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Chrome Cleanup Tool a.k.a. Software Reporter Tool Running All the Time

frog-mascot

Today, my laptop became incredibly noisy. I don’t visit unsafe websites. I run several anti-malware products simultaneously. I only install portable software. And I even keep the inside of my laptop clean. So this was a big surprise to me.

The Temperatures

First of all, I checked the internal temperatures of the laptop with Speccy.

As it turned out both the CPU (central processing unit) and the motherboard were seriously overheating:

Speccy — CPU and motherboard overheating

Speccy — CPU and motherboard overheating

The temperatures were even higher when I started Speccy up — above 70 °C (158 °F) for the CPU and 85 °C (185 °F) for the motherboard. But the temperatures dropped a bit before I was able to make a screenshot.

At first I thought that the thermal paste layer between the CPU and its cooler needed replacing.

But then I thought about it and it didn’t make much sense. Should the thermal paste start to get too old and less conductive, it would come about as a gradual process rather than an abrupt one. However, the noise and overheating started only today.

So, I started to investigate.

The Investigation

First Stop — Windows Update

Windows sometimes puts out important updates that are really large and take a long time to install.

Thus, when trying to identify a CPU or memory hog, Windows Update is a good place to start.

I went to Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update, but there were no updates being processed or even available.

Second Stop — Task Scheduler

Sometimes software from Adobe or Google adds updating tasks to Windows’ Task Scheduler.

My thinking was that a large update could be doing the mess.

I went to Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler.

There was an update from Adobe there but it wasn’t running. I deleted it anyway, even though that wasn’t the culprit.

Third Stop — Windows Task Manager

Next, I opened up the Windows Task Manager by using the Ctrl+Shift+Esc keyboard shortcut.

In its window, I selected the Performance tab.

windows-task-manager-high-cpu-usage

Windows Task Manager — High CPU Usage

Something was using up 12% of the CPU’s resources. That’s a lot.

So I clicked on the Resource Monitor… button to find out which process was hogging the processor and making it overheat.

Resource Monitor

Resource Monitor

And there it was. A process called software_reporter_tool.exe a.k.a. Chrome Cleanup Tool.

I wasn’t sure whether this was a real thing, so I googled it:

Chrome Cleanup Tool

Chrome Cleanup Tool

It is a real product from Google and can be downloaded at the following address — https://www.google.com/chrome/cleanup-tool/.

Important Note

To kill a process in the Resource Monitor, right-click on the process’ line and select End Process from the context menu.

Fourth Stop — WinPatrol

I use a fantastic little tool called WinPatrol which was created and has been developed for many years by Bill Pytlovany but since July 1, 2014 all new development is done by Bret Lowry.

The main feature of WinPatrol is that it monitors all internet connections made by all programs. Unknown programs trying to establish an online connection must be verified by the computer’s administrator.

WinPatrol has also many other features but I will rather list them all in a post dedicated specifically to this excellent program.

I went to WinPatrol’s Active Tasks tab.

WinPatrol Plus

WinPatrol Plus

There, I right-clicked on the SOFTWARE_REPORTER_TOOL.EXE line and selected Explore Program Folder from the context menu.

Fifth Stop — Check the Drive

This opened up the location of the Chrome Cleanup Tool in Windows Explorer.

The Chrome Cleanup Tool is part of Google Chrome.

Since I use the portable version of Google Chrome, the location of the software was C:\Portable\Google Chrome\Data\profile\SwReporter\4.30.1.

The Problem

Simply killing the process did nothing meaningful, because as soon as I launched Google Chrome again, the problem reappeared.

The problem seems to be that the Chrome Cleanup Tool doesn’t shut down after I exit Google Chrome. Even though at chrome://settings/, in the Advanced settings area, this issue is clearly addressed:

Chrome settings — Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed

Chrome settings — Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed

After a few hours it gets to the point where the CPU and motherboard start to seriously overheat.

The larger issue is that Google simply installs software on my computer without my consent or even without me knowing about it. Software that could potentially damage vital parts of my computer.

But it seems to be the trend these days:

The Solution

The C:\Portable\Google Chrome\Data\profile\SwReporter\4.30.1 folder contained a file called debug.log.

The only line in the file was this:

And the output from the above-mentioned chrome_cleanup_tool.log file was as follows:

I thought that simply removing the above two folders containing everything related to the Software Reporter Tool would be enough.

So I promptly removed the following folders:

However, as soon as I restarted Google Chrome, it quickly replaced the missing items with another copy of the Software Reporter Tool. And my laptop was noisy again.

That was when I decided to take another route.

I opened up Notepad++ and created a plain-text file of the exact same length as was software_reporter_tool.exe — exactly 1,304,392 bytes.

After saving the file as a txt into the above mentioned SwReporter folder, I renamed its file type to exe.

not a program

not a program

This seems to have done the trick. And just like that all was back to normal.

Windows Task Manager — CPU usage back to normal

Windows Task Manager — CPU usage back to normal

The CPU usage dropped back to a healthy 0%.

Speccy — Temperatures also back to normal

Speccy — Temperatures also back to normal

My laptop wasn’t overheating anymore. Actually, the temperatures dropped quite dramatically — from 62 °C (143.6 °F) to 46 °C (114.8 °F) for the CPU and from 74 °C (165.2 °F) to 44 °C (111.2 °F) for the motherboard.

That’s nearly a 70% difference in temperatures!

The ventilation fan’s noise also stopped immediately.

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Comments 3

  1. This story is dated by September 23, 2015.
    How does your computer work since that time?
    Do you surely recommend everybody, in particular me, to do the same?
    I have the same problem with the fan noise and overhitting.

    1. Peter Post
      Author

      Vladimir,

      It’s hard to say. I, personally, haven’t had this problem since September last year.

      The version of the Google Software Reporter Tool has changed since the date of publishing this post. I’d suggest updating to the most current version of Google Chrome. If the problem persists, then you can try doing what I did.

  2. Solution:

    1) Download and run “autorun” or use WinPatrol, it has the same option tab. Go to “schedule tasks” and disable all Google updates.

    2) This is fullproof. In resource monitor (from task manager), look at the “network” tab. Delete the offending exe and open chrome, it will immediately download a new copy. This will register the Google IP address where it download the file from. Block the IP with Peerblock or just your own Windows firewall.

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