Uninstall 180 Search Assistant

Sunday, July 18, 2004
By: Matthew Doucette

Warning:  180 Solutions is constantly changing their "180 Search Assistant" to disable your ability to uninstall it.  This article may be out of date.  That being said,  there are multiple ways to uninstall 180 Search Assistant, and some may continue to work forever, and some not.  Just be aware that articles such as this are not "timeless."


Read Me First

Please check out my 180 Search Assistant forum summarization (a must read) thread.  It is difficult to update this article as changes to 180 Search Assistant, and changes to how to uninstall it, occur.  This thread is a concise summary which includes links to helpful topics such as my 3 Known Working 180 Search Assistant Removal Methods thread.  Please feel free to contact us and tell us your thoughts.


Employee of 180Solutions / 180 Search Assistant

An employee of the company that creates 180 Search Assistant has posted in our forums.  These are his posts.  I must thank gbetz for posting as a lot of you have asked how to contact 180 Solutions.  This is your chance to speak one-on-one with one of their employees.  Please feel free to contact us and post your thoughts.


Uninstall "180 Search Assistant"

This is how to uninstall (or how to delete) 180 Search Assistant.

The size of this uninstall tutorial may scare you at first, but don't worry, it's actually very easy to do.  Just take your time.  Everything is documented in extreme detail to help you get through this very annoying procedure.  It is imperative that you uninstall this program from your system.

I know of no one who has ever installed this piece of spyware on their systems on purpose.  After an extensive search on the Internet, I could find no detailed tutorial on how to completely remove this junkware off your system, so I found out how to do it myself and documented it here.


Uninstall "180 Search Assistant" Via System Restore

Two people have contacted me and verified that Windows XP's System Restore will remove 180 Search Assistant.  I have never used System Restore, so I do not have the experience to document it in detail for you.  Basically, System Restore restores your system to a previous state (as in, hopefully before you unknowingly installed 180 Search Assistant.)  This link will help:

Use System Restore to Undo Changes if Problems Occur

If you are uncomfortable or do not trust System Restore to remove 180 Search Assistant, for any reason, then continue on.


"180 Search Assistant" Name Variants


"180 Search Assistant" Running Process Signatures

Some of these processes were found from Giant Company's website.  (Jan 05/05 Update:  I would post the link, but it no longer exists.  Also, Microsoft just acquired Giant Company on Decemeber 16, 2004.  Quoted from the main page: "On December 16, 2004, Microsoft announced its acquisition of GIANT Company Software, Inc., a provider of top-rated anti-spyware and Internet security products. Microsoft will use the acquisition to provide its customers with new tools to help protect them from the threat of spyware and other deceptive software. In addition, key personnel from Giant will be joining Microsoft’s security efforts.")


"180 Search Assistant" Other Files

These are other files relating to 180 Search Assistant that you may come across.  If you delete the directories as instructed in the manual instruction (further below) then, hopefully, all of these files will be deleted automatically.  Somtimes, however, this is not the case.  So I have listed them here.

Replace "xxxx" with one of the above running process names.  For me, "xxxx" was "msbb".  For example, "xxxxhook.dll" was "msbbhook.dll".  If "salm.exe" was your running process, then "xxxxhook.dll" would be "salmhook.dll".  Got it?  Good.


"180 Search Assistant" Possible Directories


Registry Editor


Uninstall 180 Search Assistant

There are two supposed methods of removing 180 Search Assistant:

  1. First, the "automated" uninstall, via "Add or Remove Programs", which does not work.
  2. Second, the manual, more complicated, uninstall, which does work.

I explain both uninstalls to show you what happens if you were to try the "automated" uninstall.  I appreciate any feedback on success and/or failures with removing this spyware.  (Please contact us.)


"Automated" Uninstall 180 Search Assistant (Does Not Work)

The "automated" or non-manual uninstall (via "Add or Remove Programs) of 180 Search Assistant does not work.

There is no non-manual uninstall of 180 Search Assistant that works.

It is not a mistake.  The automated uninstall was designed not to work on purpose.  The uninstall found in your "Add or Remove Programs" connects you to 180solutions website which runs their supposed uninstall code right off their website.  It does not work.  I have never received any information, what-so-ever, that this uninstall works.  Many visitors to this webpage, including myself, have tried it to no avail.

If the "Add or Remove Programs" uninstall does not uninstall 180 Search Assistant, what does it do?  It might attempt to install more spyware on your system.  It might not.  Who knows?  But, can you afford to take the chance that it doesn't harm your system from a piece of software that already has harmed your system and tricked you into installing itself onto your computer in the first place?  Of course not...

It is sad that the trusted  "Add or Remove Programs" has now been tarnished.  You can no longer rely on it to remove annoying spyware.

If you were to try the "Add or Remove Programs" to uninstall 180 Search Assistant, you would not only find that it does not work, but they lie to you as well:

A web page pops up and reads,

"We are sorry that you are thinking about uninstalling 180search Assistant. In case you did not realize it, 180search Assistant is permission-based search assistant application that sponsors free software and content sites. If you have 180search Assistant installed, then you have either downloaded free software we sponsored or visited a website sponsored by 180search Assistant. Removing 180search Assistant might remove or disable software applications you like and use everyday."

Do not pay attention to any of that ridiculous nonsense.  What 180search Assistant does, is not assist you in any way what-so-ever.  Instead, it pops up very annoying ads.  Popup blockers like Google's toolbar, will not block these popups as they are spawned from a program on your computer, not from a webpage you are visiting.  The program is so secretive, that many people who have it installed do not realize it and think the popups are coming from the websites they are visiting!  Imagine if this were your website and your business.  Good riddance!

Then a web page reads,

 "180search Assistant does NOT show pop-up ads - it only shows you websites we match up to targeted keywords that you type into shopping sites or search engines. Uninstalling 180search Assistant will NOT prevent you from getting pop-up ads. Uninstalling 180search Assistant will prevent you from seeing products and offers that you might miss out on the next time you are searching or shopping online."

More non-sense and outright lies.  The reality is, 180search Assistant DOES show very annoying pop-up ads.  In fact, it is so geared to show popup ads, its uninstall feature is a popup ad itself.  The uninstall feature itself is annoying.  Can this software get any more annoying to the user it is supposedly helping?  Unfortunately, yes...

Then, a web page reads,

"You have requested to uninstall 180search Assistant. Sorry you did not find 180search Assistant worth your while. Note: You must select 'yes' at the prompt to complete the uninstall."  

Then, a web page reads,

"You have successfully uninstalled 180search Assistant. Sorry you did not find it worth your while. Please come again."

At this point you would have been done with the uninstall.  But they have completely and utterly lied to you.  This uninstall does not work.  I went through this painful process and checked for the spyware and it still existed in all of its entirety.


Manually uninstall 180 Search Assistant

Warning:  "C: \ Windows \ srchasst \" is not 180 Search Assistant.  It is a part of Microsoft's Windows operation system.  It is the file/folder search found in the Start menu.

Before we begin, please note the variations of the process in '"180 Search Assistant" Running Process Signatures' section further above.

There are many variations of 180 Search Assistant.  What you have may not be exactly as described here.  The most common variation is the "msbb.exe" process, which this tutorial describes.  If you have a variation of it, then replace "msbb" with your variation.  It would not hurt to look for all of the above mentioned variations on your system.  Also, be aware that some files may be found in different directories and registry entries than listed here.  It is impossible for me to describe every variation.  Please educate yourself on finding and removing these pesky pieces of spyware by using this article as a tutorial.  As a disclaimer, only delete what you wish at your own risk.  (Worse case scenario is backing up your data, formatting your drives, and reinstalling Windows.)

An optional last step would be to search your registry for additional entries that are not listed here.  Before you do this, please read the section of this article that explains certain registry entries that I have discovered that seem to be, but are not, related to 180 Search Assistant.

You may go ahead and search and delete, at your own risk, any more registry entries you find.  What text should you search?  Try some of the name variations of the program listed near the top of this article.  Please contact us if you find additional entries.


Will 180 Search Assistant Keep Coming Back?

There is a chance that these instructions will not completely remove 180 Search Assistant.

What?!  It is true.  You may encounter one of two things:

  1. 180 Search Assistant re-installs itself.
  2. 180 Search Assistant recognizes it is deleted and asks to be re-installed.  (How can it do this if we just uninstalled it?)

Both of these problems are caused by what I call the host program.  Allow me to explain:

180 Search Assistant does not install on its own.  If that were the case, it would never get installed in the first place.  If it asked you to install itself, would you install it?  Of course not.  Nobody would ever download it.  So, 180solutions had to come up with a way to install a program that nobody wants with the permission of the very people who do not want it.  Is that even possible?  Yes...

Attach it to a program that people do want!

Then, when these people agree to install the program they do want, make them unknowingly agree to install 180 Search Assistant and cover the legality with fine print that nobody reads.  That's it!  Permission granted to install your unwanted program!  Soon enough they will start to receive popups they don't want and never asked for.  If you think you never agreed to install 180 Search Assistant, you probably didn't (in reality) but you actually did (technically and legally speaking).  The program that 180 Search Assistant is attached to is called the host program.

It is the host program that is causing 180 Search Assistant to not be "completely" uninstalled.  It's not that 180 Search Assistant is not uninstalled; it's that the host program keeps reinstalling it.  Find it and delete it.

Although what I have mentioned about the host program is not confirmed, it is a possibility you should be aware of.  I deleted my host program and the uninstall of 180 Search Assistant went perfectly.  Others, who have not deleted their host program still have problems.  The only thing I can conclude from this is that the host program is causing the problems.  What else could it be?  We just deleted 180 Search Assistant... so it can not be that.  Besides, the host program is what installed 180 Search Assistant in the first place, so it obviously has the power to do so again.

If 180solutions took care in having more legitimate business practices, then we wouldn't have to worry about how they might be tricking us.  It is preposterous to have to go to such measures, as all of this, to uninstall a piece of software that we never wanted to install in the first place.

Again, if you find 180 Search Assistant coming back again and again, then you must check to see if you have uninstalled the software that installed 180 Search Assistant in the first place.  This software, whatever it might be, may be re-installing 180 Search Assistant.  Any software that installs complete junkware like 180 Search Assistant is untrustworthy software and is not worth having on your system anyway... so remove it.  Now!


Additional Registry Keys Not Related to 180 Search Assistant

While searching through your registry, you may come across various keys that seem to be, but are not, related to 180 Search Assistant.

"HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Search Assistant" is Microsoft's search assistant.  Yes, it is also called "search assistant".  It exists in "C: \ WINDOWS \ srchasst".  As you may have guessed, "srchasst" stands for "search assistant".

This can be confusing it two ways.

First, if you have searched your files and folders for "msbb" then there will be an entry under "HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Search Assistant" with the value of "msbb".  For example, I found "HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Search Assistant \ ACMru \ 5603 \ 019" which contained "msbb" on my computer.  If I had searched for "xyz" instead, then the value of this key would be "xyz".  As you can plainly understand, this registry entry is not dangerous.  It is simply a recording of what you search for on your own computer.

Secondly, Microsoft's "Search Assistant" is commonly misunderstood for 180solutions' "Search Assistant", as they practically have the same name.  All registry keys of Microsoft's Search Assistant are not dangerous.  Check out "HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Search Assistant \ Actor".  It is the "actor" who talks to you in the lower left corner in Microsoft's file search.  By default is set to "c: \ windows \ srchasst \ chars \ rover.acs", which is Rover, the dog.

When searching for "searchassistant" you will come across some entries with values that contain:

These keys belong to Microsoft, not 180solutions, and do not have anything to do with 180 Search Assistant.

I stumbled upon this Microsoft website:  File Listing for Internet Explorer 5 (1 of 2), which clearly lists "SearchAssistantOC" as a file inside Iejava.cab.


Additional Information on 180 Search Assistant


Adware.180Search (Includes Adware.180Search Removal Tool.)

Ben Edelman:

180 Talks a Big Talk, but Doesn't Deliver (A must read.) 


The Ethics of / What is 180 Search Assistant

180 Search Assistant is spying on you.  It is recording everywhere you visit on the Internet and is using that information to send you popup advertisements geared towards the type of websites you visit.

"I really could not believe the log file after reading it... it logged minute by minute..."

Would you have installed it on your system if you knew all of this?  Do you even remember installing it on your system? 

"It just downloaded by itself on my computer. I say in my opinion it is a virus."

What is a "search assistant"?  Did you ask to be assisted in your Internet searching?  Even if you did ask, would you want it in the form of a bombardment of ads that cover up the websites you specifically requested to visit?  No... you would just visit www.google.com.

Most surfers do not understand popups anymore, as they are now spawned by websites and software programs (like 180 Search Assistant) installed on your computer.  Combine this with the fact that software like 180 Search Assistant spies on you, and that some do not even know they have 180 Search Assistant installed, and it can make things quite confusing.

A surfer will visit a website and receive a popup ad and assume the ad is from the website they are visiting.  This is no longer always the case.  If you happened to be conned or tricked into installing 180 Search Assistant, then you have a new process running on your computer called "msbb.exe" which "assists" you... and those popup ads will now, more than likely, come from this software.  How?  It spies on you, checks to see what website you are currently visiting, and then pops up the most appropriate ad, all without your consent... in front of the website that you meant to visit.

Imagine placing an advertisement that completely blocks out the front of a Wal-Mart store.  There are laws that prevent that from happening, right?

Now... do you really want a program that you did not want to install in the first place, a program that had to trick you into installing itself on your system, a program that is ripping both you, and the websites that you visit, off, and a program that makes it practically impossible to uninstall as it knows you'll be trying to uninstall it once you find out about it, to be spying on you for commercial profit?

Of course not.


Background Information on 180 Search Assistant

Consumer advocates claim that the software -- known as n-Case -- is parasitic adware that is often downloaded without a computer user's knowledge. They also claim that n-Case, which is being phased out and replaced by newer software called Zango, tracks what Internet sites people visit and then delivers pop-up advertisements based on those visitations.

Critics argue that the n-Case software is especially difficult to remove and -- while not illegal -- violates privacy.

Online chat boards have been established to advise people how to remove n-Case, with one recent poster calling it "a disaster waiting to happen to your computer." A recent report released by The Center for Democracy & Technology said 180solutions tricks users into installing the software by piggybacking on free software downloads and free online content.

The 5-year-old company operates in a murky area of online commerce -- tracking the Web sites that you visit and then delivering targeted pop-up advertisements based on those visits. It is a highly lucrative business, with the company posting eight consecutive profitable quarters and nearly $20 million in sales last year. But it is also a business with many unflattering nicknames: adware, spyware and scumware among them.

While there is nothing illegal about 180solutions' software in this state, some of its critics say the company tricks consumers and hijacks the revenues of affiliates, as sites that deliver traffic to online merchants are called. The software, known as n-Case or, in its latest form, Zango, is often downloaded with free software programs without a consumer's knowledge. Once detected, it can be painfully difficult to remove, according to critics.

"I have a strong issue with how they do their marketing," said Web Studio-1 Solutions' Chris Sanderson, who manages affiliate programs for online retailers. "I find it unethical, deceptive and downright disgusting."

I agree with Chris Sanderson.  180 Search Assistant is stealware.  Anyone who must steal to be profitable is demonstrating a lack of talent.  For anyone with true talent never has to rely on deception to survive.


Microsoft Does Not Support 180 Search Assistant:

It has been misunderstood that Microsoft supports 180 Search Assistant!  I have found proof that this is not the case:

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 317714

Microsoft's workaround?  "To work around this issue, remove n-CASE."


Is 180 Search Assistant Legal or Illegal?

Subliminal persuasion is against the law.  The ethics, morality, and legality of software that installs itself against your will and knowledge, and then does not allow you to uninstall itself once you realize both that you have installed it and the damage it causes, are questionable... I can not look at 180 Search Assistant and without concluding that it is stealing from its users.  It steals your time, your productivity, your computer's resources, and your identity.  Steve Gibson wrote an article which describes the Ethics of Anonymous Surveillance for Profit.  If you read anything, anything at all on this issue, read Gibson's article.  It is a must read:

---> http://www.grc.com/oo/ethics.htm <---

Steve Gibson created OptOut which spearheaded the spyware removal programs that now exist (i.e. Ad-Aware).  It is unfortunate that it has come to the point where we must install software to uninstall, or prevent the installation of, software that diminshes our productivity, damages our systems, and steals from us.  How much worse can you tarnish technology?

In an unrelated article, http://grc.com/su/benbrady.htm, Gibson asks, "Does Internet-connected software have a Social Responsibility for its actions?" I believe the answer is yes, too.  All software has certain responsibilities.  Among these responsibilities are some fairly obvious ones, which include not stealing, not installing without explicit consent, and uninstalling upon request (even you, Windows Messenger...)



Here is some feedback I have received from those this article has helped.  Please post your feedback to Xona's forums.

Thank you for all the helpful infomation that you have in your article.

Firstly, thank you for your removal walk through. It's nice to see there are still some people out there on the same side!

I recently visited www.sawtoothdistortion.com and the article on 180 search assistant helped me to delete it from my system. It was also helpful to my efforts in removing other such adwares / spywares. Thanks for the help.

Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the Zango uninstall instructions. The bastard was screwing up my home computer and I knew the auto-uninstall was crap so I'll be doing the other uninstall when I get home.

thanks for showing me how to get rid of that damned ad-ware. your instructions were easy to follow and got the job done. i half expected it not to work, because half of the stuff on the internet is crap anyways. but it worked beautifully. thanks for the help

Thanks for your instructions on getting rid of this annoying pest.

Dam finally!!! 180search assistant is gone... Thanks a lot for a flawless explenation on how to remove that dam "VIRUS" i dont know much about cpu´s and by folowing your instructions it was easy ... what else can i say except exelente work [cut] RUN FOR PRESADANTE ILL VOTE FOR YOU!!!!! (sorry about the spelling, my first language is portugues)

thanks very much for sharing your tips on uninstalling 180 Search Assistant... [cut] Thanks again for your efforts to help others keep their computers healthy and spyware free! :)

Thanks for your very informative and updated info on getting rid of this software. I think I have had all varieties (so far!)

I deeply appreciate for your help to me and to others. The instruction in your website had helped me to get rid of uninstall 180 search assistant from my 12 year old daughter's system. Again, many thanks to you and to your good wills to help all of us.

I had 180 search assitant on my computer coming up everytime I rebooted. [cut] It was very kind of [Matthew] to post this info and I just wanted to say thanks to him for helping me get rid of this darn 180. It was really a pain and I hope I never get it again.

After reading your article at sawtooth productions on uninstalling 180 search assistant I got all tangled up again with trying to figure out why it happened in the first place. [cut] I don't know what rights I have here. [cut] I'm pretty miffed about this advertising bull****. I just wanna surf in peace. I want a normal computer again...

Just to say how much I appreciated your information on how to delete the "Uninstall 180 Search Assistant".

thank you so much. My irritation is over. These spy programs are sly. You have saved my head.

Thank you for your web page on 180 search assistant, and for freely offering help to remove this program.

Subject: 180 ASS istant

Thank you very much for the removal guide. Where does this "CRAP" come from? Isn't this illegal?

Thanks Again!!!

I really couldnt believe the log file after reading it and how it logged minute by minute and exactly what it was trying to to do to the comp. [cut] Thanks for telling me what it was and how to uninstall it. It just downloaded by itself on my comp. I say in my opinion its a virus.

More generically, spyware seems to have crept us on us unawares. I am based in [cut]. I have been using ADSL for about 2 years. I have progressively updated virus checking and firewall - the firewall is a relatively recent addition. Yet spyware still gets through. The 180 stuff is the "stickiest" I have yet encountered. The waste of time suffered by what - thousands? tens of thousands? millions? of users, is tragic when that time could have been gainfully emplyed. Ultimately 180 Solutions reputation will suck more than it already does, as will, eventually, all firms that do this.

You clearly understand all this much better than most. I encourage you to do all you can to ensure that people's private lives are kept private, that people know what to do to prevent spyware occurring in the first place, and what to do about it when it occurs.

Hi I justed wanted to say Thanks for the help to get rid of this stupid thing.

I have been plagued with this thing for a month or more - I am convinced it was a major reason my new desktop never ran properly. Jst a few hours after applying your fixes, I think I am out of the woods...

I tried Aluria and NoAdware before I came across your July 18 article on the web. First piece of writing I have come across that was so easy to follow for such a technical fix. Still less than 24 hours since I saw my last signs of 180, msbb.exe etc but the signs are good. Can this company not be reported to the authorities in the USA? Surely this software cannot be legal?

Anyway, thanks for taking the trouble to write this up so effectively.

I wanted to personally thank you for your directions on uninstalling this spyware. For two months I have not been able to access the internet from my home computer because this thing was locking every up and not allowing the hyperlinks to work. I was about to tear down the computer and send it out for repair when I happened upon your article. I followed your directions [and uninstalled 180 Searcth Assistant] and everything seems fine now.

Thank you so much for your service.

Thanks a million Matthew, I can't thank you enough for your site on removing the 180 search assistant.

Your's is the only webposting that will remove that problem.  Thanks, and I hope you get the word out to more folks!

...I, too, had the misfortune of getting that damned program 180 Search Assistant, and I was trying to get rid of it again, ((It's gotten on my computer twice)) And I did the uninstallion, three times before it finally got "uninstalled". And I also removed it manually because, I don't want to have to uninstall it a third time, ... [cut] ... your website help me get rid of that ****ing thing. Thanks.

Thank you so so so much for the information on how to remove the 180 search assistant! It was a blessing for me! I don't know how it got installed on my PC y'day, along with loads of other spam and viruses, and i was simply unable to remove it! Thanks once again and keep up the great work!

Thank you so much for your help. I had no idea what it was or what is does- just that it didn't respond in the Add/Remove section and it was quite irritating. Your help seems to have worked.

Subject: Thank You! Thank You!

This morning I thought I was losing my mind because I couldn't delete the odious 180search Assistant horror from my computer. Fate brought me to your web entry and I followed the manual instructions methodically and seemed to have removed it...The only difference I experienced was that I could not find the 180solutions from the last step at HKEY_Local_Machine \ Software. Did I miss something? I didn't see it there. Anyway. Thank you for saving my sanity on Sunday! God bless your wisdom and patience.

[next email:]

Regarding my last message...I went back again to the final step on the manual instructions and DID find that final pesky 180solutions and deleted it. Whew! It's like fighting a staph infection! Again. Thank you!

Thanks for the info on the 180 Search assistant. It worked to remove that annoying spyware of my machine.

Thanks for helping me uninstall that *&^%$)(& 180 Search Assistant. I appreciate it.

Thank you for all the wonderful comments.  Please post your feedback on our  forums.


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About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $190,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.