How to Make Your PC Safer by Uninstalling Flash Player

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The time has come to think seriously about removing Flash from your PC. Your system will be more secure and will probably run faster.

At one time Adobe Flash (previously Macromedia Flash) was an important adjunct to web sites and was found all over the Internet. It is probably present on the majority of PCs.  But the coming of the native video features of HTML 5 and the constant parade of security problems with Flash mean that its day is coming to a close. Flash is also a heavy user of CPU resources and is a drain on batteries. All in all, the once-ubiquitous Flash is looking more like a detriment than a useful feature. It is time to assess whether you should keep it. Unless you have specific need for Flash, many security experts are recommending its removal and here is how to do it.

Check if you have Flash

If you are not sure if Flash is present on your system, there are several ways to check. There are, in fact, numerous varieties of Flash player. There is an old stand-alone multi-platform player called Shockwave Flash. There are also different ways that Internet browsers implement Flash. For example, Internet Explorer uses a plug-in called Flash ActiveX, the Google Chrome browser has a built-in Flash player, and Firefox uses a different Flash add-on. One place where you can check your particular browser to see if Flash is installed is here. The graphic below shows a check on a Chrome browser.

Flash player check

If you have the stand-alone player, it should be listed in Control Panel under Programs—Programs and Features. An ActiveX plug-in for Internet Explorer will also be listed here if it has been installed. Add-ons for Firefox will not be listed in Control Panel, however, nor will the built-in Flash for Chrome.

Uninstalling the Flash player

There are several ways to remove Flash. One way is to use the uninstaller provided by Adobe at this link. This uninstaller works for Internet Explorer and Firefox but personally I found it did not work for Chrome. The Flash player is built into Chrome and can be disabled only in Chrome itself. An example of the uninstaller is shown below.

Flash uninstaller

Disable Chrome Flash playerTo disable the Chrome Flash player, enter “chrome:plugins” (without quotes) in the address bar. A window will open where settings for certain plug-ins can be made. The graphic on the left shows the settings for Flash. Click “Disable” and restart the browser. A setting “Enable” will then be available if you wish to restore Flash.

If you have the Shockwave Flash player, it can be uninstalled in Control Panel. It should be listed under Programs—Programs and Features.

Getting Flash back

If for some reason you find that you need Flash, it can be reinstalled at this Adobe link.

And there you have it – uninstall Flash and get a safer PC. Incidentally, you might just lose a few ads too.

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Comments

I only use a Windows 7 laptop. I'd like to be more secure and eliminate Flash, but the web is still eaten up with it. I'm a decent PC user but am certainly not at any geek or expert level. With Flash eliminated, much of the web content is eliminated. If there is a decent alternative I would love to know about it and welcome any suggestions you have.

If you need to use sites with Flash, then you might want to use a browser that has a plug-in or extension that lets you selectively enable and disable Flash. For example, NoScript for Firefox will let you block Flash except for the specific sites you want to use. There are also a number of general security suggestions in this article that are worth looking at. Also, be sure to update your Flash player every time Adobe releases another security patch.

Added later: Flashblock is another Firefox add-on. 

While the information is good, it is very premature. HTML5 is the way to go, but I would estimate 60% of the sites I visit require Flash. I hope that dwindles quickly so we can dump the annoying Flash - but not now.

Usage patterns vary. I know many people who almost never need Flash. Your figure of 60% Flash reflects your particular interests. Also, anyone who uses mobile platforms will see far less Flash. Almost any web site that is designed these days is using HTML5. It is the current standard.

All desktop - no mobile. I am trying the Firefox "Ask to Activate" for Shockwave Flash for awhile to see what happens.

Several of the comments ask questions about HTML5. HTML5 is the current standard markup language for web sites. Among other improvements, it contains support for multimedia. All modern browsers support it although Internet Explorer is not fully compliant. That means, for example, that video can be displayed seamlessly on web pages without any need for plug-ins or special APIs. The browser does the work of display. The PC user does not have to install anything extra. Many sites, including YouTube, are using HTML5. For more information, there is a Wikipedia article here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5

Two months ago, I followed instructions to remove Flash based on the recommendations from another website informing the world of it's vulnerabilities. They claimed at the time that the consumer really does not need Flash in today's environment. I followed their advice and found myself driven to distraction trying to find a suitable way to ingest information that is only viewed or heard with Flash.I finally gave up and reinstalled Flash.
I find your warning to be at least as disturbing as the first (whose name escapes me). First - what is the downside of using Flash? Please don't tell me that lions, tigers and bears are going to get me (on my). Second - What is the alternative to Flash? HTML5 ... what, where, and who is that? Is it on Google Chrome. i recently found another confusing article about Chrome not being able to play some items until they release a new version ... It's all gobbledygook for the average consumer trying to stay abreast.
Make is simple ... just like a cake recipe. Do X, Y., and Z and you get a cake.

@JimConsidine:

Jim,
I just re-read your post.

If you NEED (vs. want) it as easy as you request in the last sentence there is only one advice that will work for you:

. Don't use any computer at all.

Respectfully
Eike H

@JimConsidine:

Jim, If the baker does not stir the ingredients or sets the temp of the oven too high or the power or gas supply fail he won't have cake.

We all accept that people need driver's ed and then experience on the road to become tolerable drivers.

Computers and their software are MUCH more complex than cars and traffic and MUCH more dynamic. But nobody wants to learn the basics. Result? You have a problem.

The problems that users have and add to the mix is that often they don't even know how to update FlashPlayer, browser, you name it! Another part of the problem is that Flash Player is based on age old designs.

AND way too many web sites don't want to spend the money to convert their pages and their content to HTML5.

I bet my sweet hinders that HTML5 will have it's own can of worms; it's only a question of time!

Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
Cuz it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
....Oh NOOOOO!

The article is clear that removing or keeping Flash is up to the individual user. It says, "It is time to assess whether you should keep it." If you need it, that's your choice. It's clear that systems without Flash are more secure and the article gives ways to uninstall Flash for those PC owners who decide that they do not need Flash. If you want to keep Flash, that's your decision.

Re HTML5, browsers can be tested for how well they support HTML5 at https://html5test.com/
Firefox 39 only got 467 out of 555 points
IE11 only got 341 out of 555 points
Pale Moon 25.5 got 412 out of 555 points
Chrome with a SCORE OF 526 AND Opera with 519 top the desktop browsers.
The test also has results for mobile and tablet browsers as well as for gaming and other functions

That's a great test, howiem, Lots of detail on what elements work and which don't.

MikeR 's points are right on. In addition flash seems to be a major culprit in causing Firefox crashes, and the plug-in lingers when FF is closed down.

Firefox crashes are less frequent if Flash is prevented from automatically running. In Firefox (39), go to Tools | Add-ons and click Plugins on the left. Then you can set programs like Flash to ask before you allow them to run. Some sites, like the Internet Archives offer the alternative of flash or HTML5, but as posters above have noted, there are still too many sites using flash to uninstall it, excerpt for people who only read information.

Yes, it's a pain.

But IMHO to quite some extent because the hare brained update process seems to be too much or too intimidating, for many of my customers at least. I can't count how often I got called to update Adobe Flash.

And then, this a good example that Adobe's monopoly on Flash is not good for anybody: It rattles Adobe's reputation, it annoys users and, and...

But living without Flash? Not for my customers!

A list of viable alternatives would be helpful.

+1

I second that request!

Although I know that we would have to change a huge number of web sites. Radio stations, TV stations, news sites and likely thousands others REQUIRE it - or the user can not listen to or watch anything...

Mozilla have had a project called Shumway for years, rather than instigating a 'Manhattan Project' to get it up and running it appears to be the realm of a couple of bong hitting geeks in a basement,
Had Brendan Eich not been 'set up' it was likely to have been a priority.

Uninstall?
And no longer being able to listen to Deezer?
No, thanks.

I have pretty much given up trying to get flash to work properly with Firefox (although IE still seems functional with it). An article about the HTML 5 format might be a good idea as there may be others besides myself who would like to know more about it.

Thank you for posting about such a burning issue.
Flash is horrible, but some sites still require it. Uninstalling Flash is a bit of an overkill at the moment. I'd say it's better to prevent it from autorunning and launch it manually by clicking on the elements that require it.

Agreed. Adobe Flash is a pain and a threat but at the moment there are far, far too many web sites which still use it, including several of my online shopping accounts and even one relating to personal finance. Firefox is a frequent irritation -- albeit for the best possible reasons -- in blocking Flash and saying it's out of date, whilst Adobe is really cheap in attempting to flog extra software from McAfee which isn't needed (seriously, is Adobe that short of money that it needs to resort to such hucksterism?) I have no love for Adobe nor of Flash but until the websites I depend upon stop using Flash then for me at any rate it's still too premature to uninstall, much as I'd dearly like to.