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Launcher.exe : legal process or spyware?

by k5ox / October 10, 2007 8:09 PM PDT

I have a HP compaq notebook (1.8Ghz duo centrino, 2G RAM) with windows vista home premium. In the startup programs list I found a file called launcher.exe with these details

File Name: launcher.exe
Display Name: soft thinks Launcher
Description: Launcher
Publisher: soft thinks
Digitally Signed By: NOT SIGNED
File Type: Application
Startup Value: C:\Windows\SMINST\launcher.exe
File Path: C:\Windows\SMINST\launcher.exe
File Size: 44168
File Version: 1, 0, 0, 16
Date Installed: 5/8/2007 4:07:22 PM
Startup Type: Registry: Local Machine
Location: Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
Classification: Not yet classified
Ships with Operating System: No
SpyNet Voting: In Progress

I searched on the net and there seem to be divided opinion if this is a spyware or not. I run AVG anti-spyware, spybot and antivir regularly and they have not reported anything. any ideas?
thanks in advance

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I found this
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 10, 2007 8:29 PM PDT

at http://www.softthinks.com .
"SoftThinks is the industry leader in Software Deployment and Recovery solutions.

Dedicated to providing state-of-the-art software to some of the largest OEMs in desktops, notebooks and tablet PCs, SoftThinks mission is to provide simple effective solutions to meets the needs of all OEMs.

Founded in 2000, SoftThinks has grown rapidly to support a portfolio of the world?s largest companies in the computer industry.

HP, Compaq, eMachines, Gateway, ViewSonic, Alienware, Best Buy, MicroCenter, Dixon, ZT Group, Seneca Data, Tatung and many more are part of the SoftThinks family of OEMs."

So it looks like it is software to do with the 3rd party trial and other OEM software that came pre-installed on your Vista computer. Which means that it probably isn't a malware infection of any sort.

However the softthinks site doesn't give too much away and says nothing about the launcher.exe program. Is there anything else in that C:\Windows\SMINST folder that could give a clue, eg a ReadMe, or any other txt file?


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by k5ox / October 10, 2007 8:40 PM PDT
In reply to: I found this

Thanks Mark. well there are a few text files in SMINST directory, none of them readme. They look like logs more or less. For instance there is one txt file called CD Creator.exe which contains

CD Creator.exe - 7, 0, 1, 45 - Compiled on Mar 5 2007 16:56:24 - Executed on Jul 28 2007 09:50:13
-> 28/07/2007 - 12:07:37

In addition, there are applications like CD Creator or Bootimage_creator (plus some dll and sys files), so what you said makes sense. It might be a program that came with CDcreator or some such software. Is this helpful?

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Could be
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 10, 2007 8:53 PM PDT
In reply to: well..

Hi Raj,

Yep it could be. If there are other logs in there for other software, and all that software came pre-installed on the computer, perhaps its an inventory of some sort to do with installing the software.

I take it this is an OEM computer?

There are possibilities about this launcher.exe. It could be a helper to install the software, or even a helper to launch any of the software already installed when you want to use any of it. Or perhaps it is a utility that checks on the internet for updates, etc. That 3rd doesn't sound likely to me as often the OEM software is trial software only, and so would not qualify for upgrades.

Is it in your Startup folder or just in the Start > Programs list? If it is in the startup folder, (runonce is a clue), then it loads at boot up for some reason. If this were me I would move the Startup folder shortcut to a new Programs list folder I created called "Disabled startup", then reboot and see if anything happens. But then I don't like unknown processes starting when I boot up.

Perhaps the virus experts here will have better information.


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by k5ox / October 10, 2007 10:43 PM PDT
In reply to: Could be

Hi Mark,
Yes, its an OEM, HP Compaq 6710s.
It is not in my starup folder, however its startup type is listed as User Profile Startup Folder. And I found its entry in the startup programs list in windows defender. I did not fully understand the refernce to runonce.
However, I agree with you. I am not too comfortbale with unknown processes at startup.

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by Marianna Schmudlach / October 11, 2007 1:05 AM PDT
In reply to: hmmm
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by k5ox / October 11, 2007 1:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Launcher.exe

Hi Marianna,
I tried all three and while Jotti Malware scan and scanner.virus decided it was a clean file, there was one entry in Virus Total saying :

Prevx1 V2 2007.10.11 Heuristic: Suspicious Hijacker

full link : http://www.virustotal.com/resultado.html?ca24708f4cf6d702e3881fbc9afd11f5

The result was 1 out of 32 scans (3.13%) according to the software.
Do we go with the majority?
Thanks for your help.

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by Marianna Schmudlach / October 11, 2007 1:39 AM PDT
In reply to: results

..because: Prevx1 V2 2007.10.11 Heuristic

so, you are fine Happy

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by k5ox / October 11, 2007 1:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes.....

Thanks, Marianna.
I will sleep well tonight Happy

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(NT) Glad you got it sorted.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 11, 2007 2:23 AM PDT
In reply to: thanks
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(NT) Happy SAFE Computing :)
by Marianna Schmudlach / October 11, 2007 2:30 AM PDT
In reply to: thanks
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by k5ox / October 12, 2007 1:11 AM PDT

thanks, Mark and Marianna. Happy

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thanks, and additional question...
by captainbrad / January 25, 2008 9:58 AM PST
In reply to: thanks

First, thanks to everybody for answering my question about the origin of this file/process in my startup...saved my TONS of time!!!

I suspected this was causing my computer to hang on startup, after the login screen, so I disabled it. Startup now proceeds undaunted w/o hang. When I got the computer I uninstalled as much of the "crap" as I could, and I suspect that I removed something that this refered to and that's making it mad. My question is...is there a way to safely remove this as well? The anal retentive side of me is not content just leaving it "disabled" for the lifespan of my computer :-). Thanks!

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Wow Ty
by ComputerAid72704 / February 26, 2011 2:24 AM PST

I just wanted to say thank you, your reply was the first instance where there was any proof that disabling it or removeing would speed it up so i did and went from a 4min load to a 25sec load..... Thanks again

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Thanks to ALL ..
by djmaynyrd / March 21, 2008 8:23 PM PDT
In reply to: thanks

I want to thank, Raj, Mark, and Marianna.

I came in thinking I was going to be searching for, yet another one of those "unsolved mysteries"...but you discussion took me from the problem, to the end, all with the how and why explained, clearly.

I found the same thing in cleaning my Startup, and I was very pleased to find a quick, and accurate resolution.

Again, thank you all and CNET, too.

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by knguyen2008 / June 5, 2008 11:12 AM PDT
In reply to: hmmm

I've just bought an HP desktop and found Launcher.exe (in my Startup/Programs) that was used to launch a program that solicitate signing up for "Online Services" (such as AOL and others).

I guess in this context it is a "legit" program "implanted" by OEMs to launch certain other programs. By the same token it can also be implanted by any other people/software to launch whatever they intent to. That means the program itself is not a "malware", but the program it launches maybe.

Since it is a program that launch other programs, there ought to be a parameter or a list of parameters that are provided to this program to tell it what to launch - In addition to removing Launcher.exe from your startup\programs I suggest doing a "search" to find all entries in your computer that has the word "launcher", i.e. *launcher, and also remove those entries if you know what being launched isn't what you want.


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by Double-E / December 14, 2009 5:55 AM PST
In reply to: I found this

While i have no idea why it's named SMINST, it is the HP system restore directory/system/application.
I'd advise NOT to remove anything from this directory - I've had to recover my HP laptops once each and this was important to have. I think you can also run it from bios, but I'm not taking chances with recovery.

As to 'launcher.exe' I don't find that programs associate with rarely used applications need to be running in memory at startup. It probably is a general launcher application that softthinks uses for all their software. I'm disabling mine, but leaving it in the startup programs list.


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Launcher.exe : legal process or spyware?
by jjm77 / February 8, 2008 8:01 AM PST

I have a new HP laptop also, and after going to a suspect site,I have had my homepage redirected and can't fix it. All the scans come up clean, At first the virus protection found something, but got rid of it. This is the name coming up and it is NOT signed.Also strange things happen upon occassion

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Launcher.exe : legal process or spyware?
by poohkt / July 3, 2008 12:18 AM PDT

I have a HP Pavilion desktop. When I submitted Launcher.exe to the three sites:-
Found Virus.Trojan.Win32.Agent.ckk

Ikarus T3. 2008.06.30 Virus.Trojan.Win32.Agent.ckk

http://scanner.virus.org/ - All Clean

Please help - what is Virus.Trojan.Win32.Agent.ckk? How do I remove it? Can I disable Launcher.exe?

Thanks a lot in advance!

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Moving Launcher.exe
by knguyen2008 / July 3, 2008 4:44 AM PDT

I deal with it in a simple way. I'd just move Launcher.exe from its home which has the path: C:\Windows\SMINST\launcher.exe to (another) data folder to mess up the path to the program. It can't be executed if it cannot be found.

If it is not in that path, you need to search for the word launcher* in your hard drive/s. Make sure to check and turn on "systems files" in Folder Options first (under "View" tab, I think) so it would not be hidden from view.

As for the Trojan virus just scan your computer with an antivirus software. Trojan is a "older" virus most antivirus software would have had it "covered". It's faster that way.

Happy July 4th!

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Moving Launcher.exe
by poohkt / July 5, 2008 11:55 AM PDT
In reply to: Moving Launcher.exe

Hi knguyen2008,

Thanks a lot for your reply - hope you had a great July 4th.

May I ask - 'move Launcher.exe from its home which has the path: C:\Windows\SMINST\launcher.exe to (another) data folder to mess up the path to the program.'
- (another) data folder - where to create this? In C:, but not in Windows?

'As for the Trojan virus just scan your computer with an antivirus software. Trojan is a "older" virus most antivirus software would have had it "covered".'
- AVG Free edition found it clean. I'm wondering why all the anit-virus software at the 3 sites found it clean except for Ikarus. Also, I can't find info. on Virus.Trojan.Win32.Agent.ckk. Is it something I should be concerned about?

Thanks so much for helping a newbie here.

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by knguyen2008 / July 6, 2008 3:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Moving Launcher.exe

Hi poohkt,

You're welcome, I am glad to be of any help.

Reply to question 1: Yes, you're right. I would move the program "launcher.exe" to any directory in C (D,E,F, etc.) other than "Program Files" or "Windows" where a lot of programs and Windows Systems files are kept. Don't forget to write down the original path just in case you may need to move it back in order to launch whatever program you may need at a later time.

On question 2: I found some information about this virus on http://www.viruslist.com/en/viruses/encyclopedia?virusid=211717.

There is no further description of it on this website probably because this particular version of Trojan Horse is fairly recent (10/07) and is not widely spread. You can find, however, general info about Trojan Horse virus on antivirus software websites like McAffee.

I think each antivirus software company has their own database of viruses which maybe different at times. Probably that's why some viruses may appear on one company's database and not on others.

If you have any reason to believe that your computer may have been infected by any virus, please be very concerned; back up your important data regularly and make sure to run your antivirus program periodically to spot and remove virus when they are detected.

Have great fun with your new computer!

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by oliviamarin / August 17, 2008 2:21 PM PDT
In reply to: Launcher.exe

hello, I was also concerned about the same problem, but I went to the HP page and I looked there, according to what I read, it says that the soft thinks software is installed in the HP computers that have preinstalled system, it is esential in making your recovery disks in case your computer crashes. This means, if you have your recovery disks you are protected to reinstall all your programs from the D partition together with your recovery disks, if you don't have them, you need to make your set. The HP page also says that you can only make ONE set of disks and they only would work with that particular computer

you can


I hope this information helps

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About soft think launcher
by mimijel / August 23, 2008 7:40 PM PDT

Thanks so much!!!! After reading all of the posts, I still wasn't sure what to do. So, would you recommend disabling it until needing it for a system restore? Or just leaving it alone? I too am trying to clean up all the software that automatically starts on my HP notebook.

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think launcher
by oliviamarin / August 24, 2008 6:27 AM PDT

Well, since I am not a scholar in computing, I would not disable it because like I wrote, if the computer for any reason crashes, the only way to run the recovery disks would be if this program is working. Otherwise, if your computer crashes and you don't want to recover from the cd's then you would need to have a brand new or boxed windows system, plus all the programs that you need, and reinstall everything from the beginning like if you had formated your machine. I think if you need to format your machine, it saves you time to use the recover cd's instead reinstalling every program one by one (also you would need to get your whole set of drivers for your particular computer, I think you can download those from the HP page)

I Hope this help, good luck!

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the other software
by oliviamarin / August 24, 2008 6:33 AM PDT

You can disable this software by downloading windows defender from the microsof page, install it, and you will find in settings where to disable a lot of programs from start and still keeping them there in case you need them, also windows defender protects your machine against spyware

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restore or recover?
by oliviamarin / August 24, 2008 6:40 AM PDT

last coment, remember that softthinks launcher it is not related to restore point, but to recover. Restore doesn't erase files, it only makes a copy file in the system to restart your machine if it crashes, recover is like formating and you loose everything, it leaves your machine like it was when you just bought it from the store

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think launcher
by mimijel / August 24, 2008 5:49 PM PDT
In reply to: restore or recover?

You're right, I meant recover. I already have Defender, but noticed that it doesn't give me the option to disable it, so I think I'll just leave it alone. And I did make the recover disks when I first began using the laptop, so I would want to use them, thus this file, if ever needed. Again, thanks for the advice! Even though you might not be a computer specialist, like myself, you found the relevant info on the HP site, saving me and perhaps others time, which is often lost taking care of our computers. Happy

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by oliviamarin / August 25, 2008 5:25 AM PDT
In reply to: think launcher

You are most welcome!

Well I know there is a process to disable any program from starting, but I don't know how to use it well, I know that you go to msconfig (start, run, msconfig, enter) and there you can choose what programs launch when you start your computer, what I found is that when I did that, every single time I turned on the computer it stopped telling me that some programs where not starting with the rest and asking me if I wanted it to continue , it was so annoying that I just left it like it was from the beginning. Good luck!

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by J. J. White / January 16, 2010 1:10 AM PST
In reply to: softthinks

To all the contributors to this post: thank you for helping me understand this issue. I am transitioning from 'User who thinks they're an Administrator' to bonafide developer. VBAUnit is next - wish me luck!

- J.J.

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