VirtualBox Memory Error: GoogleCrashHandler in Windows 7

I had a problem, and it appeared to be caused by GoogleCrashHandler.exe and/or GoogleCrashHandler64.exe. The question was, what could I do about this?

My particular problem came to my attention when VirtualBox stopped running with an error message: “Unable to allocate and lock memory.” A search led immediately to GoogleCrashHandler. While VirtualBox appeared to account for the bulk of these error messages, apparently this error arose in other contexts as well.

It seemed that GoogleCrashHandler was not essential. To the contrary, another search yielded the impression that it was running on my system because I had clicked Yes, during the installation of Google software, when they asked if I would like to “Help make Google Chrome [or other Google software] better by automatically sending usage statistics and crash reports to Google.”

To get rid of it, so that it would not cause those memory errors anymore, many sources advised going into each Google product installed on my computer and unchecking those boxes, so as not to send usage statistics and crash reports to Google. This advice was no doubt good, as far as it went. But I had several concerns:

  • It seemed that I had more Google software installed than I realized. When I went to my Google dashboard, I saw a list of 29 different items. I was not looking forward to the task of determining which of these items would require me to uncheck that “usage statistics” box, or where the box was located.
  • YouTube and Google Drive were on that list; Google Chrome and Google Earth were not. Various sources had said that I would have to opt out of at least Chrome and Earth, if I wanted GoogleCrashHandler to stop running. But the results of another search suggested that Google Apps, Google OnHub, the Chrome Web Store, and other Google tools might also participate in this datafest. In short, it appeared that I might have to undertake an extensive investigation to figure out which Google tools were starting GoogleCrashHandler on my system.
  • Even after making such an effort, it appeared that other users had found that GoogleCrashHandler persisted, prompting more radical and potentially destabilizing measures (e.g., deleting files at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Update\”). One knowledgeable source advised that the GoogleCrashHandler.exe program itself could be safely removed from the system only after all Google software was uninstalled.

I wondered if there was another way to deal with it. One possibility was to find a tool that would automatically shut down certain processes, such as these GoogleCrashHandler items. A search led to various possibilities, such as advice to use the taskkill command, perhaps in conjunction with a batch file that would run periodically.

What seemed more convenient and comprehensive was to use one of the suggested programs that would be running in background and would immediately kill unwanted processes as soon as they started. That sort of thing could be useful for dealing with viruses, among other things. Among those suggested (e.g., Auto Kill Any Process, Process Blocker, the list at Major Geeks), I decided to try Anvir Task Manager Free, as it had recently come to my attention in another process issue.

I downloaded and ran the latest portable version of Anvir (anvir.exe; for some reason the 64-bit version didn’t run, at least not as a GUI). As advised in the User’s Guide, I went into Tools > Options > Security > Blocked Processes. The question was, exactly what processes did I want to block? Windows Task Manager (Start > Run > taskmgr.exe > Processes tab > click to sort on Image Name header > right-click on GoogleCrashHandler.exe > Open File Location) said that the programs in question were:

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Update\\GoogleCrashHandler.exe and
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Update\\GoogleCrashHandler64.exe

There was no specific indication that AnVir would accept a wildcard (e.g., “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Update\\GoogleCrashHandle*.exe”). I tried anyway — I clicked on the Add button and entered it — but I got an error:

File path must not contain these characters: */|<>”?

So instead I entered the two separate full path and *.exe names shown above, one at a time. The User’s Guide said these would be “automatically terminated immediately after these processes start.” I wasn’t sure how that would work in the case of processes already running, so I watched Windows Task Manager when I clicked the OK button in Anvir. Sure enough, they were removed — Boom! — as soon as I clicked OK.

I had meant to shut down Google Chrome when I did that, but I forgot. It didn’t seem to matter. Chrome continued to function normally. I started Google Earth. It didn’t start GoogleCrashHandler.

To make sure Anvir would keep doing this, I went into its Tools > Options > Program Settings > Properties > Load AnVir Task Manager free on startup. Finally, I clicked the X on the upper right corner of the Anvir window. This brought up a dialog, giving me a choice of completely exiting the program or merely hiding it to the system tray. I chose the former after checking the “Don’t ask any more” box.

Now I saw that Anvir was popping up balloon notification tips from the system try, every time it killed one of those Google processes. It happened twice in a row, and that was OK. But if it was going to happen a lot, and especially if I added other processes to the kill list, I would want some way to suppress those notices. I didn’t immediately spy any such option within Anvir; it was possible that I would have to modify Windows itself to block all such notices from all programs.

That seemed to take care of the present need. If I had any further problems, I expected to come back and revise this post.

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