The current version plugin of Google Update is one of those mysterious plugins that you may find listed in the plugins listing of the Firefox web browser without really knowing what it does or how it got there. This article tries to shed some light on how it gets installed, what it is used for, how you can update it to the current version, and how you can get rid of it again either by disabling or uninstalling completely.
Google Update gets installed with a variety of Google desktop programs on Windows. The Chrome browser is without doubt the most prominent example but there are other tools like Google Earth that may also install the plugin on the system.
Google itself distinguishes between Google Updater (GoogleUpdater.exe) which is installed during the installation of Google Pack and Google Earth, and Google Update (GoogleUpdate.exe) which is a component of the Chrome browser and Google Earth. The former provides users with an interface to manage Google Earth and Google Pack software, the latter makes sure that Google Chrome and Google Earth are checking for and installing updates regularly.
You find the plugin under processes in the Windows Task Manager. Let me show you how to display it there:
You may ask yourself what that has to do with Firefox, and the answer comes in the form of Firefox's default plugin locations. The browser scans locations on the computer and the Registry automatically for plugins and will add those to the browser automatically without first consulting the user about them (see How To Stop Automatic Plugin Installations In Firefox for a list of all locations).
Mozilla has already announced that it will stop the automatic plugin installation process in the browser in Firefox 16 so that users will be asked whether they want the plugins to be activated in the browser or not.
There is no option to update the Google Update plugin manually. It gets automatically updated to the latest version during Google software updates.
Probably the easiest way to deal with the plugin is to disable it in the browser. This does not uninstall it, but it configures Firefox to not load the plugin on start. For that, type about:addons in the browser's address bar and hit enter. Switch to the plugins listing on the left, and click the disable button next to Google Update.
Herre you also find the current version of the plugin listed next to its name so that you know which version is installed on your PC.
Firefox picks up the Google Update plugin in the Registry, and more precisely in the following Registry key:
You can delete the keys here, but they will be added again with the next Chrome or Google Earth update. A better way is to block the Registry location from being scanned by Firefox for plugins. Before you do that though, you need to check the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MozillaPlugins listing as well to make sure you do not disable plugins accidentally that you work with.
If you do not find any plugins listed here, you can do the following to remove Google Update from the Firefox browser.
Enter about:config in the browser's address bar and hit enter. If you see a warning message read it and accept it. Now enter the following term in the filter bar at the top: plugin.scan.plid.all
Double-click the term afterwards to set it to false and restart the browser. All plugins listed in the Windows Registry should now have been removed from the browser, including the current version of the Google Update plugin. You can reverse the change by repeating the same steps outlined above.
Some users may not want to disable the Registry scanning if they are using other plugins listed here. It is alternatively possible to delete the plugin from the Google Update folder under Program Files and the Application Data folder.
Please note that I had two versions listed in the AppData folder, and that I'd recommend deleting both. Problem here is that a Chrome or Google Earth update will add the plugin again to the folders.
The path is different if you are not using Windows Vista or newer. I suggest you use the saerch of your operating system if that is the case to find the dll file locations on your system.
Brock Adams over at Superuser has created a CCleaner definition that you need to put into the program's winapp2.ini file to clear the current version of the Google update plugin automatically whenever you run the program.
[Google Update Firefox plugin]
FileKey1=%APPDATA%\..\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Update|*GoogleUpdate*.dll|RECURSE
How to know if you are running the latest version of Google Update
The easiest way to find out is to open the Google program that you have installed on your system, say Google Chrome, and run an update check from within with a click on Settings > About Google Chrome. The browser checks for updates and if any are found, will install them on the system.
If you have removed a version of the plugin manually, you may want to consider installing the Google product anew to get the current version installed again on your system.
I would really like to know why the plugin exists and why Google adds it to the Mozilla Plugins Registry listing. I can't really think of any logical explanation for it. If you know more, share your knowledge in the comments. We have not yet touched the question why users would want to remove it.
The first reason should be obvious: Since it is not really clear what it does and since there is no ill-effect to the browser after disabling it, it should not be included automatically. I would not go as far as to call it malicious, but it is definitely troubling. Second, some Firefox users have experienced issues with the plugin in the past.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.