Have you ever accidentally left a checkmark in place during an install? Ever ended up with some pesky toolbar, or other form of software that occasionally just pisses you off??
I recently had such an experience.
Silly me, I decided I'd try to make a few bitcoins (yes, I decided to see what the fuss is about) by trying some so-called "surveys." Of course, they're not surveys - they're "complete the offer to get the prize" scams. You can't even often tell when you've actually completed the offer... and end up signing up for a dozen spam sites you'll have to unsubscribe from that very evening.
One of the "offers" I wound up completing was for the Shop At Home website and toolbar.
While technically not a virus, it gave me so much trouble in removal that I was halfway convinced it was one.
They give a great deal of detailed information on how to uninstall and remove their software on their website. First, try "add/remove programs." It's possible it may be installed under one of two names. (Isn't that a bad sign, right there?) It may not be in the list at all, though. Now, if you're using Firefox, open the browser, and get to the /tools/add-ons. Click on the "Extensions" tab, if it's not already open. Now, if you're like me, you start to freak out: there's nothing there!!
Most people will probably see a list of add-ons, and be able to click "remove" with no problem. Not me, though! You see, the nice people at Yahoo! sometimes put a download link on their webpages saying that "your version of Firefox is out of date: click here to get the latest version." One time, some years ago, I did. These nice people at Yahoo! took their 3rd party version of the browser and modified it to make it more friendly to their own website and toolbar. They added the Yahoo! toolbar, with no option not to install it. Since the Yahoo toolbar is (mostly) harmless, I just unchecked it and forgot it was there. They also (so it seems) made everything on the extensions tab invisible, so there'd be no way to get rid of it. The best you could do was to uncheck the toolbar in the "view" menu.
I'm afraid I spent a little too much energy e-mailing back and forth with some poor soul working at the ShopAtHome help desk. Let's just say that, after a few e-mails, my attitude had become somewhat like... a jerk. It's embarrassing, you know? First, I had every reason in the world to believe that their simple looking bit of software had outwitted me, and all of my attempts to get rid of it. Second, why on earth couldn't they put together a normal sort of uninstall program that anyone could use? My verbal outpourings had, by the end, reached a point of threatening to go to every "partner" website they had and complaining about their virus-like software. Thinking back on it, it probably would have sounded a lot better if that's what the problem really was. Instead, I was just e-mailing outbursts of misdirected anger at someone who is (probably) innocent of wrongdoing. The problem was the 3rd party Firefox package I'd installed years before much more than it was of theirs!
To help prevent outbursts like mine, I'd recommend following these simple instructions: that if the Firefox browser was installed from a 3rd party website such as Yahoo, it may be necessary for the user to 1) Go to the Mozilla Firefox website for a clean download, 2) Uninstall Firefox (but it's not necessary to check the box for removal of user information), 3) go to /Program Files and delete the /Mozilla Firefox folder (the folder will be different on a 64 bit machine!), and then 4) run the freshly downloaded installation software. Upon opening the fresh install of Firefox, the ShopAtHome toolbar may still be at the top, but now you can go into /Tools/Add Ons and see what's actually installed in the Extensions tab. From there, it's simple to remove whatever you want gone.
I hope this helps others out there to remove toolbars they're getting frustrated over - I only wish there'd been information that would have helped me better, sooner!