What is search_protect.exe?

The genuine search_protect.exe file is a software component of StartNow Toolbar by Zugo.
A known adware program, search protect comes bundles with many software programs and installs automatically. It embeds in your browser and concurrently runs a background service. It tracks your computer usage and browsing history, and uses that information to present targeted advertisements and pop-ups. Zugo is receptive to user complaints and will provide removal tools if requested. Search Protect can also be removed via the Add/Remove Programs feature in Windows.

The .exe extension on a filename indicates an executable file. Executable files may, in some cases, harm your computer. Therefore, please read below to decide for yourself whether the search_protect.exe on your computer is a Trojan that you should remove, or whether it is a file belonging to the Windows operating system or to a trusted application.

Click to Run a Free Scan for search_protect.exe related errors

Search_protect.exe file information

Windows Task Manager with search_protect
Search_protect.exe process in Windows Task Manager

The process known as StartNow Search Update belongs to software StartNow Toolbar by Zugo (

Description: Search_protect.exe is not essential for the Windows OS and causes relatively few problems. The file search_protect.exe is located in a subfolder of "C:\Program Files". The file size on Windows 10/8/7/XP is 1,352,048 bytes. 
The program has a visible window. Search_protect.exe is digitally signed. The software starts when Windows starts (see Registry key: Run). The file is not a Windows core file. Therefore the technical security rating is 16% dangerous.

Uninstalling this variant: If you have any problems with search_protect.exe, you can uninstall the program using the Control Panel ⇒ Uninstall a ProgramStartNow Toolbar or ask the developer, Startnow, for assistance.

Recommended: Identify search_protect.exe related errors

Important: Some malware camouflages itself as search_protect.exe, particularly when located in the C:\Windows or C:\Windows\System32 folder. Therefore, you should check the search_protect.exe process on your PC to see if it is a threat. We recommend Security Task Manager for verifying your computer's security. This was one of the Top Download Picks of The Washington Post and PC World.


User Comments

There are no user opinions yet. Why not be the first to write a short comment?

Do you have additional information? Help other users!
What do you know about search_protect.exe:
How would you rate it:
Link for more info:
Your Name:

Best practices for resolving search_protect issues

A clean and tidy computer is the key requirement for avoiding problems with search_protect. This means running a scan for malware, cleaning your hard drive using cleanmgr and sfc /scannow, uninstalling programs that you no longer need, checking for Autostart programs (using msconfig) and enabling Windows' Automatic Update. Always remember to perform periodic backups, or at least to set restore points.

Should you experience an actual problem, try to recall the last thing you did, or the last thing you installed before the problem appeared for the first time. Use the resmon command to identify the processes that are causing your problem. Even for serious problems, rather than reinstalling Windows, you are better off repairing of your installation or, for Windows 8 and later versions, executing the DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command. This allows you to repair the operating system without losing data.

To help you analyze the search_protect.exe process on your computer, the following programs have proven to be helpful: Security Task Manager displays all running Windows tasks, including embedded hidden processes, such as keyboard and browser monitoring or Autostart entries. A unique security risk rating indicates the likelihood of the process being potential spyware, malware or a Trojan. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware detects and removes sleeping spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, malware and trackers from your hard drive.

Other processes

search_protect.exe [all]