Net Xpress: Spyware can be easy to remove, but sometimes it is tricky

March 28, 2004|SHEILA J. CLARK

A reader called needing help with the removal of a spyware program as I was beginning to write this column. I thought it would be good to share, should someone else encounter the same situation.

The caller had run her antivirus software and was alerted that there was still suspicious software residing on her system. The file given by her antivirus software was hbhostie.dll. With a quick search online I found that this file was related to a helper application called Hotbar. It is essentially an adware program that monitors your online activities and serves up ads according to your preferences.

Luckily, the removal of the program is fairly easy. Simply go to the Control Panel and select Add/Remove programs. Look for a listing called "Hotbar," "Web Tools by Hotbar" or in her case, a listing called "Windows Tools by Hotbar." Then click on the remove button and it should disappear from the listing.


If this doesn't remove Hotbar or a listing for Hotbar is not present in your Add/Remove programs list, you will need to perform some risky removal tasks that involve editing the registry. I wouldn't recommend messing with the registry if you are unfamiliar with it, as a wrong move could render your system unbootable.

You also should do a file search for Hotbar and delete any files or folders found. Detailed information for registry removal of Hotbar can be found at It is a good source of information not only for those doing the registry removal of Hotbar, but also for those wanting to learn more information about Hotbar itself.

My final suggestion would be to download an adware removal program such as Ad-Ware at

Free from Microsoft?

Try out Microsoft Office Pro 2003 for 30-days by simply going to The trial kit includes the trial versions of Access 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager, PowerPoint 2003, Publisher 2003 and Word 2003. Also included are a resource and information CD, and a Getting Started Guide.

Evaluation kits that are mailed are free but have a shipping costs of $7.95 for the first kit and $4.95 for each additional kit, with a limit of two kits per order. Each kit must be activated and can be installed on up to four different machines.

MSN Live online events

March 29: Recording artist Shakira chats at 8 p.m. Go to

March 30: Swedish girl group Play chats at 9 p.m. Go to

March 31: Pro wrestler/actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson chats at 8 p.m. Go to; 1980s girl band The Bangles chat at 8:30 p.m. Go to

April 1: "Hellboy" actor Ron Perlman chats at 7 p.m. Go to

Net buzzz

* Microsoft got a record fine set at $613 million from the European Union last Wednesday. The ruling comes because of rival companies' complaints of Microsoft's shady business practices. Read more at

* The response to Apple's iPod mini music player in the U.S. was so fabulous that the company had to push back its release worldwide from April to July. Learn more at

E-mail me at; fax me at (859) 236-9566; or write me snail-mail at The Advocate-Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Danville, KY 40423-0149.

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