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Issue #752: December 19-25, 2021

Q: Just curious. Whenever I use CCleaner, it asks me to close “Edge Chromium”. What/where is that? I use Edge and it is already closed before I start CCleaner. I don’t see Edge Chromium in the list of Microsoft programs.

 – Marianne K.
Destin, Florida

A:  Surely there is more than mere curiosity behind your question, Marianne!  This is an opportunity to learn!  To broaden your horizons!  To add to your personal modicum of tangential knowledge of the universe!  I’m making this sound like a bigger deal than it actually is!

Pardon me while I bring my ego into check.  A-HEM!  There, that’s better.  Now, I see this as two questions.  The first is “What is Edge Chromium?” and the second is “Why does CCleaner tell me to close it when it doesn’t seem to be open?”  I can, and shall, handle both of those for you.

As to the former, the original Microsoft Edge was first released in 2015, and was a fully Microsoft-developed product. It was built on their proprietary EdgeHTML browser engine and their Chakra JavaScript engine.  Edge was the default browser built-in to Windows 10, yet somehow managed to not fully replace Internet Explorer, which remains a part of even recent releases of Windows 10.  As an aside, Edge was also the browser for Xbox One, and over the years it has grown to support other non-Microsoft platforms.

In 2019, Microsoft announced that they were re-architecting Edge to use Chromium-based components.  That’s Chromium, as in Chrome, as in the Google Chrome browser.  The original Edge became “Edge Legacy” (sounds like the name of a video game series) while the new one is called by several different names. It is everything from Edge, New Edge, Chromium-based Edge, to, you guessed it, Edge Chromium.  The new one was rolled out as an automatic update over time, and a special welcome screen would have been displayed to you at the time, announcing all the changes.  Looking to the future, this new version of Edge is supposed to fully replace the older Internet Explorer in Windows 11, to finally put to bed that old remnant of the browser wars of the 1990s. (Remember Netscape vs. IE vs. Everybody Else?)

To summarize, “Edge Chromium” is nothing more than the full, formal name of the Edge browser.  Think about it like a hyphenated married name if it helps you to grasp the concept.  For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to just call it “Edge” for the rest of the column.

As for why CCleaner is telling you it needs to be closed, I would bet every cent that I’m paid to write this column that if you look at your system’s Task Manager, you’ll find one or more instances of Edge in the list of running programs.  This happens on purpose, and there are actually two settings in Edge that cause it.  To access them, from within Edge, click on the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner and select “Settings.” When the page opens, select “System and performance” from the left-hand navigation pane. Right at the top, you will see a “Startup boost” selection that plainly says that it launches the browser automatically, and in the background.  Turning that off might cause the browser to open slower, but might also stop CCleaner from complaining.  There’s another setting below that one says “Continue running background extensions and apps when Microsoft Edge is closed.”  This will keep Edge running even after you’re done with it.  Unless you have a specific need to run such extensions, I recommend turning that off.

So, as you can see, CCleaner thinks Edge is running because it actually is running.  You have a few options on how to handle this.  You can either continue to do what you’ve been doing, and allow CCleaner to close the instances of Edge for you, or, you can go and close them yourself by visiting Task Manager, highlighting each one, and clicking “End Process”.  The nuclear option is to re-configure Edge to disable the Startup Boost and the option to continue to run extensions in the background.  That should ensure Edge really is off when you tell it to be off, and CCleaner won’t find it running.

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