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May 11, 2009

Google Chrome Has the Most Effective Updater

A paper published last week titled "Why Silent Updates Boost Security" showed that Google Chrome is the browser that has the most effective updating mechanism. Google Chrome's updater works automatically, it requires no user interaction and it can't be disabled from the interface. The report shows that 97% of the Chrome users had the latest version of the browser 21 days after its release, compared to 85% for Firefox and 53% for Safari.


"Google Chrome checks for updates every five hours. It is using the recently open sourced Google update component code-named Omaha, which keeps polling for updates even when Google Chrome is not running. (...) Once a new update is found to be available on the server, the client automatically downloads and installs it in the background without prompting the user. The new version of Google Chrome gets applied at the next restart of the browser. At the time of this writing, in April 2009, the user was not even prompted to restart the browser after a new update was ready. Given that the whole update process happens without any user interruption, Google Chrome is said to have a "silent update" mechanism. As of April 2009, the user could not disable update checks."

Other browsers don't include auto-updating mechanisms (Opera) or they have updating features that require user's consent (Firefox). Internet Explorer wasn't included in the report because its user-agent omits the minor version number and the results were compiled from Google's traffic logs.

Roger Halbheer, who works for Microsoft, has a more balanced view. "Silently installing components without even giving me the option to choose is not acceptable today for me – but I want to have the option to do it if I want."

Google Updater, the software that automatically updates Google applications like Chrome, Google Earth Plugin or Google Gears, needs to be more transparent and more flexible. Users need to be informed more clearly that the software updates silently and they need to have an option that disables the updater or makes the polling less frequent. What happens if the latest version of Google Chrome constantly crashes on your computer? You could install an older version, but Chrome will automatically update to the most recent version.

26 comments:

  1. Google is installing a service for that... I hope not everyone will do that: your system will be bloat out of its casing.
    I don't get it why developers don't use one (WU anyone) for updating. Much easier!

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  2. "Google Chrome Has the Most Annoying Updater", and therefore I don't give a damn about it... Oh, and did I mention magnificent possibility to install it where *I* want? Oh, sorry, this isn't the case here too.

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  3. Google Updater is the same as trojans and adware - silent, unknown activity, cannot be disabled. If you manage to shut it down, it will start itself by other means. If you manage to get rid of it, it will return to your system silently sooner or after.

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  4. this is nothing new. google talk was updated similarly from what i remember. picasa and other google apps are also update in a similar fashion though they prompt the user before updating.

    web browser are becoming increasingly complicated and it is good that the user automatically ends up on the latest edition.

    google enables you to pick your own channel... stable, beta and dev releases...

    since the testing is done in three phases... it is rare that a stable edition would cause problems for the users on that channel.

    in fact google had to release two stable editions last week because the first version ended up with some issues. so a new release was released within days...

    a lot of my friends are on chrome and they do not mind it auto updating itself. it is cool to find new features without the pain of updating manually.

    i am on dev channel btw and have never faced any issues with chrome on a daily use.

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  5. "a lot of my friends are on chrome and they do not mind it auto updating itself. it is cool to find new features without the pain of updating manually."

    Yes, some don't mind, but google doesn't give us option to disable it or any control over it whatsoever. I wouldn't mind, if I could disable this system service and activate only notification about update (with choice update/don't update) *when* I use given application. But hey, 1984 society did not have a say either...

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  6. The first thing I do after installing Chrome is to disable the service and remove the scheduled task.

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  7. Do they know that this is unacceptable in a corportate environment? System administrators want to know what is installed on users PCs and when. And in a network of Windows clients the the standard way to deploy software and updates is MSI / GPOs.

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  8. The main problem with that is bandwidth, as themselves told us that on this week there was no dev channel update because they've updated both stable and beta, consuming a lot of resources...

    http://googlechromereleases.blogspot.com/2009/05/no-dev-update-this-week.html

    I think this update model is great because if most companies used it, IE6 wouldn't be haunting us developers anymore...

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  9. This silent updater is precisely the reason I had to uninstall Google Chrome, after killing the service and seeing it respawn out of nowhere. It may make things more secure for the average user, but it does nothing to please the tech crowd.

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  10. "I think this update model is great because if most companies used it, IE6 wouldn't be haunting us developers anymore..."

    yes, and after a while we end up locked up by chrome-only webpages. Thanks, I'll pass :/

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  11. This debate is for a previous decade. Every web site updates itself silently, you don't install, and don't choose the version. There should be no difference for client software. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's mostly better than it used to be.

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  12. Does anyone here record audio or video on their computer? It's totally unacceptable to have the possibility of an update going on in the background when disk I/O and CPU usage is critical to preventing clicks, drop-outs, etc.

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  13. No doubt, but I feel the REAL question must be "is it needed". The I ABHOR IE updates is because they are continually to fix previously introduced problems. If they came out with a decent product in the 1st place we wouldn't need the D**N updates. Then of course there is the "bloat".

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  14. So...
    1) Google has decided it has the right to install software on my machine automatically, without my explicit permission whenever it wants. Anyone looked at Chrome's EULA to see what/if Google is restricted to doing? Heck even Microsoft gives me the option!

    2) Love to see what happens to a big company with 10,000 users in site and Chrome decides to trash their bandwidth.

    3) Lets' cross our fingers and hope Google never releases a bad patch that causes PCs to degrade or crash shall we?

    Or just uninstall Chrome?

    Personally I like Chrome - but this is the sort of practice that gave MS a bad name. Looks like Chrome is going to a Virtual pc session!

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  15. This is unacceptable. Google keeps most of their apps in the cloud and it is natural for them to update their systems anytime their want without notifying anybody. Extending these standards to desktop environment simply means lack of respect for already existing good practices in the software industry.

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  16. so how do you know that you are running the lattes version?

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  17. I can't believe Google gets away with this - it's simply unacceptable. This alone is a good enough reason for people to not want to use Chrome.

    This effectively means that you never know if a bug in the latest update is going to interfere with whatever you're currently doing. Say nothing of the security implications.

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  18. While this might be good for the average home users, as has been said it really SUCKS for the more technical advanced people.

    Fine, have this update system, but for the love of god make it OPTIONAL.

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  19. I use Returnil, one of the best free Security applications on the Planet.

    It protect my System Partion (C:\). NOTHING 'Saves'!

    Internet Explorer & Firefox allow me to Save 'Cache/Cookies/Temp Files' on another Partition (D:\). Where EVERYTHING 'Saves'!

    When you install 'Chrome', you are NOT allowed to do ANY of the following!:

    1. Install Chrome to another Partition (D:\).
    2. Save 'Cache/Cookies/Temp Files' on another Partition (D:\).
    3. Disable the Constantly Updating feature!!!

    Grrrrrrrrr!

    GIVE ME MY FREEDOM BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  20. @J2897:
    Not true. You can choose a different location for cache/cookies/history. Here's how:

    - create a folder where you want to move the data
    - copy the content of this folder:

    C:\Users\NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data [in Vista]
    C:\Documents and Settings\NAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data [in XP]

    to the folder you've created

    - right-click on a Chrome desktop shortcut, select Properties and appending the following value to the target field:

    --user-data-dir="D:\Your\Favorite\Location" (use the folder you've created)

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  21. I have opted to remove Google Updater for fear of bad updates being automatically added as mentioned, plus, I don't use Google services that much anymore. HOWEVER......I have 15MB of temp files that cannot be deleted no matter how I try or with what software. All related to updater. Registry has been changed, Chrome removed, Earth removed, etc. System rebooted. Etc. The temp files remain.

    Anyone with suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. It's 15 mb, chill out.

      Delete
  22. I see nothing wrong with a silent update, in fact it makes my browser more secure. Im sure as long as google doesn't mess up with an updat it should be fine (i mean even a manual/user prompted update can be bad and crash ur browser or os..so why ppl r making such a big deal abt it) and for big corporations how should it matter as long as backward compatibility is maintained...

    Look what is happening with IE, more people use IE6 than IE7/8 despite having better security features, because compatibility was not maintained between IE 6,7,8.

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  23. chrome 2.7 worked - as soon as the silent update occured to 3.0 it didnt - im an on a terminal behind a corporate firefall and have can't change lan setting (HOW MUCH I TRY TO!!) how about a Dont update or a revert back option.

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  24. WTF this is done purposely and not manually u cant even disable it > Chrome

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  25. For as much hate as it gets for this, I love it. Chrome is my browser of choice and it's one less annoying update to do, maybe if it was software that I didn't use much I'd be annoyed. But I like chrome, and have it opened enough that I don't want to be annoyed by an updater. If you don't like it for that reason, run Firefox! It's not the only browser people.

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