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How to Fix (and Adjust) Automatic Updating in Google Chrome

By default, Google Chrome automatically updates itself to make sure you’re running the safest and best optimized version of Chrome. Sometimes the auto-update process hiccups, however, and you need to manually adjust it. The process is more complicated than it should be, but don’t worry: we’re here to walk you through it.

Noteif your Google Chrome is updating just fine, stop reading this article and go check out our SysInternals Pro series instead.

Why Do I Want To Do This?

There are two pertinent questions to address in this section. Why do you want to mess around with the update function and Why do you even have to in the first place? Although updating any software always runs the risk (however small) of breaking something, web browsers are a tool you want to keep as up-to-the-minute updated as possible so you can minimize the threat of zero-day exploits and security holes.

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By default, Google Chrome automatically updates itself (and occasionally reminds you to restart the browser to apply those updates if it has been awhile since you’ve completely shut the application down). Since 2010, however, Chrome has included more advanced group policy settings intended to help network administrators streamline when/how Google Chrome updates when installed in a Windows enterprise environment. The problem for home users and commercial users without a group policy system in place is that this group policy system sometimes hiccups and turns the automatic updating off. Again, for emphasis, the technique and solution outlined in this article is focused on fixing Google Chrome update problems in a Windows environment.

If your Chrome installation has this hiccup wherein the automatic/manual updating is disabled, you’ll find the following screen when you navigate to About -> Google Chrome or type chrome://chrome in your Chrome address bar and attempt to update your Chrome installation:

The full text of the error is:

Update failed (error: 7) An error occurred while checking for updates: Google Chrome or Google Chrome Frame cannot be updated due to inconsistent Google Update Group Policy settings. Use the Group Policy Editor to set the update policy override for the Google Chrome Binaries application and try again; see http://goo.gl/uJ9gV for details.

Now, if you’re not a very Windows savvy user or a system administrator, that’s a huge request to make of you. Your typical home or office computer user can lead a long and happy life without ever wading into the Group Policy Editor (nor, under 99.9% of circumstances should they ever need to).

Don’t worry though, as foreign as mucking about in the Group Policy Editor is to most folks, we made the trek for you and have outlined everything you need to do in order to fix the update process.

Note: The Group Policy Editor is only available to Windows Pro and above users (e.g. Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise, etc., Windows 8 Pro), unfortunately. If your edition of Windows is lower than Pro (e.g. Windows 7 Home) you’ll need to do the very mucking about in the registry we like to avoid leading readers into necessarily. Please read over the rest of this tutorial to get a sense of what exactly you’re editing, but then refer to the Google help file Google Update for Enterprise with a focus on the Registry Settings section (which highlights all the registry keys you’ll need to manually edit to achieve what we’re doing here with the Group Policy Template).

Before we continue, make sure you have administrative access to the computer you wish to alter the Google Chrome update policy on as you will not be able to change the policy without admin access. Further, if you’re in a corporate environment, please double check with your IT department before proceeding. Even if you have administrative access to the computer you use, the IT folks are not going to be very happy to find out you’ve been overriding their Group Policy deployments (and if none of the web browsers at work are updating properly, you should bring it to their attention by showing them this article so they can fix it).

Have administrative access and about 10-15 minutes to follow along? Great, let’s fix Chrome.

Installing Google’s Custom Group Policy Templates

While you can potentially fix the problem by diving into the Windows Registry and altering some registry keys and deleting others, we’re not going to instruct you using that method. Not only is digging around in the Windows Registry generally a bad idea because mistakes and errors can snowball into big problems quickly, but the Group Policy Editor method we’re about to walk through will stay current even if Google Chrome uses different registry keys in the future (whereas showing you specific registry keys will work today but might not work next year).

Manually downloading a new version of Chrome and trying to overwrite your current install won’t work either, as the new installation will still need to contact the update servers and the erroneously-set-policy will still block the update. This method is the only surefire way to get back to regularly scheduled automatic updates.

To get started, we need to grab a copy of a custom policy template for Chrome. With the release of a version of Google Chrome that supported Group Policies, Google thoughtfully provided a template for all the potential Group Policy settings that could be applied at the enterprise level to a Chrome installation. Download a copy of the template here (direct link to file). Go ahead and leave the file sitting in your download folder for now (or, if you’re a paranoid file archiver like us, label and archive it for eternity).

Next, we’re going to fire up the Windows Group Policy Editor and install the custom Google Chrome template pack so we can successfully change the policies without touching the Windows Registry. You can call on the Group Policy Editor by opening the Run dialog (Win+R) and typing in: gpedit.msc

Once the Group Policy Editor is open, you need to navigate to, via the section located in the left-hand navigation pane, Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates.  Right-click on the entry, as seen in the screenshot above, and select “Add/Remove Templates…” and then browse to the location of the GoogleUpdate.adm template you downloaded just a moment ago.

Confirm the file is present in the Add/Remove window, as seen above, and then click the Add button. The custom Google Chrome policy is now installed in the Local Group Policy Editor.

Configuring Automatic Updating

Once you’ve installed the custom policy, it’s time to locate the templates within the Local Group Policy Editor. There are two locations possible dependent on your version of Windows:

Windows XP/2000 and Windows Server 2003 users need to look in Administrative Templates -> Google -> Google Update.

Windows Vista/7/8 and Windows Server 2008 (and above) users need to look in Administrative Templates -> Classic Administrative Templates (ADM) -> Google -> Google Update.

All the work we do will be within the Google Update section, seen in the screenshot above, and the sub-policies found there within. All other policies should remain untouched. There are six policies we need to change. Navigate to the sub-folders outlined below and then double click on the policy entry to edit it:

Google Update -> Preferences -> Auto-update check period override 

Toggle the override to “Enabled”, the default frequency is 1440 minutes (every 24 hours). You can adjust the time cycle, if you have a pressing reason to do so, by changing the value.

Google Update -> Applications -> Update Policy

Toggle the policy override state to “Enabled”. The default setting in the options should be “Always allow updates”; switch it to this setting if it is disabled. You can also switch to manual updates only or automatic silent updates if, again, you have a pressing need to do so. We strongly recommend sticking with always allowing all updates to ensure your browser is secure.

Google Update -> Applications -> Google Chrome -> Allow Installations

Toggle to “Enabled”; there are no optional configuration toggles to change.

Google Update -> Applications -> Google Chrome -> Update Policy Override

Toggle to “Enabled”; like the earlier application update policy, you can select the frequency. The default should be “Always allow updates”. If you altered this setting in the previous policy change, make sure it matches here.

Once you have made the changes to the Allow Installation and Update Policy Override policies, navigate to the following location and repeat the exact settings for the Chrome Binaries:

Google Update -> Applications -> Google Chrome Binaries -> Allow Installations

Google Update -> Applications -> Google Chrome Binaries -> Update Policy Override

The dialog boxes will look absolutely identical to the screenshots above as all you’re doing is replicating the settings you applied to Google Chrome for the Google Chrome Binaries.

When you have toggled all of the settings, close the Local Group Policy Editor and return to Google Chrome. Restart the browser and navigate to Settings -> About Google Chrome. Click the update button and enjoy your freshly updated Chrome installation:

Note: If you have set all the proper group policies as outlined in this tutorial and Chrome still fails to update; please reference this Google support document which highlights the location of two orphan registry keys that must (in rare cases) be deleted. The majority of users should be able to simply update the group policies, however, and avoid the registry altogether.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/4/14

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