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July 2, 2009

Google Update Always Running in the Background? Not Anymore

Google Open Source Blog informs that Google Update, the software used by Google Chrome and other applications for automatic updates, no longer runs in the background. "Until now, Google Update would always run in the background, functioning primarily as a reliable scheduler performing update checks at periodic time intervals. With today's release, Google Update now uses the Windows Task Scheduler to only run at periodic intervals."

I've checked the Task Scheduler and I've found that Google Update runs every hour. You can change how often it runs and even disable the task, but I'm not sure if other Google applications change your settings. "If this task is disabled or stopped, your Google software will not be kept up to date, meaning security vulnerabilities that may arise cannot be fixed and features may not work. This task uninstalls itself when there is no Google software using it," explains Google.

Since Google Chrome is regularly updated, it's not a good idea to disable the updater, thinking that you'll install the new versions manually.


The first good news is that you'll no longer see googleupdate.exe in the list of processes when you open the Task Manager. The second good news is that Google Update's team listens to users and constantly improves the software: Google Update is now open source and administrators can disable it using the Local Group Policy Editor.

43 comments:

  1. Great. Now do the same for Macs!

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  2. Yes I was just about to ask how and when will this work on my Mac? It this update also for the Mac version? Does the Mac have something similar to "Task Scheduler"?

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  3. Yes, Mac OS X uses "cron" for scheduled tasks. As far as how, when, or if Google will implement it, who knows?

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  4. Will this feature be auto updated to the google updater?

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  5. Sorry not good enough for me. There should be a 'don't install updater' option at program installations.

    I will not let any processes or service to connect to the Internet or even run.

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  6. Why doesn't Chrome just handle updates the same why Firefox does? All it needs to do is check (optionally) whether there are updates upon program load, and/or allow the user to manually check from time to time.

    I never understood why there needs to be a separate process/service/system task that has to do this.

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  7. Mike has hit the nail on the head.

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  8. Agreed with Mike - however it also applies to Google earth,talk etc.

    The advantage of only checking when the application is used is also that you know you have/(will soon have) an internet connection. Also that it would check a lot less often and only when necessary.

    Does the task attempt to dial a connection for users on dial-up/3G connections? It would be annoying if so.

    There really needs to be a global update service task provided by the OS that lets you register a URL, version, update interval and callback process to execute when the URL reports the version is out of date. The operating system can take care of the rest.

    This way it can be used for Windows updates, anti-virus updates and all other random installed applications. The current state of every app bundling it's own update checker is insane.

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  9. It's about time! Although Google seems to follow the 'dont be evil' mantra pretty well, this was an exception that always bugged me. One down , about 497 to go.... java, adobe, intuit etc.

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  10. YouTube also is getting a new look. You need a random cookie that you may get when you log in. The search bar is at the top right next to the logo and there's no more gray bar.

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  11. It's too late for me. I uninstalled every last bit of google desktop apps from my laptop. My games kept crashing and google update would frequently steal focus from my full screen mode media player so it would stop in the middle of a movie and revert to window mode. I trusted you, Google!

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  12. @mike exactly.
    @jan as have i. i will not consider using another google desktop app until they remove the update service all together.

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  13. You also can delete the task from you're system-tasklist if you don't want to update you're google software

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  14. Finally! Now do the same thing for cron, and that'll be my biggest Google-related complaint taken down.

    @shane File Hippo's Update Checker for Windows, App Fresh for Mac.
    And for other *Nix, you probably won't have to look far.

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  15. @Mike: Two reasons:
    * The UX of Firefox' updater is subpar -- it interrupts you right when you're trying to get something done and forces you to wait on something. It can also interfere with kiosk apps and similar (see a number of screenshots online of the Firefox update UI appearing on some embedded terminal). Also, for naive users (the vast majority), this update UI is somewhere between meaningless and confusing.

    * If the updater is part of the app, then if a bug in the app causes it to crash on load (e.g. because it mishandles profile data on disk or something), then the app can't update itself past the problem, and the user has to know to uninstall and then install a later version.

    Neither of these are much of an issue for the minority of users who are knowledgeable, but since Google presumably wants its products used by people who neither know nor care about updates, I suspect both of these are important to them.

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  16. I only wish i disabled this thing beforehand since the push for Chrome 2 completely RUINED my install of Chrome, and some stupid slowdown happens on every page load up until the page has finished loading. (100% across 2 cores)
    As you can tell, this becomes seriously annoying when you have pages lagging.

    This is why i uninstalled it, terrible excuse for an update.
    Until they can stop releasing buckled updates with NO way to go back, i will stay away from it.
    This is still one major problem with Chrome, no way to go back. Once that AUTO-update has happened, you're screwed if things go tits-up.

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  17. There should be a 'don't install updater' option at program installations.

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  18. If this task is disabled or stopped, your Google software will not be kept up to date, meaning security vulnerabilities that may arise cannot be fixed and features may not work.

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  19. Well, This task uninstalls itself when there is no Google software using it.....

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  20. > Now do the same for Macs!

    The Mac version already works that way: it uses launchd to run periodically (on Leopard only, since launchd isn't reliable for this on Tiger).

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  21. Scheduled tasks are always a better approach than always running apps which waste cpu cycles as they generally run an infinite event loop, which is never a good idea..

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  22. @natural acne - why would one stop the update service anyway?

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  23. I uninstalled every last bit of google desktop apps from my laptop. My games kept crashing and google update would frequently steal focus from my full screen mode media player so it would stop in the middle of a movie and revert to window mode.

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  24. This is still one major problem with Chrome, no way to go back. Once that AUTO-update has happened, you're screwed if things go tits-up.

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  25. There should be no checking for update or installing anything without the computer user's permission. Period. A smarter thing to do is how others e.g. Firefox, Opera etc implements exactly the same function. It asks for permission and if granted, checks when the user activates the program. All these security and vulnerability is just a bunch of crap.

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  26. This is a great tip man. I often wondered why it was set in the scheduler, but I will make it a point to not run as frequently.

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  27. Scheduled tasks are better approach than always running apps which waste cpu cycles as they generally run an infinite event loop, which is not good

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  28. Google updater STILL runs in the background without permission...google is no better than microsoft...sneaky and thieving!!

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  29. Auto update for Chrome works great. I love automated things. Hate to accept everytime a browser ask for update. Only the update, what's the deal????

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  30. There should be a 'don't install update' option imo.

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  31. Does the task attempt to dial a connection for users on dial-up/3G connections? That would really suck.

    These type of things are the once driving me nuts.

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  32. A significant number of the updates create conflicts

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  33. I think they should add that you can choose if you want to update on auto or not (with features)

    agrees with Anonymous: google does a lot of things without we are aware of it. Wonder what they do with all their information.

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  34. I agree with Mike, the users should have the option as to whether to load the update or not.

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  35. Yes me too, just like the other...it should prompt the user first..

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  36. Not a real fan of chrome though it has some pretty useful features. It constantly crashes my computer wasting a lot of time.

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  37. I haven't found any problems so far with my computer crashing because of Chrome but I will keep check of the updates running in the background. Thank you for the post.

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  38. You must not disabled auto updater since i have experience some errors when i've tried to disable it.

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  39. Does it have any warning when installing? it pulls out lots of errors

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  40. when i first saw google update(as a kid) i though it be some kind of keygen by the name of google and used to always close it :)

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  41. To anyone who runs into this article (like I did) on OS X you change the frequency of updates via the terminal

    defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval

    Where is the time in seconds you want to wait between each update.

    defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 0

    Setting it to 0 disables it completely, 604800 would be once a week, and so on.

    http://support.google.com/installer/bin/answer.py?hl=en&ctx=go&answer=147176

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  42. Why Google Update always trying to connect the internet? as I using the firewall I see that google update always try to reach internet. Since I have low and very expensive internet connection, i prefer that not to always update. The Questions is what is so important about the update? what if i just disabled it?

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