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One of the great features of Electron is its built-in support for automatic app updates. Unfortunately, the Electron docs say that you need an update server to use this feature. Electron provides a service for this, but it's only available for code-signed apps. The implication is that you have two options:

  1. Codesign your app and use Electron's update service with GitHub Releases; or
  2. Host your own update server.


But! It turns out that there is a secret 3rd option: you can use statically-hosted files to manage your automatic updates!

This removes the need for any server logic whatsoever. You can still use GitHub Releases, just without needing to use Electron's service as a middle-man. Or you can use any other static host. No code-signing, no server, just boring old static files.

The rest of this post assumes that you're already making Windows builds for your app using Electron Forge and Squirrel. If you're building for different targets or using a different maker, I'm not sure how transferrable these instructions are.

Getting the right files

The following is a stripped-down sample of an Electron Forge config file for Windows, using Squirrel as the maker, for an application called "MyApp":

/** @file forge.config.js */

/** @type {import('@electron-forge/shared-types').ForgeConfigMaker} */
const squirrelMaker = {
  name: '@electron-forge/maker-squirrel',
  /** @type {import('@electron-forge/maker-squirrel').MakerSquirrelConfig } */
  config: {
    exe: 'MyApp.exe',
    setupExe: 'MyAppSetup.exe',
  /** @type {import('electron-packager').OfficialPlatform[]} */
  platforms: ['win32'],

/** @type {import('@electron-forge/shared-types').ForgeConfig} */
module.exports = {
  packagerConfig: {
    name: 'MyApp',
  makers: [squirrelMaker],

Running npx electron-forge make with that config results in a bunch of files, including these ones:

  • out/make/
  • out/make/${VERSION}-full.nupkg
  • out/make/

Those files are all you need for a static-file auto-update service!

Hosting the update files

When you use the built-in autoUpdater from Electron, you provide a base URL where it will go look for those files. In particular, it looks for that RELEASES file and uses that to decide whether or not an update is a available and what the name of the update file is.

If your baseUrl is, you'd upload those output files to,${VERSION}-full.nupkg, etc. As long as the file names match what's in that RELEASES file, you can then get automatic updates working with something like the following in your app:

import { autoUpdater } from 'electron';

  url: baseUrl, // e.g. ""
  headers: {
    'Cache-Control': 'no-cache', // Could add more subtlety here...

// You probably want fancier logic than this, but this would get the job done:
autoUpdater.checkForUpdates(); // Check on startup
setInterval(() => {
}, 1000 * 60 * 60); // Check for updates every hour

Hosting with GitHub Releases

You can use GitHub Releases as your static update host, just by uploading those output files to a release. Here's a sample GitHub CLI command that would do that:

# Assuming environment variable RELEASE_VERSION (the semver release version)
gh release create \
  --title "My Application v$RELEASE_VERSION" \
  "out/make/" \
  "out/make/$RELEASE_VERSION-full.nupkg#Nupkg" \

Then your baseUrl would be$OWNER/$REPO/releases/latest/download.

📝 Note: If you use GitHub releases, you'll need every release to be for the same application, since GitHub doesn't provide any way to use a URL to filter releases by name/tag/etc.