Unwanted software, which consists of adware, browser hijackers, fake system optimizers, & tracking software, continue to be a major problem for computer user's of all types. Even worse, many of these programs have crossed the line from being just a nuisance to now performing click fraud, credential theft, or installing miners.

What many people do not know is that Google Chrome includes a tool created by ESET called the "software_reporter_tool.exe" that periodically scans a computer for unwanted software, and if detected, prompts the user to remove it. The unwanted software that is scanned for are programs that inject ads, install unwanted extensions, performs browser hijacking, and other unwanted browser modifications.

While this particular tool is not geared towards all malware, but rather browser affecting malware, it does add extra security to the computer. At the same time, there has been concern regarding the periodic scans by this tool because it executes without the user's knowledge, can use up a lot of CPU, and performs potential tracking of installed software and other information from the computer. To change what data is sent to Google, you can follow the instructions here.

If you find that your installation of the Chrome Browser is starting to act strange, slow, or you are seeing ads where they should not normally be, then you can also perform an on-demand manual scan using the Chrome Cleanup Tool rather than waiting for it to periodically run.

Performing a manual scan with chrome://settings/cleanup

To perform a manual scan using the Chrome Cleanup Tool, open the Chrome browser, type chrome://settings/cleanup in the browser's address bar, and press Enter to go to Chrome's "Clean up computer" page.

chrome://settings/cleanup
chrome://settings/cleanup Page​​​​​​

On this page you can click on the Find button to initiate a scan for unwanted software and a option labeled "Report details to Google".

If enabled, the report option will send data such as the programs running on your computer, scheduled tasks, registry values, filenames, extensions, and modules associated with unwanted programs to Google. This data is used to enhance the definitions used by the Chrome Cleanup Tool and is stored by Google for 14 days.

After you decide if you wish to send information to Google, you can initiate a scan for unwanted software by clicking on the Find button. This process can take quite a while, so please be patient.

Chrome Checking for Harmful Software
Chrome Checking for Harmful Software

When the scan has finished it will either state that nothing was found or it will display a list of threats as shown below.

Threats Detected by Chrome Cleanup Tool
Threats Detected by Chrome Cleanup Tool

Once again on this screen is an option to send information about what was detected to Google, which you can disable. When ready to remove the unwanted software, click on the Remove button. 

Windows will now display a UAC prompt asking if you wish to allow the Chrome Cleanup Tool to make changes on the computer.  If you wish to remove the detected items, click on the Yes button to continue.

The Chrome Cleanup Tool will now remove any detected software, and when finished, display a message stating that you need to restart the computer to finish the removal of unwanted software.

Threats Removed & Reboot Needed
Threats Removed & Reboot Needed

To finish this process, click on the Restart Computer button and when Windows restarts the Chrome Cleanup Tool will finish removing the software. When this happens you may receive another UAC prompt to run the Chrome Cleanup Tool, which you should allow.

After this process has finished, any detected software will have been removed.

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