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What Do I Do About Adobe Flash End of Life in 2020?

Adobe Flash player is going away at the end of 2020.

Most major browsers will stop supporting it, and websites that rely on it will stop working.

What can you do? Nothing.

But then, you shouldn’t have to.

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TL;DR:

Adobe Flash is old, unsupported, and has security issues that will never be fixed. It’s also been replaced by the HTML 5 standard. Websites and online games that rely on Flash will stop working when browser support is finally, completely removed. Website owners fix this by rewriting their sites to use HTML 5 or other alternatives. Website visitors have no real alternatives or options.

Adobe Flash

No Flash Adobe Flash is a combination programming language and support environment originally written to make websites, webpages, and some classes of applications more interactive and graphical. The most common use has been to write games you can play online, though there are many other applications. YouTube, for example, originally used Flash to support playing videos online.

Adobe, the company that wrote and owns Flash, has announced an official end of life of December 31, 2020. Downloads of the Flash player, as well as (presumably) any other Flash-related tools, will be removed from the Adobe websites.

Most major web browsers will completely remove support for Flash on or before that date. Apple’s Safari browser has already done so.

Websites still relying on Flash after that will break.

Flash Replacement: HTML5

HTML is the language used to create webpages such as this one. Version 5 of the HTML specification, or simply HTML5, added a wide array of support intended to solve many of the problems Flash tried to solve, but uses open standard rather than proprietary technology.

Web browsers have supported HTML5 for several years. It’s extremely likely the browser you’re using to read this page online has complete HTML5 support.

The bottom line is that HTML5 should be able to replace almost all use of Adobe Flash.

The problem, however, is that HTML5 is not compatible with Adobe Flash. Webpages or applications like games currently relying on Adobe Flash will need to be rewritten in order to keep working.1

What to do about Adobe Flash end of life

You and I do nothing. There is nothing we can do. Flash is proprietary technology from Adobe.

There’s nothing to install, nothing to turn on or off, and nothing to replace it with. When it dies, it dies.

The good news is that you should have nothing to do anyway. The impending end of Flash has been known for years. The vast majority of the sites that used to use it — like YouTube — stopped using it long ago.

It really should be a non-event; much ado about nothing.

But will it be?

But what if…

What if you encounter a site that still requires Flash after Flash is no longer available?

There’s little you can do. Your options really do boil down to:

  • Stop using that website or application.
  • Stop using that website or application and complain to the website owner.

It really is on website and application owners to update their content so it no longer relies on Adobe Flash.

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Footnotes & References

1: Or something else. While HTML5 is positioned as a Flash replacement, I’m sure it doesn’t support absolutely every little quirk or feature. Flash applications that rely on something HTML5 doesn’t directly support will need to find a different solution. Fortunately, those should be few and far between.

39 comments on “What Do I Do About Adobe Flash End of Life in 2020?”

  1. Hi Leo,
    I got so tired of seeing the popup from Apache, that I had to uninstall Flash, I finally just clicked uninstall now. Then I got a little concerned, until, just now, I read your article . I feel confident that I did the right thing.
    I love reading all the things on which you comment.
    Most things I do not understand, but when it comes to something that might affect me, I do read it.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  2. Leo –

    Hi. I’m glad to see Adobe Flash Player go. A few questions, please:

    1. Even though the article said there’s nothing for us to do come January 1, 2021, I’m guessing that the users should at least uninstall the Flash Player program (I have two of them listed: Active X and NPAPI) – correct?

    2. After Dec. 31, 2020, if a website still requires Flash, and I still have Flash installed on my PC, the website simply will not work anymore – correct? How is Flash “killed” on my PC and who does the “killing”? (This brings to mind software that aren’t supported anymore [e.g., TrueCrypt], but yet they continue to work. I’m just wondering what makes Flash different.)

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Most major browser will be updated to no longer allow references to it. (Chrome, for example, doesn’t even use those copies you have installed — it’s built in to Chrome. Presumably on 1/1/21 it’ll be removed.)

      Uninstall if you like. Since browsers won’t invoke it, it should be benign either way.

      Reply
      • Hi Leo,
        I saw this the other day in an article on Komando’s website. Anything to it?

        Removing Flash from your system

        As Adobe advised, you should remove Flash Player from your system — whether you have a Mac or PC.

        It is a bit lengthy, but here is how to remove it from a Windows PC:

        For Windows operating system, download the official Uninstaller from Adobe.
        Make sure that you have closed all browsers, tabs or apps.
        Double-click on the downloaded Uninstaller.
        When prompted for confirmation, click on “Yes.”
        When complete, you will be asked to restart your computer to complete the process.
        For the last step, press the Windows key and ‘R’ to bring up the ‘Run’ command.
        In the “open” box, insert C:\Windows\system32\Macromed\Flash and hit “Enter.”
        This will open the specified folder. Delete all the files in this folder.
        Repeat the previous three steps, but open the folders and delete the content of:
        C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash
        %appdata%\Adobe\Flash Player
        %appdata%\Macromedia\Flash Player
        If you search for the folders and they don’t exist, it has been removed successfully.

        Reply
      • I finally uninstalled Flash and installed HTML5 and now I can’t run Youtube videos in Firefox. I can run rumble videos, Brighteon videos, Youtube videos in other pages, but I have to open Edge or some other broqwser to run youtube videos. This is pretty annoying.

        Reply
    • Are they any concerns about exploits that will take advantage of the Adobe Flash Player itself still being installed even if it is not used? Wouldn’t it be safer (and cleaner) to uninstall it?

      Reply
          • You *can* still use an older version of Firefox (I use version 55.0.3), if you turn off automatic updates. And on that older version of Firefox, you *can* install the NPAPI version of the “debugger” Flash player software (version 32.0.0.465 is the most recent one as of this writing). It will all work — as long as you never let Firefox or Flash player run any updates.

            I use this setup so I can run old Flash-based Adobe Flex software I wrote way back in 2008, and even then only for “emergencies.” And as we’ve migrated to our new software, I’ve used it less and less often. In fact, I haven’t used it in about four months — but I just now tested it, and it still works. And it *should* continue to work after the end of the year, so long as I don’t let Firefox or Flash Player run any automatic updates.

            But I would *NEVER* use this setup on a regular basis for normal web-browsing — Lord only knows what some nefarious web-site owner could install on their site, or what some advertising company could do with an old Flash-based ad that could still run on your machine while you’re using this setup. This is only for absolute emergencies when you have literally no other option and *must* use the Flash Player to access an old program with data that you have no other way of recovering.

  3. Adobe didn’t originally write the Flash Program… Macromedia did, and Adobe bought it from Macromedia with the intent to do away with it as they felt it was competing with some of their existing programs.

    Reply
  4. Way back in 2008 I was hired at my current job to re-write all the in-office software, which was an old (written in 1993!) DOS-based system — they literally used floppy disks to transfer data from computer to computer when they were on-site.

    We chose to use the Adobe Flex language, which uses the Adobe Flash Player as a “virtual machine” of sorts. This would make our software cross-platform — which was a very big deal in 2008, because HTML5 didn’t exist yet, and web-browsers were nowhere near powerful enough nor standardized enough to make it work for what we needed to do.

    Then the iPhone and iPad came along, and suddenly all we heard about were the horrible bugs and security vulnerabilities inherent in Flash Player. Apple banned it from their devices. Then Adobe itself finally threw in the towel and decided to end Flash Player. 🙁 At least they gave us a couple of years of warning…

    So we’ve spent the last two years re-writing everything again. This time using Angular and HTML5. I hope *those* don’t go away! LOL!

    R.I.P. Flash Player. I understand why you had to die, but I’m not happy about it. And that’s the last time I will trust an ecosystem owned and maintained by one single company, with no publicly-available open-source standards backing it up! Lesson learned.

    Reply
  5. I tried the method of Windows Key + R and entered the command. Took me to the Macromed files. I selected all of them and clicked on DELETE but get a pop up message saying “You require permission from “TrustedInstaller” to make changes to this file. Perhaps I must go to Adobe and seek the uninstaller that was mentioned. Any ideas appreciated.

    Reply
  6. I’ve used Incredimail for a long time and I really like it. However, Incredimail uses Flash and without it, it will not function. My concern is: If I uninstall Incredimail, will my folders and their contents be saved? I use Hotmail as my mail provider. Will Incredimail automatically migrate to Hotmail without losing anything? Your assistance is appreciated.

    Reply
  7. I have a number of videos in the .flv file format that I down-loaded to my computer from YouTube years ago. I cannot find Adobe Flash as a separately installed program on my computer (Windows 7). I currently can still play those videos on my computer, but when Adobe ends support for Flash at the end of the year, will I still be able to play those videos on my computer or am I out of luck?

    Reply
      • Thank you for your response Mark. I actually do currently use VLC to play the .flv videos. But I didn’t know if it had everything self-contained within the program to be able to continue doing so without any support from an external Flash program that would be disabled [Something like the sentence in the referenced webinar: “The only caveat that I’ll throw out there is that it is possible that it relies on some of the codecs that may already installed on my system but I don’t believe that’s necessarily true.”] I know it currently is able to convert .flv videos to mp4 videos, but didn’t want to have to do this before the end of the year for all the .flv videos I have. So I am heartened to know that it looks like I will still be able to play them after year’s end on my computer using VLC.

        Reply
  8. I have a few XP machines that I’ll use for backing-up, and for some older legacy programs from time to time.

    Using the Everything program, I searched for *.swf – (Shock Wave Flash) files and noticed a bunch of stuff, ArcSoft\Print, HP Printer, Videos, Windows Help Tours.

    So, I did the following and will leave it on my older machines:
    Clicked Start>Settings>Control Panel>Flash Player.
    Storage Tab: Ticked Ask me before allowing new sites to save information on this.
    Advanced Tab: Ticked Never check for Updates.

    And since I run a sandbox on my machines the likelyhood that Flash could/will cause any issues is never going to happen.
    🙂

    Reply
  9. Hi there!
    I’m Portuguese and sorry for any mistake in my writing.
    Thank you for your article.
    However, let me point out that Flash is not implemented only on websites and online apps.
    At our clinic, we use a software for the X-Ray system (QxVue Vet) which uses Flash to process/present part of the menu options and exams settings, including important ones, likes power and time, among others.
    Yesterday (January 13th) most of our menus disappeared and a flash symbol with an “i” appeared in the corresponding area. Now, I had to disconnect the PC from the Internet, and I’m trying to find an older version of flash, without any connection online, to avoid the end of life deadline.
    If I change the date to January 12th or earlier, no problem. After 00:00am on January 13th, no menus.
    I’m assuming that the flash player components or coded with the EOL date, and that is why I’m looking for a Flash older version. Meanwhile, our X-Ray system is stopped and we can’t use it.
    It’s not just a matter of online/website contents.

    Just sharing an addendum to the subject.
    My best regards

    Reply
  10. Hi I have a HP Photosmart Plus B209 printer and it used Flash and will not work now. I can’t get any help from HP because of it’s age. Do you think there is anything I can do to get it to work or am I going to have to buy a new printer?

    Reply

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