Living without plug-ins such as Flash or Java

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 12, 2015
Updated • May 23, 2018

The conquest to rid the web of proprietary plug-ins is in full swing. While it will take years to get rid of them all, the web is slowly transitioning away from plug-ins.

Media sites like YouTube or Vimeo stream videos in HTML5 video now and gaming sites start to host games that are based on HTML5 as well or soon the new Unity which does not require a plug-in anymore to work.

But if you'd turn off Flash, Silverlight, Java and and other plug-in right now, what would it mean for your day to day activities?

Probably the number one reason for turning off plug-ins is security. Java and Flash are updated regularly to fix new security vulnerabilities that were just discovered. It seems like a vicious cycle without escape and while improvements have been made to update notifications and delivery, it is still largely necessary to keep an eye on new releases and push them out to your devices as soon as they become available to protect them from potential attacks.

Adobe Flash

For a long time, Adobe Flash was considered essential by many Internet users. The plugin, supported by most Internet browsers, allowed you to watch videos on sites like YouTube and to play games directly in the browser. Flash-only sites are rare but they exist, and some web applications make use of Flash as well exclusively, for instance in web courses.

While that has not changed, the technology that websites use to provide these contents is changing and a consequence of this is that Flash becomes less of a must have than before.

There are still many sites out there that require Flash while others are providing pure HTML5 or plug-in-less solutions, or at least hybrid solutions that support Flash and HTML5.

Some sites, Hulu for example, require Flash to work. If you visit Hulu without Flash installed (or Flash disabled), you get an error message that it is required to watch shows on the site.

Netflix on the other hand supports both HTML5 and Silverlight, while Amazon Instant Video does not support HTML5 at this point in time.

If you use online streaming services, chance is you may still need Adobe Flash to access some of them.

Audio streaming sites like Pandora or Soundcloud require Adobe Flash as well and refuse to play if the connecting browser does not support the technology.

soundcloud flash

Flash has a strong foothold in the media streaming and entertainment sector of the Internet.


Java too is used for a variety of purposes on the Internet. There are game sites on the Internet that require Java and some web applications do to.

Some online banks may require Java for functionality and won't work properly or at all if you don't have Java installed on your system.

With Java, it is also a question of whether it is required locally. Programs may require Java and if you develop for Android, you too need Java installed on your system for that.

If you use Java only locally on the other hand, you can untie its browser connection, at least on Windows.

The benefits of running a plug-in less browser

So what are some of the benefits of running a browser that does not use plug-ins?

Security has already been mentioned before and it is the key point without doubt. If you don't run plug-ins, your browser and system are not vulnerable to attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in these products.

Stability may improve as well and as a sidekick to that battery live and page loading times. Since Flash ads are not shown anymore, page loading times may improve. A test in 2010 came to the result that a Macbook Air without Flash would save up to 33% battery live in day to day operations because of it.

If you visit Mozilla's Crash Reports site, you will notice that the top crasher of Firefox 36.0.1 is a plugin.

There is another benefit. Both Java and Flash ship with adware offers: Flash with an offer to install McAfee Security Scan, Java with the Ask Toolbar.

While experienced users have no troubles bypassing those options, for instance by unchecking them or downloading full offline installers (in the case of Java), it is likely that inexperienced users install these offers on their systems.

Test it yourself

disable plugins

If you don't know whether you need Java, Flash or another plug-in, then the best way to find out about it is to disable these plug-ins in your browser.

If a website requires it that you visit regularly, it will inform you in the browser. This way you know that you still need that plug-in, at least on that website.

Alternatively, you can set the plugin to "click to play" instead. This blocks it from loading right away when a website loads but gives you the option to enable it if demand is there.

Here is how you turn off plug-ins in your browser of choice:

  1. Chrome and most Chrome-based browsers: Type chrome://plugins and click on disable next to all plug-ins to disable them in the browser.
  2. Firefox, Pale Moon and other Mozilla-based browsers: Type about:addons, switch to plugins on the new page and change the state to never activate.
  3. Internet Explorer: Select settings > Manage add-ons and disable plug-ins under toolbars and extensions in the browser.
  4. Opera: Type opera://plugins/ and click on disable to turn off plug-ins in the browser.
  5. Vivaldi: Type vivaldi://plugins to disable plugins.

Closing Words

There is no definitive catch-all answer when it comes to the impact of turning off plug-ins in your web browser.

The majority of users may not not notice a difference in regards to compatibility while some users may run into sites that don't work properly anymore after disabling plug-ins.

Probably the best course of action right now is to test this on your system, preferably by switching to click to play as it offers all the benefits of disabling plug-ins and the fallback option to load plug-in contents when the need arises.

Now You: Are you still using plug-ins?

Living without plug-ins such as Flash or Java
Article Name
Living without plug-ins such as Flash or Java
If you'd turn off all plug-ins right now, what would it mean for your day to day browsing? Would you notice a difference?

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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