Why does Adobe Flash need to constantly update itself every few days? Is the code that awful?

I can’t recall any software of applet I’ve ever had, short of Virus checkers that need to be updated frequently, that needs to update itself as often as Adobe Flash. It seems every few days there’s a freaking code update required.

Adobe is supposedly a professional software company and should be able to write reasonably stable software. Why does Adobe Flash need such constant updating?

I know very little of computer programming, but it seems to me that with the proliferation of sites like Youtube, there must several attempts being made by hackers to exploit a part of flash, to which Adobe must counteract.

And with that, why is it that every time there’s an update to a new version it feels the need to put an icon on your desktop? I can’t think of a single time in all my years of needing it, that I’ve ever wanted to open it without having a file or link to click on (which automatically opens it by association). Yes, I’m sure some people do want to open it for some reason, but I’d wager that 99% of the people that use only the free Acrobat Reader have never used the desktop icon to open it.

Acrobat Reader =/= Adobe Flash, although they are both shitty pieces of software in their own right. I try to avoid both as much as I can. Luckily, Adobe Reader has many very viable alternatives; Flash, not so much.

The answer to the OP, by the way, is that Adobe isn’t terribly rigorous in terms of coding to avoid security problems, preferring to follow the time-honored tradition of waiting until a zero-day exploit is uncovered, then scrambling to patch it in a week or so. They’re not the first company to operate that way, nor will they be the last, but it’s going to drive them to obscurity. That, and following the (also time-honored, see also AOL, Symantec, McAfee) tradition of making one piece of software that fills a niche try to take over a computer and insert itself into twenty different places where it really only needs to exist in one. Whenever I update Flash in Windows, I always have to hunt for the exe that just installs Flash, not the Firefox add-on that installs a Firefox plugin that installs Flash.

Bottom line is, Adobe is not a particularly good software company. Outfits as big as they are rarely end up being good, anyway.

Totally missed that the OP was talking about Flash (even wondered why the first person to respond mentioned it). Probably because Reader just put out new version so I’ve been upgrading it on all my computers as it’s been popping up (and then deleting the icons of the desktops).

I really don’t know what you are talking about. This is the first real update to Flash in ages. Yeah, there were two security patches last cycle. Firefox had what, 14? (in 3.0, 3.5 had at least 6).

And, no, following the coding practice of even Microsoft or Apple should not be a reason to drive them into an early grave. Alternatives to Flash have been out for a while, and I still have yet to see anyone remove the flash version of anything. And I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t install flash on their main computer–even people who hate it.

You can disable automatic notifications by unchecking the box telling Adobe to notify you when an update is available. Here’s a link:


You can also right-click a flash screen and click “Settings…” in the menu that appears, and “Advanced…” in the dialog box to get to the Settings Manager.

You aren’t downloading “updates” from websites that claim you need to update your Flash, are you? (Just checking.)

I would not recommend doing this. Since the Flash player is integrated into the web browser, and the Internet is full of malicious websites trying to infect your computer by exploiting known bugs in older software, it’s very important to keep the Flash player (as well as any other browser plug-ins) up to date with all the latest security patches. Unless you know what you’re doing, the automatic notification feature is probably the easiest way to keep you updated.

Something is wrong with your computer if Flash is really updating itself every few days. The update process probably did not succeed for some reasons. Both Flash and Adobe Reader come out with new releases approximately every couple months or so, similar to other software.

I will check and see if that’s an issue, but I will guarantee you Flash updates itself far more often than “every couple months or so”

Zero day vulnerabilities for Flash are almost common. Absolutely update it when it requires it. As far as the quality of the software, well, Adobe is the new Microsoft circa 1999. Security was never their number one priority. MS now is pretty sharp about out of the box security.

You might want to run Flashblock if you’re using Firefox to cover your bases or run your browser as a limited user. Vista/7 IE runs by default in a low privileged mode. If you use Adobe reader its helpful to disable Javascript support. Most PDF exploits are javascript based.

I found this list with the dates of recent Flash player releases on the interweb, and it seems to match what I remember:


The last 3 releases happened in June 2010, Feb 2010 and Dec 2009. Something is definitely wrong if it tries to update itself more often than that. I would probably try manually uninstalling everything Flash related and start over again.

Flash does update itself quite often. This has been discussed all over the Internet, generally on sites pleading for an alternate “open source” alternative for FLASH.

I like the fact that many sites are using “Flash Cookies” and a lot of people don’t realize that yet.

Remember there are major updates and minor ones. I have FLASH Block on my browser so I rarely use FLASH other than YouTube.

To change the way Flash Updates Go to the Global Settings Panel

To View your Flash Cookies Go to Website Storage Panel

I guess there are different opinions on what counts as frequent updates. The list I cited includes all publicly released minor updates. It’s certainly not any more often than, say, Firefox. If we only count major updates, the dates would be 10.1 in Jun 2010, 10.0 in Oct 2008, and 9.0 in Jun 2006.

To be fair to Adobe, Flash is a security nightmare. It takes a stream of unsecured data from the internet, and does complex stuff with it, including decoding video, displaying pictures, and converting actionscript into interpretable commands. An error in the code that handles all this input could expose the browser process or operating system to malware. And the bad guys are constantly probing Flash for a weakness they can exploit.


Adobe is definitely the number one vector to pwn your computer, either through Flash or Acrobat or one of the related applications. You’d be limited in your internet usage if you tried to do without them, but you can’t ignore updates, because many of the vulnerabilities can lead to complete compromise of your system that can be fully automated. Likewise, keep your Windows or OS X up-to-date. I used to find it obnoxious to deal with the updates from MS, but then I started working for a computer security company and discovered that the worst of the MS exposures such as the Conficker virus exploited vulnerabilities that had already been fixed.

I honestly think the reason is countless hooks and shackles put into the software that change every day… I doubt the security part of it very much. But, there is the issue of RPP (Revenue Protection Program). There are so many squirrely behaviors with Flash to protect, Copyrights, Force one to watch what one would normally ignore (down your throat marketing). Anyone notice the BIG increase in sound volume when ads come up…that was illegal to do in the TV world but FLASH rules and will be updated every time Adobe finds a new way to track you, sell to you or an advertiser… I miss clicking on the monkey. FLASH is BIG BRO S/W… nothing better.

The infuriating part of it is that every time it changes my default search engine to Yahoo. Making it somewhat similar to malware.

Note that this thread updates itself every year or so.
I was surprised that no one mentioned the Flash controversies - until I noted the date of the OP.

Didn’t Adobe themselves deprecate Flash recently and recommend everyone go to HTML5?