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Adobe has updated Flash player. It has an important change to how future updates work, as well as perhaps something that should be AVOIDED at all costs.

Adobe recently pushed an update of its Flash Player - 11.2.

There's nothing really new about that. Flash has become a critical component of a lot of websites, and until HTML5 becomes more pervasive, it's the primary technology that allows videos to be embedded on websites.

Unfortunately, Flash has a history of software bugs and vulnerabilities, such that it requires periodic update.

This new version of Flash allows you to modify the way it is updated.

Unfortunately, I'm hearing reports of something less helpful that's tagging along for the ride.

Updating Flash

You've probably already encountered the popup from Adobe's Flash updater program that tells you there's a new version available and would you like to install it now or later?

Choose to do it now. Accept the license agreement and click INSTALL.

Adobe Flash Installer - Update Options

Once the install is complete, you'll be shown the dialog above which allows you to tell Flash how to update in the future.

  • Install updates automatically. Adobe Flash will just keep itself updated automatically. It's unclear if you'll be notified, but I'm hoping that this will work much like Google Chrome, which silently and automatically keeps itself updated. I recommend this option.

  • Notify me when updates are available. This essentially leaves Flash's update behavior unchanged. You'll be notified when updates are available and given the choice of when to install them.

  • Never check for updates. I strongly recommend that you not choose this, as doing so may well leave your computer vulnerable when new security issues are found in Flash.

Make your choice, click DONE, and you're done.

Or are you?

Extra baggage

Let's be clear: at this point you are done with Adobe Flash. It's installed, it's up to date.

I'm hearing reports of what at least one tech journalist is referring to as scareware being offered by the installer.

If you are offered an additional download at this point in the process, do not take it - it has nothing to do with Adobe Flash. As I said, when you've reached this point, you're done and Adobe Flash has been updated.

For the record, I was not offered this download when I updated Flash this morning. Perhaps it's not offered to everyone, perhaps different products are offered, perhaps Adobe got the message in the last 48 hours that what they're offering is ... well, to be honest, it's offensive; there's really no other word for it.

Pushing unrelated software is one thing. Pushing unrelated software that tries to scare people in to purchasing something that they don't need is just wrong.

I've written about this before, but rarely has it been this blatant.

Be Aware.

Watch and understand what it is you're installing. Avoid optional downloads unless you know that they're something you want and would, indeed, purchase yourself.

Remember that a free trial is just that - a trial. Once the trial expires, you will be asked to purchase the product.

Remember that a free scan is just that - a scan. A free scan will look for problems - it will not fix them. That's the next step, which requires purchase of a product.

Article C5150 - March 31, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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10 Comments
Karl
March 31, 2012 10:17 AM

I got this update this morning it installed with out any problems. I didn't see any additional download, if there was any it was well hidden.

After the install was finished i chose (Notify me when updates are available) The reason i do this is, i want to watch as stuff is downloading and installing, just to make sure nothing is going wrong or nothing weird is happening.

Mary
April 2, 2012 12:37 AM

Adobe used to have a warning to use the official Adobe uninstaller to remove the old version before trying to install the newest version. I might be wrong but I think the warning started with version 10.2. The official uninstaller can be obtained here:

http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-windows.html#main_Download_the_Adobe_Flash_Player_uninstaller

Is Adobe now saying a newer version can be installed over an older version without uninstalling first? Or would it still be prudent to take a few extra minutes to uninstall the old version?

I've not used an uninstaller for some time. The automatic notifications from Adobe just update Flash without a problem.
Leo
02-Apr-2012
Bob
April 3, 2012 9:01 AM

I have had an issue with Adobe Flash for some time.
I would boot up my PC and be presented with a window basically saying "adobe flash has been updated, press yes to install".
The first time I pressed yes, the window thought about it for a while, then came back with "you are not connected to the internet".
Being mildly paranoid about such things (which has saved me from bad virus infections in the past) immediately started me thinking 'how does it know there is an update if there is no connection to tell it?' and 'why tell me about an update in the past tense THEN try to download it?'
Their communication skills seem sketchy at best, and missleading at worst - i'm not surprised they try piggy-backing other crap onto you as part of the update process.

Bernard
April 3, 2012 9:04 AM

I find, much to my annoyance, that once flash has been updated, I have to reload the software for my HP flatbed scanner.

John Perry
April 3, 2012 11:09 AM

I have the same question as Bob of April 3rd of 2012. I turn on my laptop and theres a notice that there is a update and I am not on line.

Jabba the Cat
April 3, 2012 11:33 AM

The other items that you have to watch out for during installs is things like the Google or Ask tool bar turds which by default are ticked ON for installation. It always pays to read every screen during installations and not mindlessly click the NEXT button.

Mike
April 3, 2012 6:30 PM

Worse. I keep getting notices to update TO the same version that I've already updated to. Finally, I just got tired of being told to update to what I already have, and tell it no. It keeps trying, and I keep refusing.

You might try explicitly uninstalling Flash in Control Panel, and then installing the latest directly from adobe.
Leo
04-Apr-2012
Eric Brightwell
April 4, 2012 9:53 AM

After experiencing problems with Flash interfering with other programs I follow a simple rule – I do not install Flash on my main PC, but instead I keep another "disposable" PC with Flash and any other dodgy software installed on it, so that I can use these products without risking the main PC. If the "disposable" PC crashes then its no big deal.

James
April 6, 2012 12:51 PM

Leo, your summary at the beginning of the article seems a bit scary. I read that bit from the email and thought, "Oh, no! What have I done?"

I had to read your article and the one you link to, to put my mind at ease. I don't remember if I was offered anything else, but I know I wouldn't have let it install.

Ever since I downloaded your recommendation, CCleaner, I haven't found the need for any other system tool.

Ken in San Jose
April 7, 2012 10:13 PM

Since the latest Flash update I am unable to view videos on National Geographic sites. All other sites seem to work fine. When I click on a National Geographic video I get a screen telling me I need to get the latest version of Flash. Then the video window goes blank green. This happens in both IE8 and Google Chrome browsers.
I have the latest version of Flash. I have contacted National Geographic about the problem and they say they have recently upgraded their software but have no answer for my problem.
Has anyone else had this problem?
Does anyone have an answer?

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