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Old Nov 19, 2010, 12:17 PM   #1
hoosker
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What is softwareupdatecheck doing?

Once in a while I notice major internet activity on my DSL modem. No one in the house is downloading anything, so I check Activity Monitor and the process named "softwareupdatecheck" seems to be the culprit. This is not Software Update. It indicates that it is downloading mostly but uploading too. I am not sure how to find out any more info about it.

Anyone know who or what program is doing this and why? This is not Adobe or Microsoft checking for updates either -- as far as I can tell. Their updates are indicated in the dock with icon and softwareupdatecheck seems to give no indication there.

Should I be concerned?
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 12:43 PM   #2
LPZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosker View Post
Once in a while I notice major internet activity on my DSL modem. No one in the house is downloading anything, so I check Activity Monitor and the process named "softwareupdatecheck" seems to be the culprit. This is not Software Update. It indicates that it is downloading mostly but uploading too. I am not sure how to find out any more info about it.

Anyone know who or what program is doing this and why? This is not Adobe or Microsoft checking for updates either -- as far as I can tell. Their updates are indicated in the dock with icon and softwareupdatecheck seems to give no indication there.

Should I be concerned?
If the process is SoftwareUpdateCheck then it is a resource used by the Apple Software Update application. You can find the executable file in
Code:
/System/Library/CoreServices/Software\ Update.app/Contents/Resources
This binary checks for new software, downloads it and then starts the usual Software Update application.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 12:53 PM   #3
hoosker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LPZ View Post
If the process is SoftwareUpdateCheck then it is a resource used by the Apple Software Update application. You can find the executable file in
Code:
/System/Library/CoreServices/Software\ Update.app/Contents/Resources
This binary checks for new software, downloads it and then starts the usual Software Update application.
Why would it download so much before it starts Software Update and asks to update? If I say yes to update it then downloads the items I have checked. Why would it download twice? I understand the checking part behind the scenes but not the downloading. We are talking about quite a bit of time.. maybe 10 min of activity? Also Software Update app did not start on it's own after this takes place yet if I run it myself it checks and asks to update as usual.

So still do not understand!
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 01:06 PM   #4
LPZ
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Can't find documentation for this process, so can't say much more. Maybe someone else can elaborate. As a test, I ran the process from the command line. Here's what it echoed to the terminal, and then it opened the Software Update application:

Code:
/System/Library/CoreServices/Software Update.app/Contents/Resources] ./SoftwareUpdateCheck 
2010-11-19 12:40:36.076 SoftwareUpdateCheck[16274:903] Checking for updates
2010-11-19 12:41:12.653 SoftwareUpdateCheck[16274:903] Downloading "Safari"
2010-11-19 12:41:48.669 SoftwareUpdateCheck[16274:903] Auto-download of "Safari" SUCCESSFUL.
2010-11-19 12:41:49.653 SoftwareUpdateCheck[16274:903] Launching app
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 01:26 PM   #5
hoosker
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Well thanks LPZ for the info..

So in this example you posted from terminal, SoftwareUpdateCheck downloaded Safari before launching Software Update app and asking if you want to update Safari. If you said yes, it would start downloading Safari? Yet it seems to have all ready downloaded it?? See why I am confused?

thanks again for your reply.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 01:38 PM   #6
DStaal
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Software Update will download updates when you tell it to update, if softwareupdatecheck hasn't downloaded them first. If it has downloaded them, that step will be skipped.

The system is trying to speed things up for you by doing the downloads ahead of time, in the background, as a low-priority process when you aren't doing anything else. Sometimes it will have the downloads ready for you, in which case it has succeeded. Other times it won't, and you'll have to download when you click update.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 01:52 PM   #7
LPZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosker View Post
Well thanks LPZ for the info..

So in this example you posted from terminal, SoftwareUpdateCheck downloaded Safari before launching Software Update app and asking if you want to update Safari. If you said yes, it would start downloading Safari? Yet it seems to have all ready downloaded it?? See why I am confused?

thanks again for your reply.
Safari was downloaded by SoftwareUpdateCheck. Now when I run the Software Update app, it checks for additional new software that might have been released since SoftwareUpdateCheck ran, and then it says

Software updates for your computer are ready to be installed. Do you want to install them now?

If I say yes, the software is installed. Nothing is downloaded twice.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 02:32 PM   #8
AxiomaticRubric
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hookster
Once in a while I notice major internet activity on my DSL modem. No one in the house is downloading anything, so I check Activity Monitor and the process named "softwareupdatecheck" seems to be the culprit. This is not Software Update. It indicates that it is downloading mostly but uploading too. I am not sure how to find out any more info about it.
Every copy of Windows (going back to Windows 95) has a back door for the NSA to eavesdrop on all data being downloaded and uploaded from/to your computer. (However, Microsoft denies that there's a backdoor in Windows 7, while Vista was the only version of Windows to date for which the backdoor was acknowledged publicly. The NSA back door can be found in the registries of the earlier versions of Windows.)

One of many articles on the subject:
For Windows Vista Security, Microsoft Called in Pros

Based on speculation, and by monitoring the activity of certain system processes, it's possible that OS X also has a back door built in. This may or may not account for usually large data transfers noticed by some Mac users. This has also been observed by users of the various iOS devices, especially on the iPhone (which apparently show large data transfers around 1 a.m. without user input).

I'm not sure if this particular process (softwareupdatecheck) is related to the backdoor in OS X or not. In reality, Apple could name the process however they want-- it's the actual behavior of the process that's in question.

Keep in mind this is all legal according to Patriot Acts 1 & 2 (in the USA), assuming this the case with what you're noticing. It's just the "cost of doing business" for owning and using a PC connected to the world wide web. Nearly all countries have their own versions of these laws too.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 03:00 PM   #9
hoosker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DStaal View Post
Software Update will download updates when you tell it to update, if softwareupdatecheck hasn't downloaded them first. If it has downloaded them, that step will be skipped.

The system is trying to speed things up for you by doing the downloads ahead of time, in the background, as a low-priority process when you aren't doing anything else. Sometimes it will have the downloads ready for you, in which case it has succeeded. Other times it won't, and you'll have to download when you click update.
I did not know that OS X would download ahead of time in the background. Is this new behavior in SL? At any rate it definately did slow down my browsing to a crawl while it did this. I don't like this and only want Software update to alert me that new software is available and let me decide to download it!

It is getting tougher all the time to keep a handle on apps phoning home.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 03:21 PM   #10
LPZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AxiomaticRubric View Post
I'm not sure if this particular process (softwareupdatecheck) is related to the backdoor in OS X or not. In reality, Apple could name the process however they want-- it's the actual behavior of the process that's in question.
Well, when I actually ran the process, it did indeed download the latest Safari update for me. But maybe it knew I was watching, or it would have contacted the NSA instead.
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