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Some antivirus apps causing Google Chrome 78 to crash w/ ‘Aw, Snap!’ on Windows 10

The “stable” version of Google Chrome 78 rolled out to Windows and Mac a week ago, but for some on Windows, this release has been anything but “stable.” A change in Google Chrome 78 has caused some antivirus applications, like Symantec Endpoint Protection, to crash Chrome on Windows 10 with an “Aw, Snap!”

With Chrome 78, Google introduced a Windows 10 specific feature called “renderer code integrity,” which is designed to prevent unsigned code from taking control of Chrome’s page rendering processes. Generally speaking, this was designed to stop most viruses from being able to change the way Chrome’s pages load.

Instead, once Chrome 78 rolled out, many Windows 10 users were faced with “Aw Snap” crashes on every page. After some careful sleuthing by the Chromium team, spotted by Techdows, it was found that, ironically, antivirus programs, among others, were injecting unsigned code of their own into Chrome. Specifically, at least these four apps have been confirmed so far as causing “Aw Snap” crashes:

  • Symantec Endpoint Protection
  • PC Matic
  • Print Audit
  • Palo Alto Traps

Each of these programs attempts to inject itself into Google Chrome to be able to keep an eye on internet traffic (or printing) directly, generally with the goal of preventing users from browsing malicious websites. This is usually done by injecting a DLL file into every process named “chrome.exe.”

However, everything Google Chrome does, from tabs and extensions to the renderer, is done in a “chrome.exe” process. By indiscriminately latching on to every Chrome process, these apps end up attached to things they don’t need to be.

Thankfully, there are many different solutions to fix these “Aw Snap” crashes on Windows 10, depending on which app is causing the problem for you.

Update Symantec Endpoint Protection

The issue with Symantec Endpoint Protection causing Aw Snap crashes was found months before Chrome 78 hit stable, and Symantec rolled out an update in preparation for this. However, many have not yet updated to version 14.2 of Symantec Endpoint Protection.

Some have noted that Symantec Endpoint Protection may still interfere with Chrome 78 following the 14.2 update, in which case reinstalling that app should do the trick.

Disable renderer code integrity

If you’re using one of the other affected apps, or if you still see “Aw Snap” crashes after updating Symantec, you can manually disable Chrome 78’s renderer code integrity features to get back up and running quickly. To do so, right-click your Google Chrome shortcut, and choose “Properties.” In the box labeled “Target,” add a space after the final quotation mark, then add disable-features=RendererCodeIntegrity.

When done, the text in your “Target” box will look similar to this:

“C:\Users\Admin\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” –disable-features=RendererCodeIntegrity

If you’re managing Chrome for enterprise devices, you can also disable the renderer code integrity via a policy setting.

Be sure you remember to undo these changes once the affected software has updated to be compatible with Chrome’s renderer code integrity.

Wait it out

Due to the discovery of more software that cause “Aw Snap” crashes related to Chrome 78’s renderer code integrity, Google is rolling out an update to disable the feature temporarily. Hopefully the rollout should take no more than a few days, but once the update arrives, you should be able to browse as normal without crashes.

Be sure you keep your computer’s other software updated, as Google has emphasized that renderer code integrity is only being disabled temporarily while they work with other software companies to fix any issues. Thankfully, Google has said they will give us all a heads-up before they enable renderer code integrity again.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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