Flash Player is often the target of virus attack – update it for better security, performance and reliability. Adobe Flash Player is the most common software program for viewing animations and movies within a web browser. It is installed as an add-on or extension into the web browser and is one of the core Windows programs that you should keep updated.
You probably already have it on your computer – most websites use Flash Player to display multimedia content e.g. you need it to watch streaming videos like those on YouTube. Without it you will not be able to use many websites or they will not display properly – and they will keep prompting you to install Flash Player…
Why Update It? We have lost count of the number of computers we see with very old versions of Flash installed. Many people ignore repeated reminders to update Flash because they don’t know what Flash is or are afraid it may cause a problem. However, there are 2 very good reasons to keep Flash up to date:
1. Performance and Reliability – The latest version provides better memory management and improved video performance including full hardware acceleration for the video pipeline – put simply, this helps make playback of videos (especially HD 1080p or 720p videos) on sites like YouTube much smoother – even on older computers.
2. Security – Because Flash use is so widespread it is often the target of virus attack. Regular security updates help block any security holes found in Flash and keep your computer safe – using an older version leaves your computer more exposed to viruses and other malware.
Note: if you have Windows XP, check in Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs for a program called Macromedia Flash (very old pre-2006 version of Flash) – if it is present then uninstall it and restart your computer before moving on to the next steps.
How To Update Flash Player – There are different versions of Flash Player for Internet Explorer and other web browsers such as Firefox/Opera. If you use more than one browser, you need to update Flash on each browser i.e. do all the following steps on your main browser first and then on each of the others.
Note: Google Chrome contains an integrated Flash Player which is updated automatically so there is no need to apply any specific Adobe updates, just keep Chrome up to date.
You can check which version of Flash you have by visiting Adobe’s website here. You should see a message telling you that Flash is successfully installed and the number in the ‘Version Information’ box tells you which version of Flash you have – make a note of it.
Now visit Adobe’s website here to check for the latest version (currently 16.0). If it is a higher number than the version you have installed, click the ‘Download Now’ button to download and install the latest version (if there are other options ticked to include in your download e.g. the Google Toolbar or McAfee Security Scan, untick them unless you really want them).
The latest version of Flash Player will be downloaded – just follow Adobe’s simple instructions to install it. The latest version will automatically overwrite the older version and you should now be up to date – you can revisit Adobe’s website above if you want to make sure. Remember to update it on a regular basis – a reminder will pop up in your system tray (bottom right of screen) when a new version is available.