Why Agent.exe is running constantly


This article written 2011 by Will Johnson, wjhonson@aol.com for Fast Forward Technologies.
My newest recipient of the Monkey Typing Room award.

Today I had a few minutes to examine my Task Manager tasks again.  My computer seems to have been getting slower and slower over the years.  Yes I know it's an old computer, but I really don't think it's all just my expectations, I really think there's a tapeworm living in there somewhere.

Today I found a new problem.  Agent.exe wakes up every minute or so, runs for several seconds, then dies.

There is a company Flexera Software who are the authors of a program called InstallShield.  This program is used by "thousands of computer vendors" (so they say) to load various software onto your system.  Flexera just writes the code that lets those other companies install software, so if it breaks it's not really their fault.  Okay fair enough.

My route to Flexera was torturous as first I had to figure out what Agent.exe was and did and why it kept running every minute in my task manager for several seconds and then killing itself.  I happened to find a forum where they helpfully suggested just doing a search (Start > Search) for Agent.exe and see in which folders it's living.  The sole folder in which it was living was something called Installshield or words to that affect anyway.

It turns out that not only does InstallShield load software, but the very helpful folks at Flexera add the ability for software vendors to include "Automatic updates" of their software to your system.  I suppose it's up to the vendor to ask you if you want the automatic update, but as we're going to see shortly, the problem here, returns squarely to Flexera's shoulders.

Included with this software is an Install Shield Update Manager.  Hmmm ISUM... that's seems familiar somehow.  At any rate, I found this manager and ran it, so it shows you exactly what, the software is trying to update.  But hey, these updates are set to only go off Weekly.  What gives here?

My system is not being affected weekly, it's being affected like... every single minute, forever.  Every minute.  Every single minute.

Within the Install Shield Update Manager is a way to turn off selected updates.  Ok fine.  So I turned them ALL off (listen carefully).  I turned them ALL off except the one called Install Shield Update Manager.

Say what Jack?  Yes you got me.  There were four updates listed, I turned them all off except the update TO Flexera's own server.  Their own Install Shield Update Manager server for their own bleeding freaking program.

I'm getting mad, you'll see why in a sec.

I then ran it manually, and it pops up with an error message "You are either not connected to the internet or the Update Service servers are currently unavailable."

I almost fell off my rocking chair.  You have got to be freakin kidding me.  Since I am connected to the internet typing this up right now... connected... to.. the.. internet.  Then it must be that the helpful folks at Flexera either turned off the server, disabled the software update for this or whatever... Who knows.  What we do know is that this is not an issue with any of their clients vending the product.  It's pointing right back at them.

The point is, that because of this, they have the software set to constantly attempt to connect every minute, forever?  That's how you write a program when you work at Flexera?  Are they hiring chimpanzees again?

Okay so you don't really need to go through the trouble to uninstall this.  All you need to do is toggle off all the updates listed in this manager.  Then shoot off an angry letter to Flexera demanding they hire people who have actual real life experience.