I like to keep an eye on what is happening on my Mac and a utility that I have used for a long time is MenuMeters. This is a menu bar utility that shows processor usage, disk usage, upload and download speed, and free and used memory. This utility makes it easy to spot problems that might otherwise be missed and it highlighted an issue with ksfetch. So what is it and how do you stop it?
When starting the Mac I noticed that something downloads a lot of data and it can be seen in the download speed in the MenuMeters display in the menu bar. Downloads run at maximum speed for a minute on boot up.
Without MenuMeters or a similar utility, this behaviour would go unnoticed, which is why it is so useful. When your Mac is slow for some reason, MenuMeters can tell you why – high processor, disk, internet or memory usage.
Opening Activity Monitor in the Applications/Utilities folder lets you look at what is happening underneath the pretty OS X interface. MenuMeters showed the internet bandwidth being used was very high, but it didn’t show what was using it.
Selecting the Network tab in Activity Monitor shows all the apps and services that are running in the background and clicking the Rcvd Bytes heading sorts them into order with the highest at the top (click again if the lowest is at the top).
Here you can see that ksfetch is responsible for downloading 35.9 MB. This screen shot was taken about a minute after starting up and ksfetch them disappears from Activity Monitor because it quits and only running apps and services are displayed.
After some research it was discovered that ksfetch is Google’s software updater. It runs automatically and checks for updates, then downloads them and installs them if there are any available. If you have or have had Google Chrome or Google Drive or something else from Google on your Mac then you will have ksfetch, but you won’t see it unless you run Activity Monitor at the right time, just as it is running.
There are several potential problems with ksfetch and one is that it can cause issues with third party firewalls. Some people complain that it triggers and alert several times an hour.
Another problem is that if you are on a slow internet connection, your Mac could be slow for five minutes after starting up, or whenever ksfetch runs.
An issue that I have is the bandwidth used. When I am out with my MacBook I always use a free Wi-Fi hotspot to get on the internet. Occasionally, they don’t work (sometimes they just need to reboot the router, so it’s worth asking someone if they can do this). When the Wi-Fi doesn’t work I turn my phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot and connect to it. The phone then accesses the internet through 3G.
Data usage is limited on a mobile phone though and typically you get 0.5 or 1GB a month, which isn’t much, especially if the Mac is downloading 35+ MB before you have even started to do any work.
It is possible to stop ksfetch from running, but you need to enter some commands from the Terminal. Go to Applications/Utilities and run Terminal. At the command prompt, enter the following to uninstall ksfetch for the current user:
(Enter all on one line.) To remove ksfetch for all users, enter:
That is a big command (all on one line again), so don’t type it in. Click and drag over it with the mouse and press Command+C to copy it. Click in the Terminal window and press Command+V to paste it.
The downside of removing ksfetch is that Google software like Chrome, will not automatically update. You will need to manually check for updates, download them and install them. It’s not exactly hard though, is it?