Google Chrome is great. Released in the year 2008, Chrome has steadily gained traction among users ever since. It is fast, pretty, and renders web pages well, which is all we could ever ask for. Chrome has been steadily climbing the ladder in popularity, while Firefox is slowly but surely tumbling down. Just take a look here at a graph provided by StatCounter. I think it is safe to say that many of the recent changes you see in Firefox are mainly due to this – panic from Chrome’s success.
^ Image Credit: Hammer
But Google Chrome is also one annoying pest. Installing Chrome is like setting a parasite loose on your computer. Sure it works great as a browser, but Chrome’s installer goes beyond that and deploys a bunch of other hooligans on your computer. I don’t know about you, but when I install software, all I want is the bare working program itself without any extra toolbars or add-ons forced upon me. In the succeeding paragraphs, I will list out all of the annoying crap that Chrome does to your computer.
First up is Chrome’s choice of its installation directory. A normal software would usually be installed in the C:\Program Files\ directory in Windows. However, Chrome has to be special, so it goes ahead and dumps its program files into the Local App Data folder (C:\Users\“username”\AppData\Local – in Windows 7), without your consent. Even if they have good reasons for doing this, there should at least be an option for the user to set the installation directory. Another problem with this installation method is that other user accounts under Windows will not be able to access Chrome. You would have to install Chrome repeatedly into each user account, essentially wasting disk space.
Google Updater – Startup
After Chrome installs, you will see a new process called GoogleUpdater.exe running under the Task Manager. More RAM and CPU resource wasted, hooray! If you thought that just simply removing the GoogleUpdater startup entry would have solved this problem, you are dead wrong!
Google Updater – Task Scheduler
Google will also embed two events into Windows Task Scheduler to start GoogleUpdater.exe even after you managed to remove the startup entry. You will then have to delete these two events manually. At this point, Google’s persistence in keeping GoogleUpdater.exe running in the background gets to be really annoying. Why they so desperately want this to be running in the background is beyond my comprehension.
Google Updater – Firefox Add-on
It is understandable if Google wants to crush Mozilla in the browser race, but does it have to sneakily implant one of its Google Update files into dear old Firefox’s belly too? Looking under the Add-ons section in Firefox (if you have it installed), you will now see a new plug-in from Google. Remember how I was comparing Google Chrome to a parasite before? (To remove this, search for the npGoogleOneClick8.dll file in the Chrome installation directory and delete it)
Leaves Old Files Behind
Every time Chrome is updated to a new version, it always leaves behind all the old files. This means you would have to manually navigate into the weird Chrome directory to delete them. Eventually, after many updates, you will find gigabytes worth of old files in the Chrome installation directory. (If you installed Chrome on different user accounts, then you will have multiple instances of Chrome and its old files)
A Half Solution
There is a way to install Chrome without the annoying updater, although with a few caveats. If you download Chrome from mirror sites like MajorGeeks, it will install without the GoogleUpdater bundle. However, Chrome will lose its ability to auto-update. You will have to re-download Chrome every time a new version comes out and install over the old (re-download from the same mirror sites, because if you reinstall using the Chrome installer the updater fiasco will happen all over again). However, this still does not solve the problem with the old files accumulating.
What To Do?
Don’t get me wrong, I think Google is a very innovative company and they have done a good job on many of their products. Chrome itself is a great browser, but all this other crap does not do it any justice. At least give us the option to choose where to install it to, and only update Chrome while it is running, like Firefox. So is this the end of the world? Isn’t there a way to run Chrome minus all this nonsense? Yes. Tune in next week…