Updating Adobe Flash Player The Right Way

Some recent changes in Google Chrome have made the old tutorial I made about updating Adobe Flash a bit obsolete, so I now introduce a new, better one here. :) This will also work for Adobe Shockwave as well. I have a new video tutorial for installing Adobe Flash with this post also.

There is a right way, a wrong way, and a risky way to update Adobe Flash.

Unfortunately, the risky way and the wrong way are the same. The only difference is that the risky way you upgrade or install Adobe Flash. The wrong way installs malware on your computer and you don’t know you used the wrong way.

First, an example of the wrong way so you know why you need to upgrade or install Adobe Flash the right way.

The wrong way to update Adobe Flash.

Adboe Flash Player Icon
Adobe Flash Player

You’re on your computer. Perhaps you are reading your email or checking your Facebook page. Maybe you are just plain old “surfing the net.” If it’s email or Facebook, maybe you get a link sent from a friend for a cute YouTube video of their baby daughter. If your surfing, you click on a link for a video also (let’s say you were on a United States Treasury website and the video was supposed to have additional information).

You click on the link (from a trusted source).

Instead of the video, you get a YouTube page with a pop-up saying you need a new updated version of Adobe Flash – just click here to update. Everything looks legit, it looks like an Adobe pop-up and your on YouTube right? You click to update, you are taken to the Adobe website, everything seems to work well, and find yourself back at the YouTube main page. Everything’s cool, right?

Actually, you just infected your computer with malware.

You see, your friend’s email or Facebook account was hacked. Oh, if you were surfing the US Treasury earlier this year, their website was actually hacked to install malware (not this particular method but it was installing malware) along with tens of thousands of other sites. The web pages you saw were fake and the update was fake. The only thing real was the last page you were sent to on YouTube.

While this is one typical way of how malware is spread, it does not always take this amount of interaction on your part  to infect your computer. There are now drive-by malware systems that will infect your computer without you doing anything and all you have to do is visit an infected web page.

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL2mmSSfKks” type=”youtube”]How To Update or Install Adobe Flash – Windows 7[/mc]

Adobe Flash is installed on nearly every computer.

It has become a standard for interactive web content like games and graphics. Some websites are nearly useless without Flash. No matter what browser you may use, you probably have a Flash plug-in. There really is not a good alternative to making nearly universal interactive web content. Up till the last year or so, it was fairly safe.

Because Flash is so prevalent, it has become a target for those that want to get malware onto computers.

They look very hard to find holes in Flash that will allow a computer to get infected. There was a time when Adobe updated Flash fairly infrequently. With the malware out now, Adobe is releasing updates more often. It it important that you keep Flash updated on your computer as well. Otherwise, the malware that affects the old version will easily install on your computer and maybe just by visiting an infected web page.

Also, when you know your version of Flash is current because you just updated yourself, you will know there is a problem with any site telling you to update it!

How to update Adobe Flash the right way.

  1. First and most importantly, you need to do this with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Google Chrome has its own Flash player and updates it automatically. If you try this with Chrome, it won’t work. This is the only real difference between this and my previous tutorial.
  2. Type adobe.com in the address bar of Internet Explorer.
  3. Click on the “Get Adobe Flash Player” button.

    Get Adobe Flash
    Click on this button on the Adobe.com webpage to update Flash Player
  4. Just follow the directions on Adobe’s site from there. You will most likely have a couple security checks to approve. The ActiveX bar near the top of the browser window and another Windows security box. Approve them both.  After you have upgraded or installed Flash you can return to the Adobe.com site and install the Shockwave plugin the same way.

If you have a problem with updating Flash using this method there are two likely reasons:

  • You already have the latest version of Flash installed. This has been something I have seen several times doing these tutorials and I think it is the most likely reason.
  • You may need to uninstall the previous version first. This does happen and if your not sure you already have the current version then uninstall from the Add/Remove Programs in your computer’s Control Panel and then install from the Adobe site. If you need to uninstall Flash here is a how-to on uninstalling Adobe Flash as well as any other program in Windows 7.

This should take care of installing Adobe Flash or updating Adobe Flash.

It is all too easy (bit of Star Wars reference there in case you missed it) to fall for installing malware by following any notifications you may see while on your computer. There are legitimate notifications to do updates and the fake ones look just like them. That is why I will almost always go directly to Adobe.com to update any Adobe product or use the option to update from the program’s menu if there is one (there is not one for Flash). It will never hurt to be safe and go directly to the source. Even better, keep your computer updated before you would receive a notification and you will be even better off.

As always, if you have questions about doing this or if something is unclear please let me know in the comments below. If it helps, please share with your friends.