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Disabling Vivaldi auto-update, and a generic list of possible auto-start locations

How to disable Vivaldi’s auto-update check

I’ve been using Vivaldi since its beta, as a backup browser for poorly designed websites that require Google Chrome’s engine, because it combines both Blink and an UI that I find much better than Chrome’s. Another thing I like is the customization options, notably the control over auto-updates. Sadly, that last point evolved a few times. And again no later than a few days ago.

Yesterday, I upgraded to Vivaldi 4. No particularly visible change for me, except that my speed dial background picture got nuked and replaced with a super bright new one (ouch, my eyes, why inflict this to people who use the dark theme? :s), and I noticed the added e-mail client and stuff but I couldn’t care less.
Something I cared about, however, was that when I restarted my computer today, my firewall caught an unexpected piece of junk: update_notifer.exe, which I knew well from the previous versions but always kept at bay, automatically started. Without me even starting Vivaldi. What. The. Hell.
I guess at Vivaldi, just like at Google, “no” doesn’t mean “no”. It’s as if they can’t figure what kind of nightmare it would be if every single piece of software would do that crap. Imagine that, every time you start your computer, and/or every 24h, 300 auto-update tasks running on your computer. How lovely. How speedy. How environment-friendly.

Anyway, to disable this, the official thing to do is to go to Vivaldi’s settings, search for “update” (it used to have its own submenu, now I have no idea how to find it another way that typing its name…), click on “Show Update Settings” and uncheck “Notify About Updates”. By the way, nice way to bury the setting. I mean, there’s only ONE setting, why show/hide it via another button, instead of just always showing the setting instead, if not to make it harder to reach?

So, this should prevent getting a notification asking you to update. But the wording made me suspicious: after all, it’s a checkbox for “notifying” about updates, not “checking” for updates. If I was a sneaky bastard like most browser vendors, I’d still run the check but just not make a popup about it. I poked around a bit, and eventually checked the Windows Task Scheduler. What a nice thing, it’s one of those “new” auto-startup places that evade good old WinPatrol’s surveillance. And frankly, I don’t remember to check it often enough. And there it was, right in the root folder, a big fat “VivaldiUpdateCheck-[bunch of random characters]” task. Still active, despite my above-mentioned unchecked auto-update box. Isn’t this nice? The only question left, is how soon Vivaldi will say “fuck you” to my choices again. Time will sure tell.

So to wrap this up:
– in Vivaldi’s settings, search for “update” and uncheck “Notify About Updates”
– open Windows’s Task Scheduler and disable (or delete, I guess that works too – unless Vivaldi then auto-restores it) the VivaldiUpdateCheck task

Where to check for programs that automatically run at startup

That little issue prompted me to do a more global checkup, more specifically I launched WinPatrol and looked at what it listed. Found a few things that I wanted to remove, WinPatrol failed to remove them (apparently its feature to remove entries just doesn’t work – maybe a Windows 10 thing), so I went there manually and made a list.
Here are some common locations to make a program run at startup (PS: thanks Microsoft for making such a mess, would it kill you to make it more user-friendly and pick just a unique location?):

In regedit (type “regedit ” in the start menu):
(NB: all these have a sibling “RunOnce”, for running only once, which I guess should generally be empty)

The Startup folder of the Start Menu. Note a little trick: there are 2 of those, one for the current user, and one for everyone:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp
C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup, aka %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

The Task Scheduler (type “task scheduler” in the start menu), which contains both task that can run at any time and at startup (also I believe a task that was scheduled to run while the computer was off will in most cases run as soon as it’s powered on)

The Services (type “services” in the start menu), which can be started automatically or “manually”, or disabled. The latter will completely prevent it from running. “Manually” will allow it to get triggered by “something” else, and on numerous occasions I’ve found “manual” start services would still end up starting despite me not realizing I ever launched them. So I tend to be heavy-handed on the “disabled” option, and switch back to manual if I notice I broke something. Note that there are many system services (and quite a few other legit services, notably drivers), so don’t just go and disable everything, that would most likely make a big mess.

To wrap up this part, here’s a partial list of what I busted today hiding there:
– Adobe ARM in some regedit Run key
– Adobe Update in Services
– a CorsairGamingAudioConfig service (but I don’t have any Corsair audio hardware…)
– Vivaldi in the Task Scheduler (as said above)
– Intel Telemetry in Task Scheduler (pretty sure I deleted it already earlier, I guess that crap adds itself back every single time you run Intel XTU)
– a couple of Xbox Live tasks (XblGameSaveTask & XblGameSaveTaskLogon – no kidding)

Posted in Windows.

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