Like many others, I installed Google Chrome on my computer shortly after it was released to the Web earlier in the week. There is much about it to like: the interface (literally, the “chrome”) is easy on the eye – contrasting strongly with Firefox’s rather utilitarian out-of-the-box experience – and very smooth in operation; click-dragging tabs to open as new windows being a particular highlight.

The practice of hosting each tab in its own process seems like overkill if/when most tabs contain a document for reading rather than an application for interaction, although this may seem a quaint observation in a few years’ time, when eight-core (and more) PCs are all the rage. It was with one eye on the proliferation of “chrome.exe” processes in Windows Task Manager that I spotted “GoogleUpdate.exe”.

As a rule of thumb, automated update processes and services which run all the time one is logged onto’s one’s computer but for which new downloads are only occasionally made available seem a bit of waste of time and space. And then there are so many of them: Apple has one for iTunes/QuickTime, Sun has one for Java, and Google has at least three of them – a “Google Update Service” (which is installed as a Windows Service) for Google Earth, “GoogleToolbarNotifier.exe” (which is installed as a start-up program in the Windows Registry) for the Google Toolbar, and now “GoogleUpdate.exe” for Google Chrome; and these are just the ones of which I have recent personal experience.

Would I that they adopted Firefox’s approach – checking for updates while the software is actually running. But they don’t, so I killed “GoogleUpdate.exe” on sight. A short while later, however, it was back; I just presumed that Chrome, which was still running, had detected its absence and re-spawned it, which seemed logical, given the nature of the application, and thought not more of it. Shortly after booting the computer, from cold, the following morning, I came across it again, but before I’d launched the browser; lacking an equivalent for either Live Bookmarks or Flashblock, Chrome has not yet supplanted Firefox.

Auto-update programs such as “GoogleUpdate.exe” are often launched, at system start up or user login, via HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run in the Registry, or maybe as an “Automatic” Service. But “GoogleUpdate.exe” is started via a task added to Windows’ Task Scheduler Library by Chrome’s installer. On my machine, this task was triggered to start “When [the] computer is idle.” It will literally start when you have your back turned to it.

Disabling the task prevents the program from being restarted at the next opportunity, and – as of the current version of Chrome, anyway – seems not to have any effect, adverse or otherwise, on the operation of the browser. Section 12 of the EULA does require users to “agree to receive.. updates” to the software and to “permit Google to deliver these to you”, but specifies neither a mechanism nor a schedule, so to invoke “GoogleUpdate.exe” manually (the path to the program is given in the task’s properties) would seem to be in compliance.

1 Response to “GoogleUpdate.exe”

  1. 1 lester September 17, 2008 at 10:56 am

    very good,
    thanks for posting this. finally i got it, after scanning for hours through the windows registry and messing around with entries over there to disable the annoyance of a respawning process called googleupdate.exe which was installed via the google earth plugin …
    then, i chose to use this solution:
    which works but isn’t that elegant… ;-0
    what i’ve learned about: look for the simple ‘knobs’ first….

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