The background on background programs (part 3)

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Another type of background process is an update program. Some programs have the updater process run all the time, though it is only needed for checking for and installing updates. It makes little sense for a process that does nothing the majority of the time to be running all the time.

Why is this so common?

Part of the problem stems from the lack of a central update mechanism for 3rd party program in Windows. Microsoft programs are able to use Windows Update to receive updates. However 3rd party programs are forced to develop their own update mechanism. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a program that is always running that periodically checks for updates. But when everybody does that you have several update programs always running that do nothing the majority of the time.

What are some alternatives to an always running update program?

For most programs like our widget viewer it makes sense to check for updates on startup or shutdown. Like I mentioned last time, another option is to use the Task Scheduler or if the program has a background service, the service can perform the update check.