A Life Without Flash

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 6, 2010
Updated • Oct 31, 2016

Adobe has a market penetration of 99% which means that it is installed on 99 out of 100 computer systems according to a study posted on the Adobe website.

Security vulnerabilities on the other hand become more frequent and users have to update their versions of Flash regularly to patch these issues secure their computer systems.

If you'd remove Flash from your system, you'd make it more secure. But which consequences would it have in terms of usability? Are there websites and services that would stop working completely or partially? To find out we need to take a look at the functionality of Flash. Why is it installed on so many computer systems and what are the core services that are offered in Flash?

What is Flash being used for?

There are not any official statistics about Flash usage on websites, at least none that we could find during our research. We were able to identify the following sectors in which Flash is being used:

  • Media Streaming: Mainly video and audio players that stream videos on websites.
  • Games and entertainment: Many games are created in Flash.
  • Advertisements: Flash ads are a common occurrence on the web.
  • Services and sites: Some site use Flash for specific services, like a chat for instance, or on their whole website.

Update: It is 2016 now and technology has advanced. HTML5 video and audio is used on many sites and have started to replace Flash in the process. Flash is still an important part of the web, but its importance is fading with each passing week. End

HTML5 introduces media streaming capabilities which should reduce the need for Flash in that area. YouTube for instance is offering an experimental HTML5 video player that can be used instead of the Flash player to view the videos on the site. There are also some options to either replace the Flash player in a web browser with a media player that is installed on the computer system.

Firefox add-ons like Media Player Connectivity replace the Flash player, some display the output in the web browser while others redirect it to the local media player.

Games on the other hand cannot be played if Flash is not installed. The same is true for advertisements (which most Internet users probably won't miss at all).

Services and sites on the other hand depend largely on the user's personal web surfing habits. Flash player might still be needed if websites with Flash exclusive features are accessed.

Can you live without Flash?

It is quite possible to not install Flash. Alternatives are available at least partially in the media streaming sector. Not all media sites might work though but the way is paved for a Flash less future. Casual gamers on on the other hand have barely any other options. Java might be an alternative but the majority of games are served in Flash, and Java is not overly secure either.

One option that you could consider is running a special browser only for Flash, or running a Flash browser in a sandbox or virtual environment to improve security and reduce the impact of successful exploits on the device.

Now You: What's your opinion on the matter? Do you use Flash? Do you have plans to stop using it in the future?

A Life Without Flash
Article Name
A Life Without Flash
The article looks at what the Flash technology is used on the Internet, and whether it is possible to use devices without Adobe Flash.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Jim said on November 4, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Flash is just sluggish if you ask me. I’ve looked into html5 and it seems eons better than flash.

    1. wiwi said on March 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      the flash palyer is and reduceid thing
      try to live without flash, iw a onger life for computers, a huge amount of less virus and hacking, a huge huge huge way to avoid and reduce sex adds porno adds etc

      The flash player for a normal user ( no gamer) has pushed us to change evry 2 years unecessarly our computers

      proprietray soft, always updates for securirty reasons etc

  2. Bewc said on April 9, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Not a fan of plugins. Flash/Silverlight, etc. It’s still installed for youtube, the occasional webinar/product demo that doesn’t use youtube, and movie trailers. Flash is coming to an end in the next couple years and it couldn’t be soon enough. I run flash block on ie, firefox, and iron. I disable plugins in Opera, and enable it when I am missing something.

    I don’t miss it 9 out of 10 days.

    Silveright has better video in my opinion, but it’s not everywhere, and wouldn’t matter. Plug-ins = trouble. Limit the trouble by limiting the plug-in.

  3. Jack said on April 7, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    The problem isn’t always Flash. As often as not it’s lazy website coding by people who seem to think no website is complete without every bell and whistle known to man. This even goes for many high-profile commercial sites, whose owners we might think should know better.

    I have Flash – haven’t really found a way to avoid it. It’s toggled in Firefox so it doesn’t run unless I allow it – and the amount of 100% unnecessary Flash I encounter is astonishing. Any site whose home page is 100% Flash – and that’s a lot these days – doesn’t even get a second glance.

  4. john said on April 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    One category you missed is education. Flash is heavily used for interactive training. Imagine a training module on how locks works. Instead of some dry text you have a flash module where the user reads about how a lock works while moving a boat thru the locks, raising/lowering the water level, etc.

    Or imagine a printer technician who has to learn how to repair the latest printer, but can’t get her hands on one. A flash printer simulation would walk the tech thru different tasks needed to rip the printer apart. She could use a virtual screwdriver to remove screws, open panels, etc. We’ve actually done this in flash where the entire printer was built in 3D in flash so the technician could strip it down to the bare chasis.

  5. HereAndNow said on April 7, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Some of the key issues with Flash are:
    1. it tends to be a resource hog (CPU, battery life, …).
    2. it is prone to crashes, on some platforms (i.e. it is not robust across all OSes).
    3. it is notorious for security issues.
    4. it does not integrate seamlessly with the rest of a web page’s content (try using keyboard commands on a page when flash content has focus).
    5. it is based on proprietary technology controlled by one company.
    6. it requires the installation & maintenance of a plug-in.

    I think Apple not supporting Flash on the iPad (nor iPod/iPhone) is great! It provides companies the necessary business incentive, to migrate from proprietary web technologies to open web standards. And as more websites migrate to HTML5, there will even be an incentive for desktop users to migrate from legacy web browsers (IE6/7/8) to modern web browsers (Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Opera/IE9).

    1. JIm said on August 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      1 other thing:
      “6. it requires the installation & maintenance of a plug-in.”

      I hate having to use plugins. I have an extreme dislike of the totally unnecessary “Silverlight” platform which takes over my whole desktop pc!

      Then there’s my arch enemy, Java. I frickin despise Java, which is just plain lousy software that requires the system’s whole resources and a lot of time to even start up!) Java has always been a memory and power hogging mess. It doesn’t work well on ANY platform. On Linux its a mess. Java seems to be ok as the basic OS for devices, like a microwave… thats it.

      my 2C LOL
      peace man

    2. JIm said on August 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      “Some of the key issues with Flash are:….blah blah”

      yeah, but what else are we supposed to use? Java? There IS nothing else and yet its being squashed because apple doesnt support it with their weak mobile product(s). This is a huge step back!

  6. Miggdrasil said on April 7, 2010 at 9:14 am

    When Firefox will support HTML 5 I will definetly stop using flash. Really looking forward to..

  7. The Mighty Buzzard said on April 7, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Flash is evil, slow, and annoying as hell. It needs to die in a fire and have it’s ashes scattered to the four corners of the world so that it can never be reformed.

    1. JIm said on August 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      ya, fine. BUT first lets replace it with SOMETHING! Adobe, under pressure from apple? all of a sudden says flash is done and screw us all! They still promote their flash dev platform for some reason, even though there wont be any more flash updates. As of Aug 15, its no longer supported on tablets or smart phones, period. Further,it will be no longer supported starting with Desktop IE 9, either. I have no idea what sense this makes since the whole world uses it and there’s NO alternative. It sets tablets and Android phones back 10 years!

      Its one thing to say we would like an alternative, but another to suddenly force us all to go without it, when half the internet is in flash!

      oh well..
      peace man

  8. Duckeenie said on April 7, 2010 at 1:53 am

    Games cannot be played without flash? Only the other day I saw quake 2 running on HTML 5.

    1. Martin said on April 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Duckeenie but it is very rare. There are also Java games but the majority of popular gaming portals use Flash.

  9. nicbot said on April 7, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Not yet, but I soon hope to. I’m just not a fan of Adobe in general.

  10. Jojo said on April 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I only wish that companies would STOP building websites that are 100% Flash driven. Media AND sports companies do this too often. It is a real pain to navigate such sites.

  11. DanTe said on April 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I love how Apple barred Flash – ostensibly for security reasons. Like Apple OS are “secure” in any way shape or form.

    The iPad is so secure, a jailbreak program was written and released on the same day it came out. What a hoot.

    1. Urabon Head said on April 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      what a bone head. if you cannot distinguish between the risk you voluntarily expose yourself to by jail breaking your device, and the risk that your device is breeched because it is running as intended, with flash, you should stick to your own world of false security.

  12. TatoSgr said on April 6, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    I’ve been using lately the internal flash that is now on Chrome.. And use the normal flash to see and/or download videos in firefox

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.