A URL Search Hook is used to identify the protocol of a Web address, such as "http://" or "ftp://." When you type an address into the location box, the browser will use the search hook to try to identify the type of address you entered.
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The URL Search Hook information is stored in your registry at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\URLSearchHooks.
The URL Search Hooks are called by the shdocvw.dll file that is loaded at system start up. Go to "Start," "Accessories," "System Tools," then "System Information." Expand the "Software Environment" list, then scroll down to find shdocvw.dll. This will show you the version number and file location for the DLL file.
Some viruses exploit the search hook by inserting their own information into the registry. If your browser is having problems resolving addresses and you suspect that you may have a virus, running a full virus scan at boot time should help to narrow down the issues and fix the problem.
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