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April 12, 2009

Google Update, Open Sourced

It doesn't have an interface, it's always running in the background, ready to silently update your Google software: Google Update is the service that makes Google's desktop applications behave more like the constantly updated web applications. Unfortunately, the service has many bugs, it can't be disabled unless you uninstall all the applications that use it and there are some privacy issues:

"When GoogleUpdate communicates with Google servers, it sends IDs of GoogleUpdate-managed applications on your computer and general usage information for these applications. GoogleUpdate also uses its own, randomly-generated unique ID number to accurately count total users. This information includes version numbers, languages, operating system, and other install or update-related details, such as whether or not the applications have been run."

Some people are concerned that Google collects even more information. To show that these worries are misguided, Google decided to open source the updater, code-named Omaha.
Since Google Update is always running on your system, there's no simple way to stop it, and since it's a fundamental part of the Google software that needs it, it's not explicitly installed. Some users can be surprised to find this program running, and at Google, we don't like disappointing our users. We've been working hard to address these concerns, and releasing the source code for Omaha is our attempt to make the purpose of Google Update totally transparent. Obviously, we understand that not everyone is both willing and able to read through our code, but we hope that those of you who do will confirm for the rest that Google Update's functionality serves well to keep your software up to date.

A software that's always up-to-date prevents malware from exploiting the already solved security issues, makes it easier to report bugs and it's constantly improving, but Google should provide an interface that lets you control how often the service checks for updates and even disable it. Some power users think that the always-running updater is "a violation of my control as a user, a potential security threat, and an unwanted burden on my system and network resources, which are already stretched."


  1. I, for one, do not like Google Update running without my consent. That is the reason I use a portabalized version of Chrome and Earth and I manually installed Gears in Firefox.

    1. Google should provide an easy way to uninstall GoogleUpdate.exe instead of opening the code to make our PCs even more vulnerable.
      It took me hours to surgically remove all the GoogleUpdate.exe entries, binaries, cached versions, and backup versions.
      When I was done, I realized that it was still RUNNING AS AN EXTENSION ON THE OTHER BROWSERS such as Firefox.
      That is another Open violation to user rights, (just like MS, Adobe, Sun and the rest of the gang do all the time).

      While I like Goggle's spirit of innovation, I finally realized we are in the hands of another bunch of crooks trying to take over the world, just like Kaos, Trash, Khan, and the Daleks, but these are real and we are at their total mercy...

      Someone please AN ACTION SUIT !?

  2. I agree. For the most part, I love Google stuff but I don't need yet another program running on my system that believes it is the sole purpose of my computer (are you listening Adobe, Real, Intuit, Sun?). It's MY machine and I'll decide what needs to be running all the time.

  3. You can easily block it with a firewall. And when you want to update your Google software, you simply let the updater out temporarily.

  4. Interesting tidbit of information. Who is liable, if a Google Update would inadvertedly contain, say, a worm? Or simply a function that causes data loss?

    Class-action lawsuits, anyone ;-)

    Not that I am a legal expert, but this is the first thing that comes to my mind.

  5. "Who is liable, if a Google Update would inadvertedly contain, say, a worm?"

    Based on thet you can sue any company that has software which updates via the internet.

  6. It's cool they released the source, but now every developer with a bit of time on their hands is going to install their version of GUpdater when you install their software.

    What Google needs to do is open their system to allow others to update via GUpdater - with the usual disclaimers, etc.

  7. I like that Google did this. If people can see the source code when they have questions, that's much more helpful.

  8. Google Update can be disabled by msconfig or directly in the registry.
    to update Chrome, open it, about option, check

  9. How I HATE secret process that stay around and consume memory for occasionally needed updates. It's not like they push an update to their software 10 or 20 times a day. Frankly I prefer to download updates when I'm confident the software is stable.

    You can disable Google Updates in two ways on Windows:

    a) use msconfig and disable the registry entry;

    b) failing that use Control Panel > Admistrative Tools > Local Security Policy > Software Restriction Polices > Additional Rules

    Create a New Path Rule to disallow

    C:\Documents and Settings\achowe\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Update\GoogleUpdate.exe

    from executing.

  10. Update is not always better! But it is needed to go advanced. By passing fence, we go and Google is not difference!

  11. GoogleUpdate is obnoxious, you need to disable it from the registry and you also need to disable the task that runs periodically to stop it. Then anytime you update any google software or install new software you need to repeat the steps unless you just make a rule that keeps it from running entirely. Evil, evil updater.

  12. For what stupid reason you don't just create a new task with the Windows built-in Scheduled Tasks utility?

  13. what a bunch of whiney vaginas you are. every company has autoupdates these days. love them or hate them, it doesn't matter. it's reality. why this is centered around google I have no clue.

  14. >every company has autoupdates these days

    Most of them don't *run constantly*. Most can be disabled without hacks. Most are uninstalled along with the main program.

  15. No, every company does not fork off an extra process that continually runs in the background. Most of the software I run checks for updates when they first run after a reboot (Firefox, uTorrent, Adobe Reader &c). Most of the software I run lets me check manually (usually Help -> Check for Updates) if I haven't rebooted for a while (yeah, that'd be the week).

    NOTHING, except for Google Comeforkwithmysystem XP the next generation, feels the need to run a sleep-check-bother user thread in the background. I've disabled it. If that makes me a whiney vagina, so be it.

  16. I figured this would happen. Google really doesn't have too much to lose by open sourcing any code, and it gets a nice boatload of good PR too, courtesy of the various news aggregating sites around the world.

    What surprises me is that despite Google being as great as they are, that they don't offer more towards Linux. The GSoC is great, but only for college students... I want to see something for High School students too! And why do they keep rejecting the ReactOS Project when they keep accepting the Wine Project?

  17. google update is malware

  18. Google Update would be a lot better if it started up automatically and waited 10 minutes, then turned itself off. Then whenever you start another G Application (G Earth, IE w/ Toolbar, FF w/ Toolbar, G Chrome, etc) launch the updater and check for updates, and turn itself off.

  19. ARGH I really hate that background crap everybody and their grandma installs now. Why tha hell can't they check for updates when I start the program? or if it's running 24/7 check once a day.

    There is no need to make my task list 4 pages long and bloat the services so my machine feels like a pentium-3.
    Not to mention boot times when all this crap is starting....

    And some of them even makes computers unstable.
    I'm looking at YOU Adobe!


  20. I like how so many of these comments here are still showing outrage.
    Google makes the Updater Open Source so people can clearly see it isn't doing more than what it says it is doing and people still want to complain.
    Google just can't seem to do right by some people.

  21. It's running when I don't want it to, pops up at least once a day with some dumb Picasa update. Rather than update it I deleted it. That's what you get for trying to control my computer.

  22. When Google Updater did its thing on 08/11/2009 my virus program alerted me to this
    its labeled as GoogleUpdater.EXE but it was the Generic/Artmeis Trojan
    as the picture shows it loaded via GoogleUpdate.
    This is why i want control of what and when anything loads on my computer not some outsider.

  23. I never used much of the google software. Took to many resources. Now I have a quadcore Phenom AMD 64 bit, with 8gigs of ram. With vista 64 bit. It seems that the main problem with the Google desktop software is how intensive it is on the system.

    This is some thing that should be addressed, lower usage of processor and ram. As well as not updating constantly. Set a time frame of every day, every week etc... Most software I have seen has this option. Google does listen to its customer base, they are just slow and careful to implement certain things. Once google talk came out, it took them an extra year or two later to get video and more emoticons.

  24. Transparency is a good start. But.. It never should have gotten to this point. The way that GoogleUpdate is installed and runs is the very definition of malware. Please add responsibility to go along with this transparency and make GoogleUpdate either user controllable or completely optional. This is like applauding your neighbor for picking up their dogs crap from your yard. It should have been kept on a leash to begin with, preventing it from crapping in your yard in the first place.

  25. Great, spread the open-source love, and yes it is good for transparency too. So thank you a lot for this.

    1/ Do not install "updaters" on my computer without even telling me it will be installed.
    2/ Do not check updates if I did not ask you do to it, or at least had an opportunity to set/review the update check planification (And do not setup some Scheduled Task to resinstall it when I finally achieved to manually uninstall it ! I thought this one was somewhat obvious, only malware does this).
    3/ If I am not currently using one of your application actively, do not offer me updates. You're not running my OS (yet!), you are only providing third-party software for the moment as far as I know, so you are not entitled to "bother" me outside your applications... the fact that it is "easier" for you to manage all updates in the same program is irrelevent for us users.

    These are exactly the 3 points that made me suspicious about that "updater", and now about Google in general. That turst might never be restored completely, but you could at least try with more transparency to the end-users, not only for developers.

    Passed the three previous points ?
    4/ Then I should still be able to disable and/or uninstall ANY "updater" you offered me to install.

    Your role is not to force users to secure their computer (well, your application on their computer, to be precise). At very least you can teach them and strongly advise them to enable the auto-updater.

  26. Your typical windows user would have absolutely no idea what the task scheduler is or how to use it though.

  27. Great, spread the open-source love, and yes it is good for transparency too. So thank you a lot for this.

  28. It's an increasing regularity that you try a program, it's crashed or even in the case of google chrome on my machine, it causes the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. So of course i want to remove it. I unintall the software only to find it's still got googleupdate running witch for all i know is the real cause of my systems instability.

    Then I have to go arround on the net to find a proper instrucuion on how to compleatly remove this program without causing more problems. Witch it does.

    Im very disappointed with google. I thought they were the smart ppl making good clean software. I read all the articles the wrote on chrome & it seemed very user orientated. But this updater go's against that compleatly. Who cares if its open source & its intentions are clear. I dont want it & its been forced opon me.

    Door to door salesmen may have transparent intentions but that doesnt mean they have the right to enter my house & hide under the table.

    Google should have at least made it clear what it was doing to the user during install & asked for permition. It should have also made it possible to remove google update. ESP WHEN IM NOT USING ANY GOOGLE PRODUCTS FOR IT TO UPDATE!

    So now i have a tunnel running that bypassess all firwalls & security mesures I have to do who knows what & has the potential to destroy my system & it nevery made it's presence known.

    You should have to search the net to find ways to uninstall somehting. It should remove itself when you tell it to.

    I loved googles products untill it behaved like this. Never again. & I'l be sure to tell every1 that takes my advice on software to avoid google products in future.

  29. I have the same issue. Typically, there is absolutely no reason for me to run updaters on the background. I am a computer programmer, electronics engineer, digital photography and video aficionado, i make circuit boards and much, mich more. The point is, I have over 350 programs installed on my computer. I took a look at my task manager, and one day realized I had over 40 updaters running!!! Adobe, Quicken, Quickbooks, Google, Hp Updater, and on and on. Since then, I have disabled all updaters or removed the software for those that I couldn't.

    The point is, there is absolutely no need for every program to be constantly updated in realtime. Check for updates when it runs, or look for another customer. That simple. I will not stand for the consumption of memory and cpu time that they all take, ot to mention the startup time for all those backgrond programs.

    On to Google. I have uninstalled their updater using the googleupdate.exe -uninstall method. It reported that it was uninstalled. I look in the task manager -- it is still running. So, I uninstalled all Google software, and it was STILL running! I disabled the updater service,and got a NEW service installed, with an even more hard to find and isoteric name (quoted as seen in the services mmc) "Google Updater Service (gupdate 1c95c641895c6e6)". It resides just below the GoogleUpdater service that is disabled. It constantly reinstalls itself, no matter what I try. I suppose I'll have to walk through the registry to stop it. I searched fr and deleted every ocurrence of googleupdater.exe, but they keep reappearing.

    As I see it, this is THEIR last chance. If I cannot stop it, I'll do the registry thing, and mount a big blogging campaign against Google and their products. I already stopped using their search engine, once I learned that they store and analyze all of your searches.

    i am sick and tired of their determination to have a presence on my machine. I'll be "the decider" in the end.

    Update: I still haven't been able to completely remove the updater. It keeps wanting to reinstall itself, so no more Google products for me. I'll FORMAT my hard disk drive to get rid of them, if that is what it takes.

    It just goes to show that intelligence doesn't equate to common sense. Google employees may be intelligent, but...

    Now you know the rest of the story....

  30. Whether it's doing the right thing or not, I don't want a background software I didn't authorize running on my computer. That's as clear as it gets.

    Also, where is the uninstall? I did uninstall it via Control Panel, then checked to see it's still there (the service was running and scheduled task was there too). Even the GoogleUpdate.exe -uninstall method mentioned everywhere on the net didn't work. So I had to manually disable and delete things... Now there's a non-working/error-generating disabled service line on my Computer Management / Services page. Bullsh*t!

  31. i will uninstall all google related apps as i found that chrome installs auto updater WITHOUT even asking me to do so.

    this is a BIG red flag!

    i will also use a different search engine from now
    on and i will drop gmail

    for $ 20 per month i can run my own mailserver on my own domain with unlimited disk space

    skruuw google.
    they are already evil, they did not live up to their "do not be evil" mantra.

    it is just matter of time before they give the government access to
    all data that you ever sent over their servers

    Google is the big brother and who is to say that they will not (or have not) sell(sold) out to the highest bidder?

    even if their updater is benign initialy -- it does not mean it will not omorph into something more sinister

    everyone was jumping on Microsoft, what they did, but what about Google?

  32. I just uninstalled the Google chrome

    guess what?
    Google updater that was automatically installed without my permission did not uninstall!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    not even after the system reboot, so we know that this is intentional.
    Yes, the updater was still running and no, I do not have any goggle services like google desktop or google earth.

    Anyways, back to the matter;
    First, I had to manually search for the Google code and delete it from the registry while noting where the executable may hide. There was one key cleverly disguised as “goo…appxxxxx”
    Luckily I caught that key, otherwise, I am sure that dword within that key would install another instance of
    Google updater. But, the keys were pointing to multiple executables, not one!!

    I never seen this except while trying to remove the spyware programs.

    Yes, there were multiples regkeys and dwords that were pointing to Google updater.
    I deleted all of those manually.

    Then, a real shocker -- i found 3 Google updaters (executables) in 3 folders under my profile.
    Not one, not 2 but 3!!!

    So, if i just deleted one -- the one of other 2 would probably replicate itself. That explains why is so difficult to remove it as people have mentioned it already on this thread.

    this is the typical behaviour of the SPYWARE, not of legit software made by a legit company!!!
    This is 1000 times worse than what Microsoft ever did!
    Think about it!

    Anyways, as a pointer to where google.updater.exe could hide you can look in
    "C:\Documents and Settings\yyyy\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application"

    "C:\Documents and Settings\yyyy\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Update"

    "C:\Documents and Settings\yyyy\XXXXXXXXXXX\Google\Update"

    yyyy = your profile
    XXXXXXXXXXXX is some cryptic folder name (probably randomized).

    best thing is to do a full search for any EXEs in "documents and settings" ( *.exe ) then look for google updater files.

    I do not know what brain dead software developer chiefs at Google that are running this Google circus are thinking, but I think it is safe to say that this is the beginning of Google's end.
    yes, you heard it correctly!

    like many others, from now I am on mission on to expose those not so nice people at Google and their Evil policies. They had violated my trust and your trust.

    If I need to I’ll change the search engine every day until I find the one I like, the engine that is NOT snooping and collecting the data on me. Not to I have to worry about that, but this is just matter of principle.
    Enough is Enough!

    I will start with

    how can you trust company like Google that is using SPYWARE methodology to spy on you and me, a company that stores, then datamines all of our data? What will they do with it, and what they are already doing?
    Are they selling our personal information, or do they have plans to do so some time soon?
    Is that why Google updater is running in background? What data are they collecting, whom they are selling it to? People need to wake up and realize that ANYthing can be fetched off your computer once the Trojan horse like Google updater is running every time you start your computer.
    What is also very interesting is that Google chrome executables and updater executable are installed in user profile, not in “C:\program files” where the normal install path for all programs is.

    Why did they do that? Is it because it is easier to install it in user profile (less user rights needed) just like a Trojan would place itself there.
    Think about it!

    For me this is the last straw. Enough is enough!
    Google is Evil. Invasion of my computer is invasion of my pure and simple.

    To summarize: Google updater is the spyware and Goggle’s intentions are pure EVIL.
    There is no mistake about it.

  33. @Anonymous:
    According to Google, "Google Update Service uninstalls itself when there is no Google software using it. It may take a few hours after uninstalling Google software for Google Update to uninstall."

    I'm not sure that you can call "spyware" a program that's explicitly mentioned in the terms of use that you're supposed to read (but you probably don't), a program that doesn't collect personal information or Internet surfing habits, a program that doesn't interfere with your browsing by showing additional ads. The only things that are sent to Google's servers are:

    * randomly-generated unique ID number for your computer
    * IDs of GoogleUpdate-managed applications on your computer
    * general usage information for these applications: version numbers, languages, operating system, and other install or update-related details, such as whether or not the applications have been run

    So Google knows that the user #122434538 that has an English version of Windows XP SP3 uses the following Google software: Chrome 1.0.155 (launched 6 times in the past 30 days), Google Earth Plug-in 5.0.11 (not used since the installation).

  34. Google update has appeared recently on my task manager. I don't have any google programs however. How do I get rid of it?

  35. Alex Chitu :

    I too do not trust that Google is not sending other information.

    If you can trust them -- that is fine with me, but I do not.

    To me it sure looks like spyware anything that installs without my knowledge.

    oh, yes, do you always read terms of use?

    if you do -- you must be a lawyer

  36. Google start to behave like Microsoft! I hate this GoogleUpdate.exe in background! I found and deleted all GoogleUpdate.exe files. Why the heck it must be always in memory!? What part of their body thinks that this is excellent idea!???

  37. I just uninstalled Chrome because of this background crap googpeupdater. Enough is enough, i dont google to decide on my behalf wheter or when i need to update google apps. Even M$ didn't do that : Microsoft has an automatic upadte that you can disable it or instruct it to ask before downloading updates.
    I dont know why google peoples are doing this? Did they think they are smart and enough intelligent to decide what I my computer should be running. Well then You just lost one user.

  38. I downloaded Google Earth 5.0 and when it started talking about an AUTO-Updater, I canceled it and trashed the app. I do not want anything that decides what it will put on my machine and when. That's MY job, and MY prerogative. No Google Earth for me as long as they persist in this kind of malware intrusion on my machine.

  39. my computer has begun crashing recently and im getting the blue screen of death. After analyzing and researching I found out it was a program called google update. Now im researching what it does and Im not happy.
    Its bad enough that it runs in the background and we werent told about it and it seems to resist all efforts to uninstall it. but not its making my system unstable and crashing it intermittantly.
    Have you noticed lately when you do a google search the next time you open up a webpage the ad at the top is for the exact products you were just searching for. screw google

  40. I killed this damn thing after a firefox update and firefox has been unable to recover since, even after a restart. Going to addresses and searching randomly stops working, pages are randomly broken and it sends the request to instead, for awhile it was being sent to No idea how to fix it. Possibly spyware but I've scanned with Spybot & Adaware with no help. Any ideas email to zenteq(a)

  41. Other comapnies had autoupdate WHEN YOU RUN THEIR PROGRAM. Firefox check for updates when you start it.

    Not running in the background, even when you don't use their programs. I have Chrome installed and I almost never use it, but Googleupdate is running 200% of the time.

  42. After reading all this to here...All I wonder of is...why did some of my customers have to redo their machines because of blue screen this past year. On my machine, Norton caught and held the updater for 4 hours before I got to it and wasted more time researching why this is happening. The fact that Norton caught it and is waiting for me to allow the update bothers me, even though it does state low risk.

    On one hand you have to be a trusted source, as far as Google is concerned, if you expect to deal with them. And the other hand, well it looks and feels like that hand is firmly held to the floor by a big black boot that just seems to keep stomping on some things whenever necessary (auto-updaters).

    I for one, do not understand why MS or any other OS creator for that matter, has not created a stable overall system updater that reports to the user that these things have to happen and allows the user to choose when, where and under what circumstances, like a controlled situation.

    No, that would be too easy and half or more of the problems people have with their pc's may have possibly never existed due to some form of end user control, for system updating processes.

    At least then most people would be able to get some of the work done in the few extra minutes they thought they had in the morning or with whatever time they have, instead of sitting and waiting for their pc to do what its got to do, before being allowed to do what was intended to be done in the first place.

    Right now the way things are tied together tech wise with a pc, it is like having your cars accelerator pedal tied down to the floor and all you can do is hope like hell everything will be alright, while you sip your coffee waiting.

    Wasn't it nice to know when you could go get a cup of java, while waiting for the stupid machine to get ready to use a few years back.

    Now you are going to need a whole pot of jo and you won't even have a clue of what you are up against, since you did not sit and watch every little thing that was going on while you slipped away for a moment.

    Today is Halloween in the US and this update is too awfully coincidental, therfore no update for me today. And now a couple of more things on my to do list, like checking my customers pcs for traces of this...and then revealing to them a possible cause for their pc ills. is the domino's trust game. Hopefully I will be standing after the next move and then possibly later today, I can get some work done, instead of researching what has been going on while I was away.

  43. People care because Google has jumped on the "Net Neutrality" bandwagon to make sure what people say on the internet is fair.. That's why I don't want anything running on my computer without permission. Especially if it's an automatic Google.

  44. It would be great if Google added a download meter to Google Updater so that those of us without un-capped data usage can wait until the end of the month before deciding whether we have enough data to do an update. As of now, I have no way to tell whether an update will be 4mb or 400mb.

  45. I don't care why Google Updater is running or what it does. That's not the issue. The issue is that it's a nuisance, running without permission and annoying me with popups on a frequent basis. I do a lot of real-time work with audio CDs and DVDs and can't have a service like this running without permission. Whenever I install or upgrade a Google app like Chrome or Earth, this updater is also installed; so, I look for the latest procedure for removing it. I have an idea here, Google: instead of explaining what the Updater does and does not do via making it open source, why not just give us the option to disable it when we're installing one of your apps? Why is this so difficult? I've installed freeware programs from that provide such an option - i.e. to disable automatic updating. Why can't you?

  46. This sucks Google desktop wont download, even though i hit Download at least 15 times now. I also have a brand new computer so i dont know if thats the problem or not.

  47. Funny how Goog irresponsibly outs security vulns in windows xp, is facing criminal charges around the world for intentionally stealing and evaluating home users private network traffic.

    so good of you to open source a version of the updater sans your spy code. do the world a favor and open source the code you had running in the cars driving around stealing internet data?

    referring to legitimately concerned people who cannot stop you from stealing their data as "misguided" is an insult. you go through the trouble to create task scheduler entries in windows, defaulting service to on... im sure your company is smart enough to write an uninstall routine.



  48. I use google chrome only as one of my browser but i don't use any other google stuff since i don't need them though.

    I think there should be a disable/enable settings when updating google stuff so you can control what to install in your computer.

  49. and I came here to find out how to start the updater since I could not find it in my programs . Thanks for the info guys . I'll check my task manager

  50. I was surprised to see Google Earth suddenly get installed on my PC without my requesting it or even having been asked. I went an installed all Google software on my PC.

    Still, I found GoogleUpdate running even after I had uninstalled all Google software. I found it and deleted all the files. This has all the characteristics of malware or a virus.

    Never again will I install Google software on my PC.


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