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Home page problems

This advice covers three types of home page locking - locking (by ISPs and computer manufacturers), locking by "protective" software, and hijacking (by malware or viruses)

Manufacturer/ISP Locking

Some computer manufacturers and suppliers of internet access set IE to their choice of home page and lock this setting via the registry. Hijackers use the same trick. The locking is done using registry settings as per the following:

Home Page Setting Changes Unexpectedly, or You Cannot Change Your Home Page Setting (Q320159);EN-US;q320159 

Specific registry settings affected are:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel] - DWORD "HomePage"=dword:00000001 (grays out the whole section)

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer] - DWORD "NoSetHomePage"=dword:00000001

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Restrictions] - DWORD "NoSetHomePage"=dword:00000001

Protective software

Check your protective software (especially antispyware and antivirus).  Spybot Search and Destroy, for example has a feature that will lock your home page.  Other products that may lock your home page including Ad-aware's Ad-Watch, SpywareBlaster, SpySweeper, Norton AntiVirus, McAfee VirusScan and Antispyware, and both versions of Zone Alarm.

Malware and viruses

If your computer home page is set to about:blank against your wishes, or any other page, you have a malware problem. For advice on fighting malware, check out the link below:

If you are using Spybot S&D, check your 'Immunize' settings which may be locking your home page.

Prevent Hijacking

First, update to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for your operating system. Most sites that try to hijack your home page will now trigger a 'do you want to do this' warning message that lets you stop the process. The sneaky background activex downloads that are often used by hijack sites to install spyware will also trigger a 'do you want to do this' install window.

Please see this link for advice on how to prevent browser hijackings.

Make sure that your antivirus is completely up to date and scan all files on your computer's hard drive(s) regularly.

There is a little shareware programme that can help stop your home page and search engine settings from being changed.  The programme makes it much easier to take back control of your home page and search engine settings - mind you, there are other utilities, such as Spybot, that provide more comprehensive protection - this utility is purely to protect your home page: