Where Does Google Chrome Install Itself?
By on September 3rd, 2008

The first thing we thought about doing, while we were trying to run Java applets in Google Chrome was to drop the Safaris Java plugin into Google Chrome folder.

The problem we saw was that Google Chrome does not install itself into the default application directory Program Files, so we checked the properties of the exe file and found the location to be in the default user folder.

Where Does Google Chrome Install Itself?

In Windows XP Google Chrome will be installed in C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\ directory. In Windows Vista Google Chrome will be installed in C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\ directory.

Replace C: with the drive windows is installed in and UserName with the windows users you installed chrome with. We are not sure why they install in the Local App Data folder, and they do not provide any way to change the settings, while you are installing the software. You can easily uninstall Google Chrome through the control panel.

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Author: Keith Dsouza Google Profile for Keith Dsouza
I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website. I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.

Keith Dsouza has written and can be contacted at keith@techie-buzz.com.
  • http://www.netage.co.za Goran Web

    I also noticed the same thing this morning. And how you’re not given any options in the installation process. But I love how fast it is though and the simple design. So far I’m impressed.

  • Owen Davies

    I can think of a couple of good reasons:

    1) The browser is personal.

    When there are several users on a machine, each user gets their OWN browser. Since so much is done based on tracking my most visited pages, my searches etc., I don’t really want any of that to spill over to other users. Now, just storing bookmarks and preferences in personal directories is usually sufficient but this makes sure I can change any sort of global or persistent browser behaviors without changing the experience of any other user.

    2) No administrator privileges required to install.

    This is huge. This means most office workers who normally live in locked-down, fixed-toolset environments can finally break free of the IT mandate and use an alternate browser. In fact, I’m typing this as we speak using Google Chrome freshly installed (to my profile) on a machine I cannot change anything about. No writing to Program Files and no entries in the registry means I’m not blocked by most current lockdown measures.

    • Keith Dsouza

      @Owen Thanks for the insight. I must agree with you that the browser is personal and each user gets its own browser, along with the fact that you can install it without administrative privileges because you are doing it for your own user.

    • Sajen Rochare

      At home people should do what they want, but in an office environment they should abide by the IT mandates. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that those mandates are in place for a reason by the people/organization that actually own the equipment and understand the needs of the company. We have certain internal training sites that have been fine tuned to IE only. Other browsers do not work and end up wasting employees time as they are not credited for the work they do on other than IE. Once the other browsers are tested and allowed, it wouldn’t be a problem.

    • amanshu

      The problem is that in my locked down office environment the amount of profile space we're given is also controlled. Given the choice I'd rather not use more space than I have to – especially when I can install firefox elsewhere and control where my profile data is stored, and still keep it separate from anyone else who'd use the machine.

      • locster

        However there are two app data folders, the 'roaming' application data and local. It's almost certainly the roaming folder that is restricted. The local folder is always on the local HD and therefore restrictions are generally not necessary.

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  • http://www.stickychrome.com StickyChrome

    Some people might find it necessary to “Show Hidden Folders” to be able to find their Google installation, if not already enabled.

    A user asked this very question at http://www.stickychrome.com. I replied and included images of what settings need changing and where the directory can be found.

    • kim

      Um, how come you didn’t include those instructions here?

  • Anon

    Thanks for the post. I found myself wondering where Chrome had installed itself to after reinstalling with version 1.0. Very strange, but thanks for the info.

  • Jaybee

    @Owen
    1) User settings are never saved in the program files themselves (e.g. .exe, .dll) – they are always saved externally (e.g. disk file, registry, database) which nullifies this being reason for saving the lot in the user folder. The only reason for Chrome installing in the user folder must be for Chrome to circumvent UAC.
    2) I agree 100% with Sajen. There is a reason for lock-downs in office environments. If you want to introduce potential security holes in your PC then you are free to do so at home – don’t do it at work without an accept from IT.
    Having said that I really like some of the features that Chrome offers (and I’m in fact posting this using Chrome :-)

  • Owen

    @Jaybee
    I understand that user settings are not saved INTO the .exe or .dll program files. My point was that everything about Chrome installs inside the user’s own profile (in disk files as you suggest) and nothing seems to write to the Registry. Specifically, it seems all of Chrome’s settings are in Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data.

    This is quite different that the IE model where settings of all types are stored indiscriminately in the common Windows registry. Users cannot customize most settings in IE without affecting all other users of the computer. This leaves the IT department with the only practical option of locking down all browser customizations to prevent one user creating problems for another. Understandable, certainly, but needless if Microsoft had made more intelligent decisions about user vs. system-wide settings.

    @ Jaybee & Sajen
    It’s pointless to debate what end users in a business environment SHOULD do or refrain from doing. If it is possible, some percentage of users will do it. Chrome makes installing an alternate browser possible for unprivileged users; some percentage will do so (or already have.) Better by far to spend your energies defining and finding a way to enforce your policy regarding Chrome than arguing with end users.

    The issue of Chrome introducing new security holes is a concern but you would be insane to rely on user behavior to keep that at bay. You really need to either accept Chrome, follow the security discussions and keep up with updates or disallow it and enforce the ban electronically.

    In any case, not everything is wonderful for the illicit Chrome user. A plugin for Flash content still requires a more traditional software install (thus admin rights) so you’ll find yourself reaching for the company-approved browser on occasion. In any case, I would hope that anyone who installed their own alternative browser would know better than to waste time/money calling corporate tech support for help.

  • http://asdofindia.blogspot.com Akshay S DInesh

    I use chrome in my PC.
    And i have a windoes xp partitioned with ntfs.
    And I am an adiministrator.
    Therefore, from my brother’s account, my “documents and settings” folder can’t be accessed. SO i will have to install it fresh from his profile.
    And his profile is an administrator account too. Therfore i will have to install it yet again for my parent’s user.

    Now, i don’t know if google has itself released a stand alone installer. So, if i use the installer that google gives me, i will have to waste almost 8 MB’s of my restricted allowed bandwidth. That’s just another waste of time.

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  • kerframil

    @Owen
    Your assertions regarding the “IE model” – as you put it – are complete and utter codswallop. While it is true that Internet Explorer settings are stored in the registry, these settings are stored under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive which, as anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Windows internals ought to know, is sourced from the NTUSER.DAT file that resides in the root directory of the user’s profile and is mounted upon logging in. Other data, including the browser’s cache (Temporary Internet Files), Cookies and Favorites are also stored within the user’s profile. The statement that “most settings” in IE cross-pollinate between user accounts is patently false. Indeed, a process operating under one standard user account is completely unable to access the data contained within the profile of another such account.

    Simply put, the location of the application is orthogonal to the matter of how it manages its data and to suggest otherwise is, at best, misinformed. In fact, The Google Chrome “approach” actually differs very little except that [a] most, if not all, user settings are stored in files _other_ than the user’s own registry hive (irrelevant as it’s simple one arbitrary set of files vs another, all of which are under %USERPROFILE%) [b] the application is installed into the user’s profile which many – quite rightly – find perplexing. It’s bad for those using roaming profiles. It’s bad for system administrators who expect to have a modicum of control over which applications are available to their users. It’s also bad from a security point of view; application executables and libraries contained under ‘Program Files’ are not writeable by members of the standard ‘Users’ group, therefore making it very difficult for applications to be subverted by malware, or even accidentally corrupted (notwithstanding the vast numbers of consumers who unfortunately run under accounts that are members of the ‘Administrators’ group). This arrangement is subverted by placing application binaries within the profile.

    It’s the same under other operating systems, such as Unix and its derivatives. A process operating under a non-root user account has absolutely no business attempting to write to /usr during normal operation, which is why only the superuser can do so. However, it will have full read/write access to the home directory.

    Drawing a distinct line between applications – which need not be writable other than by users bestowed with the relevant privileges – and user data is good practice. And no, it is not “pointless” to discuss it. Some people stake their livelihoods on such matters and, ironically, some of these same people might be otherwise happy to deploy it if Google were to get their act together.

    Also, as someone else has already pointed out, Google’s approach here is wasteful in terms of resources. Do we really want multiple instances of statically-linked applications choking up user profiles?

    Incidentally, the issue has also been raised over at Google Groups.

  • kerframil

    @Owen
    Your assertions regarding the “IE model” – as you put it – are complete and utter codswallop. While it is true that Internet Explorer settings are stored in the registry, these settings are stored under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive which, as anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Windows internals ought to know, is sourced from the NTUSER.DAT file that resides in the root directory of the user’s profile and is mounted upon logging in. Other data, including the browser’s cache (Temporary Internet Files), Cookies and Favorites are also stored within the user’s profile. The statement that “most settings” in IE cross-pollinate between user accounts is patently false. Indeed, a process operating under one standard user account is completely unable to access the data contained within the profile of another such account.

    Simply put, the location of the application is orthogonal to the matter of how it manages its data and to suggest otherwise is, at best, misinformed. In fact, The Google Chrome “approach” actually differs very little except that [a] most, if not all, user settings are stored in files _other_ than the user’s own registry hive (irrelevant as it’s simple one arbitrary set of files vs another, all of which are under %USERPROFILE%) [b] the application is installed into the user’s profile which many – quite rightly – find perplexing. It’s bad for those using roaming profiles. It’s bad for system administrators who expect to have a modicum of control over which applications are available to their users. It’s also bad from a security point of view; application executables and libraries contained under ‘Program Files’ are not writeable by members of the standard ‘Users’ group, therefore making it very difficult for applications to be subverted by malware, or even accidentally corrupted (notwithstanding the vast numbers of consumers who unfortunately run under accounts that are members of the ‘Administrators’ group). This arrangement is subverted by placing application binaries within the profile.

    It’s the same under other operating systems, such as Unix and its derivatives. A process operating under a non-root user account has absolutely no business attempting to write to /usr during normal operation, which is why only the superuser can do so. However, it will have full read/write access to the home directory.

    Drawing a distinct line between applications – which need not be writable other than by users bestowed with the relevant privileges – and user data is good practice. And no, it’s not pointless to discuss it. Some people stake their livelihoods on such matters and it is unfortunate that some of these same people might otherwise be happy to deploy Chrome if Google were to get there act together. And, as someone else has already pointed out, Google’s approach here is wasteful in terms of resources. Do we really want multiple instances of statically-linked applications choking up user profiles?

    Incidentally, the issue has also been raised over at Google Groups.

    • Bhiko

      @kerframil
      I agree with your analysis.

      In general, it is a bad idea to do things in a way it was not designed for.
      Would we like every future program to install itself in %USERPROFILE% to circumvent security settings?

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  • Andre

    The problem with location that Google chooses to install Chrome is that is upsets McAfee. Because of this, on the computer where I have local admin rights I keep on having Chrome quarantined, and being a work computer there is not much I can do . Note that the configuration for McAfee is not accessible by the local admin.

  • http://achshar.com Achshar

    May be they do this to provide experience settings user data and privacy accourding to pc users… like user A cannot see user B’s History or book marks etc…
    and you have to install the browsers saperately in all the users.. which is quite bad i hav 3 users on my pc and i am the oly one with techie knowledge to install it…

  • http://www.sriraj.org Sriraj

    This really saved my day. I just deleted an existing version of Google Chrome seeing some suspicious activity and again installed a fresh version by downloading it.
    To confirm that there are no traces of previous version of Chrome were left in the new install, I was searching for its location but to my surprise it wasn’t there in the Program files list.
    A search on Google itself brought me to this page.
    Very Unusual place for a Browser to be installed in.
    I’m am pretty sure that this wasn’t the case when I previously downloaded Chrome (immediately when it was released). It was nicely asking me to a place for it to be installed and I’ve shown it the Prog files way. But now, the one click installer has it own way.

  • http://robinferianto.com/ robb

    my system drive is in C, but i want to install it in D.
    i guess google just won’t allow this.
    i don’t know why.

  • kerframil

    robb, your best bet might be to use SRWare Iron. This is a third-party build of the Chromium sources. Essentially, it’s the same as Chrome, only they’ve stripped the controversial usage tracking features out. You may even get a better experience as they have been known to link in newer versions of Webkit than Google’s build. In any case, I believe that it will allow you to install to any location you please.

    http://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php

    • Francis Lai

      This is the best answer/ solution that I have been looking
      for, Thank you.
      I have the same problem as robb above. Mine is a home PC.

  • James T. Jones

    As one user posted, there are reasons for XP systems to be "locked down" at work. In our case this is further complicated by the fact that our IT policies deleted all local settings info for every user when they log off of a computer. These do not become part on our roaming profiles. This makes Chrome unusable in our environment unless we can point it somewhere else.

    I will look into SRWare.

  • Joe

    Yah, I LOVE the fact that you don't need admin privelages to install. I can install this at school, at a library, and on my home computer on which I have been denied admin access by my parents… :P

  • http://www.skypuppy.us Steve Rodrigues

    Hi Keith,
    I'm new to Windows7 and am having a hard time navigating without good old Windows Explorer.

    Can you please tell me where Google Chrome installs itself in Windows 7?
    I want to copy my user data file from my old XP box onto my new W-7 box as a work-around password import.
    Thanks!
    Steve

    • http://keithdsouza.com Keith Dsouza

      @Steve Chrome installs itself in the user folder, you will find the user data in the following folder C:UsersKeithAppDataLocalGoogleChromeUser Data, just change Keith here with your own username. You can directly copy the above path and paste it in the explorer address bar. If you plan on navigating make sure hidden folders are shown as AppData is a hidden folder.

  • Chris Carpenter

    My C drive is FULL! How do I get Chrome to install to D?

  • JP

    Do you have any idea where the theme files are kept in windows 7? I have looked all over and done a whole computer search for the default.dll and i cant search through all of the possibilities. THANKS!!!

 
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