Mozilla introduced the Mozilla Plugin Check service back in October 2009 as a way to inform users of the Firefox web browser about outdated plugins installed in the browser. Plugins that are not up to date can pose both a security and stability risk.
The plugin check analyses the plugins of the web browser and compares their version to the latest version offered by the company that produces the plugin.
It then reports back to the user that the plugin is either up to date - and therefore relatively safe to use - or out of date and therefore potentially dangerous or problematic.
The plugin check has been extended by Mozilla engineers as of recently to work with other web browsers as well. Prior to that you would not get information about outdated plugins in other browsers.
If you visit the site with a different browser now (a non-Firefox browser) then you see information about plugins and whether they need updating or not as well.
All that needs to be done to check the installed plugins is to visit the plugincheck website to do so.
The online service can identify many popular plugins but not necessarily all of them. The plugin database is maintained by Mozilla and constantly updated and improved. It can however happen that some plugins are not checked by the service as it relies on database information for that.
Three different statuses are available: Up To Date confirming that the latest version of the plugin is installed, Update suggesting that the plugin is outdated and Research if a plugin cannot be identified yet by the service. Links lead either to the developer's homepage or a Google search depending on the individual plugin's status.
Update: Mozilla recently announced that it would integrate additional plugin security to the browser's click to play feature. Click to play is used to play plugin related contents on websites on demand only. It is the user who has to initiate the loading of the plugin on the website.
Information about the plugin's update status are displayed on those pages. While it is still possible to play contents right away, it is another reminder for Firefox users if plugins are not up to date anymore.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.