I've had this problem for some time on my XP, SP3 PC.
Your step 1 worked; checking the HOSTS file.
Thank you so much!
My HOSTS file had both google and bing in it.
Once I got around the file extension issue with notepad, it worked right away for both google and bing without re-booting or even re-starting Mozilla Firefox.
I also use and love MBAM. About 5 years ago, I was contemplating buying a new, faster, bigger PC for my office, because everything on it had slowed to a snail's pace.
I was running Norton at the time. On my tech's recommendation, I had purchased Symantec Corporate for all of the PC's in my office (all XP machines); expensive, but things only got worse!
His next recommendation was replacing all of the PC's.
Instead, I tried loading every other anti-virus software known to man (McAfee, AdAware, AVG, Avast, BitDefender, Grisoft, TrendMicro, etc.). Slower yet!
Keep in mind, I'm a businessman, and just want a working tool!
One day, in desperation, noticing that my PC was spending most of it's time running malware, to no benefit, I stopped work and started turning off and un-installing every anti-virus program, including Norton (not an easy task), as well as turning off the Microsoft firewall -- at this point, I was willing to overlook the ubiquitous "Your computer may be at risk" warnings.
It took several days to get rid of everything -- but things started to speed up!
Then, on a recommendation from someone at cNet, I downloaded MBAM, ran a scan, found and purged massive numbers of malware, and things got very fast!
The only problem remaining was slow internet browsing using Internet Explorer (5.0, I think). Tech says upgrade to 7.0; slower yet. Internet provider says to upgrade my bandwidth package -- no help.
So, once again, based on a cNet recommendation, I downloaded Mozilla Firefox -- BAM! Like having a new, incredibly fast computer!
So, I'm still running XP machines in my business -- and would probably have never changed; until Microsoft pulled XP support; and my software vendors are starting to follow suit.
I was wondering where those google and bing HOSTS file entries came from? In other forums, it was suggested that yahoo might have had something to do with it; but there are many "No, no, no" responses, but no actual fix for the problem.
I'm thinking yahoo; how about you?