back to article Google throws secret auto-updater to open sorcerers

Google has thrown a little-known but controversial part of its web services code to open sorcerers to prove to skeptics there's nothing funny going on under the covers. Oh, it also wants to give third parties a peek at what's going on inside your system, too. The Mountain-View chocolate factory has released the code of …


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  1. Charles
    IT Angle

    I must be an oddball case.

    I'll be honest with you. I took a look at my Processes list, and I don't see GoogleUpdater anywhere on my system. And I have Google Earth installed. Perhaps it's because I haven't used the thing since I last booted my system.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Google Updater

    And that's why I don't run any of the Google apps and do not use Google for searches...

  3. Caytie

    title required

    Can't you just block Google Updater from accessing the network with your firewall? Or will that break everything?

  4. Ross Fleming


    Sure there's a standalone version that you can install (pendrive compatible for example).

    Disabling the service and removing the Windows Scheduler entry seems to work though with no adverse effects.

  5. James Loughner


    This app does not seem to be on my system.......

    is there a Linux version I can try LOL

  6. Charles


    Windows Firewall only blocks incoming stuff. You need something like Zone Alarm (which I hate--resource hog) to block the outgoing traffic coming from GoogleUpdater.

  7. Stuart McLachlan

    Just Disable the Google Updater services

    It's simple enough to set the Status to "Disabled" using the control panel.

  8. Jeremy

    Very simple to disable.

    It ain't pretty but after failing to disable it by removing the scheduled task, service and registry startup entries, I eventually banished the pesky thing in the same way I disabled RealPlayer's irritating, self-resurrecting, omnipresent update process many years ago - just rename or delete the file.

    It doesn't matter how many sneaky ways they have to re-enable it through the task scheduler, services, etc, if it can't find the executable then it can't run, simple as that. No application can put the file back in the Program Files directory without throwing a UAC prompt alerting the user that it's trying to do so, so it should be gone for good.

    Goggle Earth and Chrome seem to run just fine with the GoogleUpdate.exe removed.

  9. Mark


    I much prefer the linux approach of package sources and updater - my experience being Ubuntu and it's synaptic package manager. That way you can monitor for updates of third party software and system software or turn it off if you please. Also have options regarding critical updates etc.

    The problem is, if everyone and their dog installs an updater, you'll end up with hundreds of the poxy things sitting around on the system if somethings not worked out. If this is where Google wants to take this then fair play to them else they're part of the problem.

  10. Rune Moberg
    Thumb Down

    Three instances...

    I had two services (not running, although they were set to "automatic") and one process going (presumably started by one of the services?).

    One service was named "Google Software Updater" ("C:\Program Files\Google\Common\Google Updater\GoogleUpdaterService.exe") and the other "Googles oppdateringstjeneste (gupdate1c9a3cf291cf151)" ("C:\Program Files\Google\Update\GoogleUpdate.exe" /svc).

    I hope they are both legit... I have a clean installation of only standard tools, so I'm surprised they messed up like this.

    The article touches on one interesting question... Almost every application now has its own updater running in the background. There is one question these companies need to ask themselves: "what will happen if everybody else does this moronic thing?".

    The apps should perhaps check on launch... Or let the user do it manually through the Help menu or something. But an update service? That is overkill in 90% of the cases.

  11. Chris Beach


    Why on earth do companies think they need updater's running in the background? Do any of them ever release updated daily? let alone more than once a day?

    Why not just do a check when launched?

    Secondly, Microsoft really need to open up and promote the windows update, so that users can just use the one update system!

  12. David Wilkinson

    unecessary ...

    Firefox checks for updates when I start it, as do many other programs. Usually they ask before downloading and installing an update.

    If you use a program a lot, you are certain to keep up to date. If you hardly ever use a program ... no resources are wasted.

    This type of behavior is at best annoying.

    Google should switch to each program managing its own updates. If they want to offer an uber updater ... fine, but make it optional and easy to turn off.

    That said I love using google pack to install software. You select what you want and it downloads, installs and updates. I'd love to see it expanded to include hundreds of popular free/open source programs for Windows.

    Last time I used it the updater program could be easily stopped from loading with Windows.

    Also last time I checked instead of adding software, they removed Sun Office.

    I think this only applies to Chrome users.

  13. Lukin Brewer

    I don't have it either...

    ...and I have Google Earth, and I haven't disabled or fiddled with the the task scheduler (that reminds me...). Perhaps I disabled something else vital to its existence - I did have a major process prune many years ago... (again, that reminds me....)

    Yes, the number of applications that poop update schedulers and other services onto your computer is annoying. Realplayer got replaced by Real Alternative and QuickTime by QTLite for that very reason. Also annoying are the tortuous, interlinked dependencies between Windows services, making it impossible to disable some bits of useless cruft without losing some components that you need. We also have Ubuntu here, and its update system is far more satisfactory, not to mention trustworthy - you never know what Redmond is going to spring on you next. Of course, Windows Update does encompass some third party drivers and stuff, but it looks like you need to be both pretty big and friendly/non-competitive with Microsoft before you can get on that particular train.

    In the absence of a unified update system, the way to go about it is to (offer to) check for updates when the application is launched. Lots of apps do it this way. I think Acrobat Reader did *both*, until I went at it with HijackThis (and replaced it with Foxit Reader when it became available).

    Look, here's another example: the (unused) LightScribe function of my DVD burner has its own service, running all the time. *clickety* Not any more, though. And time, I think, for another look at the rest of that services list.

  14. Chronos


    There's no such thing as an innocuous data leak. If it's done behind your back, without your permission, it's a security breach plain and simple.

    Google: Don't be evil - because we're watching you. One wonders if Brin, Page and Schmidt are pals of Wacky Jacqui...

  15. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Hack It !

    Presumably some enterprising individual can now modify the source, prevent it from phoning home or making unauthorised updates, drop it back on disk and have it running with Google Apps none the wiser ?

    Won't get rid of the bloat of it running but would restore privacy.

    I wonder how long it takes before there's a click-and-go download available ... and how long before there's one packed full of trojans ;-)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Also stops Adobe bloatware from bogging down your startup times...

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Ctrl + Alt + Delete

    >> That’s left people angry at this violation of privacy, and seen others temporarily turn off the process for a few hours at a time using the simple CTRL + ALT + DEL. (From the article)

    Pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete (twice) to reboot MS Windows only disables google update for the 45 minutes it takes to reboot MS Windows - on my PC.

  18. Charles

    Re: Ctrl + Alt + Delete

    You must have an OLD machine to be able to reboot from two straight three-fingered salutes. That sequence pretty much went dead with Windows 2000 (which, based on NT, doesn't allow for rebooting that way). In 2000, the three-fingered salute takes you to a special dialog. In XP and up, it brings up the Task Manager. And GoogleUpdater employs the Scheduler to reactivate itself should you shut it down.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Violation of privacy?

    Not at all. If the consumer has agreed to a contract (or EULA) with Google, than one of the terms would have been that Google will be using GoogleUpdater to update the apps installed on your system, and will be able to send data (if that is indeed the case) back to its servers. It is only a violation of privacy if you don't agree to it, and since you agreed to it when installing Google's software, it isn't a violation of your privacy. End of discussion.

  20. Jan Hargreaves
    Jobs Halo

    apple vs google

    apple have their own updater that seems to run hmmm... not very often. once a day maybe? once a week. im not entirely sure. perhaps the programs search for an update then launch the updater to perform the update. makes a lot more sense than yet ANOTHER process running all the time.

  21. Graham Marsden

    Does anyone else...

    ... keep reading Omaha as Obama...?

  22. Joe Harrison

    yes and me...

    I read Easter bonnet as Easter botnet. I think I need to get out more :(

  23. Jonathan Richards
    Black Helicopters

    Source is not enough

    To be really sure that you know what Google Update is doing, you need to compile it yourself, and compare it to the binary that Google distributes. And, as is well known, you need to be able to trust the compiler, too. It all depends on how paranoid you want to be...

    Helicopters: fwacka fwacka fwacka fwacka

  24. Pete
    Black Helicopters

    So uninstall it?

    Its right there in Add/Remove Programs.

    Of course, you've still got to go picking through your hard drive and startup to delete the files that are left behind to stop them running, but its by no means an essential program to have running. None of the Google apps (Google Earth, Picasa and Chrome (last time I tried it anyway)) complain about its absence or lack functionality.

  25. Dave


    There is also a registry key in: HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run loading GoogleUpdate on start-up so you will need to remove that as well if you really want to kill it off.

    If you want another *REALLY* irritating auto-updater then go look at Javas jusched.exe. At least on this XP machine I am working on at the moment, the Java Options to disable auto-updates are NEVER applied so it gayly goes off downloading the entire Java runtime whenever a new one is released *grrrr* Just die damn you, die die die!

    Oh and one more... Flash Updater / Adobe Updater. Several times now I have been prompted to download a new version of Flash on logging into Windows - but without having any kind of "check for updates" option set in Flash! Actually, Flash is just nasty since you can only configure it via some obscure web page at Urgh!

  26. Law
    Gates Halo

    RE: Very simple to disable.

    "if it can't find the executable then it can't run, simple as that. No application can put the file back in the Program Files directory without throwing a UAC prompt alerting the user that it's trying to do so, so it should be gone for good."

    That may seriously be the first real-world positive comment I've ever heard about UAC on a windows machine.... well done that man!! :)

    I'm a long-time google fan... but I must admit, convenience google app's are starting to come as a lower-priority now to my privacy and knowing what is/isn't transmitted from my machine... they should start to worry... I'm on the verge of ditching them

  27. Caytie

    @ charles

    the firewall on my motherboard enables me to block any process trying to access the network

  28. A

    Easily Killed..

    create this key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution\Options\GoogleUpdater.exe

    Create inside this key, a string called "Debugger", set value:

    cmd.exe /c echo %TIME% %DATE% >> C:\SuckItGoogle.log

    Then, every time the updater thinks about running, instead you will just get a line in ya log file.. of course, you don't actually have to set it to do anything.. it is just convenient..

    What works for malware, works for shiteware.. ;-)

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