Three Alternatives to Using Adobe Flash

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Sam R. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Is there an alternative to Adobe Flash? I just read John Lister's article 'Flash Blocked in Firefox over Security Risk,' and I'm concerned that Flash might download a virus onto my system. I'm also concerned that Flash is a major CPU hog which slows down my system. If there is no alternative to Flash, and I block Flash entirely, how can I watch YouTube videos? "

My response:

Unfortunately there is currently no alternative to Flash on Windows systems that allows you to play Flash content (that I am aware of). There are, however a few alternatives in the way that you use Flash which you can try.

Uninstall The Flash Plugin

If you are concerned that Flash might compromise your system or if you think that Flash is eating too many resources, then you might want to uninstall Flash completely. This will prevent Flash from ever running on your system, but you will be prompted to download Flash for any website with Flash content. In that case, I think suggestion #2 (below) would be a better idea.

Keep Flash, but Set to "Ask to Activate"

Optionally you can keep the Flash plugin installed, but set it to "Ask to Activate".

To do so in Firefox (for example): go into Tools -> Addons, then go to the Plugins on the left sub-menu and scroll down until you see Shockwave Flash. Next to the Options button you will see a button with a scroll down option that allows you to choose "Always activate" or "Ask to activate". If you choose "Ask to activate," then your browser will block all Flash content outright, but you will also have the option to enable Flash content for specific websites (this is also known as "whitelisting" a website).

In some instances, websites such as Youtube.com will still play videos without Flash installed -- that's because Youtube can also play videos using HTML5 instead of Flash, which is supported by most major browsers.

Use a Flash Plugin to Help Control Flash

Another option is to use a third party addon / plugin that can give you more control over Flash.

For example, you can use a plugin called Flash Control for Firefox (which is similar to "FlashControl" for Google Chrome) which can allow certain parts of a website to run Flash content, rather than allowing the entire site to run Flash. With these plugins you can also whitelist specific websites, so you don't have to keep allowing an exception.

The downside to the added flexibility of controlling Flash in this manner is that the plugin may fail to work at all on some sites, leaving you wondering "Why isn't Flash working?" In that case, you may want to use suggestion #2, which is a much simpler approach to blocking and allowing Flash only when you explicitly say so.

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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