PCTechHotline Removal Guide

  • March 10, 2015

PCTechHotline is a Potentially Unwanted Programs, or PUP, that places an icon of a remote support person's head on the title bar of the active program. When you click on this head a nag screen labeled PCTechHotline will open that contains a phone number where you could supposedly receive remote technical support. This nag screen also has a System Check tab that displays a variety of other programs that they are trying to push on you. At the time of this writing the phone number that is being advertised is 1-855-650-2497 and the software they are pushing is Spyware Terminator 2012, PCRx, and Safety Optimizer. It is strongly suggested that you do not install any of these recommended programs as they are not ones you want on your computer.

  • PCTechHotline screen shot
  • Remote Support Head Icon

It is important to note that even though some may find this program to be misleading and annoying, it is not an actual computer infection. Rather this program is installed by free programs that did not adequately disclose that other software would be installed along with it. Therefore, it is important that you pay close attention to license agreements and installation screens when installing anything off of the Internet. If an installation screen offers you Custom or Advanced installation options, it is a good idea to select these as they will typically disclose what other 3rd party software will also be installed. Furthermore, If the license agreement or installation screens state that they are going to install a toolbar or other unwanted adware, it is advised that you immediately cancel the install and not use the free software.

There are reports that PCTechHotline does contain an uninstall entry within the Add or Remove Programs or Uninstall Programs control panel, but in our test we did not find one. For this reason we have created this guide in order to remove it even if the standard uninstall routine fails. Please use this guide to remove all remnants of the PCTechHotline program in the event that you are unable to uninstall it via normal methods.

Self Help Guide

This guide contains advanced information, but has been written in such a way so that anyone can follow it. Please ensure your data is backed up before proceeding.

If you are uncomfortable making changes to your computer or following these steps, do not worry! Instead you can get free one-on-one help by asking in the forums.
  1. This removal process may appear overwhelming due to the amount of the steps and the various programs used. Please do not be concerned as it is only written this way to give you clear and easy instructions so that anyone can use this guide. Before using this guide, you should print out these instructions and close any open programs and files as your web browser will need to be closed and your computer rebooted later in this fix.

  2. Before we do anything we first want to download Rkill in order to terminate any programs that may interfere with the removal process. Rkill will search your computer for active malware infections and attempt to terminate them so that they wont interfere with the removal process. To do this, please download RKill to your desktop from the following link.

    RKill Download Link - (Download page will open in a new tab or browser window.)

    When at the download page, click on the Download Now button labeled iExplore.exe. When you are prompted where to save it, please save it on your desktop.

  3. Once it is downloaded, double-click on the iExplore.exe icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with PCTechHotline and other malware. Please be patient while the program looks for various malware programs and ends them. When it has finished, the black window will automatically close and a log file will open. Please review the log file and then close so you can continue with the next step. If you have problems running RKill, you can download the other renamed versions of RKill from the rkill download page. All of the files are renamed copies of RKill, which you can try instead. Please note that the download page will open in a new browser window or tab.

    Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.

  4. When Rkill has finished, you now need to download AdwCleaner and save it to your desktop. AdwCleaner will scan your computer for adware programs that may have been installed on your computer without your knowledge. You can download AdwCleaner from the following URL:


  5. When AdwCleaner has finished downloading, please double-click on the AdwCleaner.exe icon that now appears on your desktop. Once you double-click on the icon the AdwCleaner program will open and you will be presented with its start screen as shown below. If Windows prompts you as to whether or not you wish to run AdwCleaner, please allow it to run.

    AdwCleaner Start Screen

  6. Now click on the Scan button in AdwCleaner. The program will now start to search for known adware programs that may be installed on your computer. When it has finished it will display all of the items it has found in Results section of the screen above. Please look through the results and try to determine if the programs that are listed contain ones that you do not want installed. If you find programs that you need to keep, then uncheck the entries associated with them.

    For most people, the contents of the Results section may appear confusing or as gibberish. Unless you see a program name that you know should not be removed, please continue with the next step.

  7. To remove the adware programs that were detected in the previous step, please click on the Clean button on the AdwCleaner screen. AdwCleaner will now prompt you to save any open files or data as the program will need to reboot the computer. Please do so and then click on the OK button. AdwCleaner will now delete all detected adware from your computer. When it is done it will display an alert that explains what PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) and Adware are. Please read through this information and then press the OK button. You will now be presented with an alert that states AdwCleaner needs to reboot your computer.

    AdwCleaner Reboot Prompt

    Please click on the OK button to let AdwCleaner reboot your computer.

  8. When your computer reboots and you are logged in, AdwCleaner will automatically open a log file that contains the files, registry keys, and programs that were removed from your computer.

    AdwCleaner Log

    Please review this log file and then close the Notepad Window.

  9. At this point you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, to scan your computer for any any infections or adware that may be present. Please download Malwarebytes from the following location and save it to your desktop:

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)

  10. Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including this one.

  11. Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mb3-setup-1878.1878- This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.

  12. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process. Do not make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave Launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.

  13. MBAM will now start and you will be at the main screen as shown below.

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

    Please click on the Scan Now button to start the scan. If there is an update available for Malwarebytes it will automatically download and install it before performing the scan.

  14. MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can take quite a while, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

  15. When MBAM is finished scanning it will display a screen that displays any malware that it has detected. Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image below due to the guide being updated for newer versions of MBAM.

    MalwareBytes Scan Results

    You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove all the seleted malware. MBAM will now delete all of the files and registry keys and add them to the programs quarantine. When removing the files, MBAM may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot, please allow it to do so. Once your computer has rebooted, and you are logged in, please continue with the rest of the steps.

  16. You can now exit the MBAM program.

  17. As many malware and unwanted programs are installed through vulnerabilities found in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer. A tutorial on how to use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs can be found here:

    How to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector


Your computer should now be free of the PCTechHotline program. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.

View Associated PCTechHotline Files

C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTechHotline.exe C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTechHotlineSvc.exe C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTHdesk.64.dll C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTHdesk.dll C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTHHook.dll C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTHHook.exe C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTHHook64.dll C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTHHook64.exe C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\unins000.dat C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\unins000.exe C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\unins000.msg C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\Update\ C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\PC Tech Hotline\PC Tech Hotline.lnk C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\PC Tech Hotline\PCTechHotline.com.url C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\PC Tech Hotline\Uninstall PC Tech Hotline.lnk %CommonStartMenu%\Programs\PC Tech Hotline\PC Tech Hotline.lnk %CommonStartMenu%\Programs\PC Tech Hotline\PCTechHotline.com.url %CommonStartMenu%\Programs\PC Tech Hotline\Uninstall PC Tech Hotline.lnk C:\Users\Public\Desktop\PC Tech Hotline.lnk %UserProfile%\PC Tech Hotline\skin\24x7bubble_Left.png %UserProfile%\PC Tech Hotline\skin\24x7bubble_Right.png . Various Image Files . %UserProfile%\PC Tech Hotline\skin\24x7bubble_X00.png %UserProfile%\PC Tech Hotline\skin\24x7bubble_X01.png

File Location Notes:

%UserProfile% refers to the current user's profile folder. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\<Current User> for Windows 2000/XP, C:\Users\<Current User> for Windows Vista/7/8, and c:\winnt\profiles\<Current User> for Windows NT.

%CommonStartMenu% refers to the Windows Start Menu for All Users. Any programs or files located in the All Users Start menu will appear in the Start Menu for all user accounts on the computer. For Windows XP, Vista, NT, 2000 and 2003 it refers to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\, and for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 it is C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\.

View Associated PCTechHotline Registry Information

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\PCTechHotline "C:\Program Files (x86)\PCTechHotline\PCTechHotline.exe" /STARTUP HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\{A0B0DA25-DD15-4739-92A3-62D3424F043A}_is1 HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\PCTechHotline HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\PCTechHotlineSvc

This is a self-help guide. Use at your own risk.

BleepingComputer.com can not be held responsible for problems that may occur by using this information. If you would like help with any of these fixes, you can ask for malware removal assistance in our Virus,Trojan,Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs forum.

If you have any questions about this self-help guide then please post those questions in our Am I infected? What do I do? and someone will help you.

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