While it might seem that it’s taken over your computer, it’s more than likely it’s taken over something much simpler: your browser.
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Whatever happened to Jeeves?
Ask.com is a simple search engine with a long history. Originally, the site was called “Ask Jeeves”, with its iconic butler persona encouraging you to simply ask it your question.
While the current site is fairly bare-bones, a lot has transpired between its origin and today. That history includes a period of fairly aggressive marketing that “forced” the ask.com webpage onto machines, much like we see potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) get installed today.
Given that ask.com is as simple as it is, that we’re revisiting this is somewhat surprising.
The ask.com takeover
If I had to guess, I think what happened to you involved some of Ask’s early marketing attempts, perhaps initiated by installing some relatively old software. It’s not something I’d expect of ask.com today.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to ever update or revise this article. My expectation that this whole “ask.com takeover” had faded into the sunset.
Three possibilities come to mind.
The first is that your browser’s homepage has been reset to be ask.com. That way, whenever you open your browser anew, the first thing you’ll see is ask.com.
That might feel like a takeover.
The fix is relatively simple: set your homepage to be whatever it is you want. My article How Do I Change My Browser Home Page Back to What I Want? covers the topic.
That is somewhat common. You’ll visit a site and inadvertently do something making that site your homepage. Every time you open your browser thereafter, that’s the page that shows up first.
The ask.com toolbar
Apparently, there is still an ask.com toolbar. This was one of the more common causes of “takeover” back in the day. The toolbar installed a kind of PUP, and all of a sudden ask.com was everywhere, or so it seemed. (Again, I don’t believe this is common with ask.com today, but the toolbar apparently still exists.)
In your browser, review your extensions, add-ons, and toolbars, and disable or remove any you know you don’t need.
It’s also worth looking in the Apps section of Settings, or Add/Remove programs in Control Panel. Look for anything related to ask.com and uninstall it.
Could be malware, of a sort
Since this is so completely unexpected, there’s a remote possibility that malware — specifically spyware — is involved. It’s worth making sure your computer is clean.
Run up-to-date scans with your security software, and consider running a scan with the free version of Malwarebytes from malwarebytes.org.
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14 comments on “How Do I Get Rid of Ask.com?”
Great article as usual Leo. However I beg to differ on Ask.com. Whilst it’s not alone, any product that has to resort to the , at times, covert means to push it’s self on to the unsuspecting public is borderline nefarious. Nero 10 was a good example. The ‘Ask’ bar was actually installed without a choice for the user. Cnet stopped pushing Nero for that exact reason. Ah it’s a sad world at times. Thanks for your news letter Leo. Love it.
Heres a tip to prevent this annoying toolbar from becoming installed again… Go to your firewall and make a rule that blocks both inbound and outbound connections from APNSTUB.exe and ApnToolbarInstaller.exe and any program that attempts to install the dreaded Asktoolbar will not be able to do it. Watch out for programs like FoxItReader because the last version of it that I tried to download failed to install because of it trying to install this apnstub, (as soon as I saw Eset’s HIPS warning say that apnstub.exe is trying to access my temporary folder I knew that I had to find another PDF reader. So far this has never failed for me and I have this blocked for over a year now. Good Luck and Happy Hunting!
Agree w/ Nick. Sorry, but Ask.com is absolutely not a reputable site, or company.
Yes, back in the old days they were good guys, but no longer. Now they are pushers of adware and unwanted toolbars. They are right in the murky gray area between aggressive click-marketers and criminals. Their current growth strategy seems to be buying struggling but reputable websites and leveraging those sites’ reputations to push more adware.
I don’t know how a good website degraded so badly; it’s probably an interesting story.
The original asker probably has picked up some adware, or worse.
Thanks Leo for your recommendation to obtain Advanced System Repair Pro! I got it and it cleaned up my computer like never before and now my video does not “freeze” for a second randomly and my cursor does not stop and start! Good advice!
I’ve never recommended that software.
Is it possible that Jimmy Anderson is a spammer…?
More likely he’s confusing an ad with a recommendation.
Hello Leo, for many years I’ve been a fan and user of Firefox. But I often find that there are many sites where I can’t fill out forms or input data in fields that requires it, particularly government sites. In these cases I have switch to another browser, that will remain nameless. (it’s from a large company in Western Washington)
It’s annoying but life is short and there’s no sense fighting something I’ve go no control over.
But I am curious, what could you speculate is going on. I’m usually happens like I mentioned when I am inputting data to register or purchase or verify identity. There only tool that is an active in my Firefox config is Adaware and a password tool.
Thanks for all you efforts over the years at explaining and educationing the public in technology
Sorry about this post, I didn’t read the instructions. It’s of topic and I will not expect an answer. I’ve never posted to you before. Please accept my apologies for wasting your time
Paul, despite it being off topic may I suggest that you have multiple browsers on your system? Yeah I know, complexity, but modern PC’s and laptops can certainly handle the extra software from an installation size point of view.
Personally, I have a Win10 Pro version of Windows. It has the following browsers in order of ranked use:
3: Waterfox (a Firefox cousin so to speak… works far, far better than Firefox IMHO)
5: Edge (think I’ve used it 3 times in the last 2 months and for very specific reason to see if issues I was having with other browsers was solved by using it. They weren’t so I assume it was connectivity issues per se rather than browser issues – went and read a book (gasp!) and everything was hunky dory after about an hour.)
I find that sometimes Opera comes up with an error message about not connecting to my banks website for online banking. Possibly due to flakiness over too many speed dial links.
Switch to Brave or Waterfox and bam I’m in there. I try and avoid Chrome due to its incredibly intrusive tracking issues.
I agree with Paul. My banking website doesn’t work in some browsers so I use Edge for that. The problem, in that case, is often with the website not being compatible with all browsers. I find it strange in my case, as it’s the biggest bank in the US, but often the answer to that kind of issue is to use a browser which works on that website. Having a few browsers is generally a good idea.
Adaware could certainly be responsible — adblockers often block more than ads. Try without sometime. But some websites are simply poorly coded and only work with some browsers.
Generally, I see ask.com and its pernicious toolbar pushed on users as a ride-along while other software is being installed. As an example, in the Windows world (Win 7,8, 10), if you download and seek to install Unlocker 1.91, there is an easy/ default installation and a custom one. One should NEVER use the easy/ default one, as it is almost always concealing PUPs – potentially unwanted programs. So, first piece of advice, always do the custom install.
Second piece of advice to use in conjunction with the first: Get a free small software program called Unchecky. As its name suggests, it unchecks boxes corresponding to those pesky ride-alongs. I’ve had a few occasions on some of my many machines where it missed some boxes (I own over a hundred) but for the most part it does as intended. And, you will know it, as unchecky resides in the system tray and will notify when it has done its thing.
(Dr. Michael W. Ecker, retired computer journalist and editor of Recreational & Educational Computing)
My bad experience with ask.com. I made the mistake of allowing them to answer a legal question and paid them the few dollars. In the following year, they attempted to deduct about twenty dollars sporadically from my credit card account that I had to get reversed. A few deductions were too old to reverse and they acted cagey. I consider them a criminal enterprise and look to skip them on any Google list.