting properly, you may want to use a bootable anti-virus CD to scan and clean your files. This type of scan helps detect malware that may be deeply embedded within your system files. This type of malware may go undetected when using normal anti-virus detection methods.

Turn off System Restore and scan again (Windows only)

System Restore is a Windows backup feature which periodically backs up files on your computer in case you need to revert to an earlier version of your operating system at a later point. If the malware was accidentally included in a system restore point, you'll need to disable System Restore before anti-spyware programs can remove the malware. 

  1. Clear your browser's cache and cookies.
  2. Go to the Start menu > Control panel
  3. Double-click System.
  4. Click the System Restore tab.
  5. Select the 'Turn off System Restore' checkbox.
  6. Restart your computer.
  7. Run anti-spyware programs again to see if additional malware shows up.
  8. Once you're done checking your system files for malware, remember to re-enable System Restore.
Use HijackThis to detect changed settings (Windows only)

Many people have used HijackThisto find settings on their computers that may have been changed by malware. HijackThis will create a log of files and settings for you to look at and determine if they've been affected by malware. HijackThis also has some support forums where you can post your log and get help. Google isn't affiliated with these forums, and we can't make any promises about the quality of the advice they might provide.

After using HijackThis, run anti-virus programs again to see if additional malware shows up.

Report redirects & malicious software to Google

Redirects

If clicking a Google search result or homepage directed you to a suspicious site, report the suspicious redirect. We’ll use this information to investigate malware activity and try to prevent it from happening to others in the future.

Malicious software

If you’ve found a site that you think has malware, report the malicious software.

How people get malware

Without meaning to, you may have downloaded a program that installed malicious software on your computer. 

Here are two common ways that people get malware:

  • Downloads: Sometimes you download a program to let you do certain things online, but the program also contains bad software. Even though you can see and use the program you wanted, the other program can be running in the background. These additional programs can do things like add toolbars or ads to your browser.
  • Extensions: Safe extensions that you have on your computer are sometimes purchased by malicious hackers. When they update the extension, they can install malware onto your computer.

To prevent your computer from malware in the future, only click links and downloads from sites that you trust.