While most browser makers plan to drop support for Java, Flash and other plugins such as Silverlight or Quicktime, or have stopped supporting these technologies already, there are still a lot of sites and services out there that can only be accessed if certain plugins are installed in the browser.
If you take Google Chrome for instance you will quickly notice that it supports Flash thanks to a native integration of the technology but no other plugin. This means that Chrome users cannot access content on the Internet that require Silverlight, Java or other plugins.
Microsoft created Edge in Windows 10 without support for these plugins as well, and it too supports only Flash thanks to a native integration but not other plugin.
Mozilla Firefox on the other hand supports plugins but Mozilla plans to drop support eventually (in 2017 likely).
You are probably wondering why browser makes drop support for these plugins considering that some services and sites still require them. The answer is because it is beneficial to security and stability of the browser.
If you check the crash stats of Firefox 45.0.2 that Mozilla collected over the course of seven days, you will notice that four of the top ten crashes are attributed to plugins (positions 2,4,5 and 9).
Internet users, at least those on desktop machines, face two issues:
While you can simply run a browser that supports plugins and be done with it, I suggest you use a secondary browser for that instead.
This is also the only option if your main browser does not support plugins anymore.
Additionally, separating plugin content from everything else deals with the first issue mentioned above if your main browser supports plugins.
Since you only use it to connect to sites requiring plugins, say a video streaming site or online banking site, your main browser won't suffer from stability issues nor run into the risk of falling victim to attacks targeting plugins.
Update: Please note that plugins are on their way out in the Firefox web browser as well. You may use a browser like Pale Moon in that case, as it continues to support NPAPI plugins. END
This leaves Mozilla Firefox (or a Firefox-based browser) or Internet Explorer, and while both should work fine, I'd suggest you select Firefox for that as you can install a second copy of the browser easily, or use another profile instead exclusively for plugin related content.
My suggestion would be Firefox ESR, an extended support release of the browser. The reason for the suggestion is that ESR is regularly updated with security updates and bug fixes, but only every eight release cycle with major feature updates.
This should give you even more time in regards to plugin support than regular versions of the browser. Also, you don't have to deal with changes made to the browser whenever new versions are released.
Alternatively, you may also download a portable version of Firefox to run it completely independent of any installed copies of the browser.
Download and install Firefox ESR from the official website. Make sure you download and use the 32-bit version as many plugins are not available as 64-bit versions.
If your main browser is not Firefox, skip the following step.
You cannot run Firefox ESR if another copy of Firefox is already running. To get around this, do the following:
Now that Firefox has been set up, it is time to install plugins on the system.
Plugin download links
Below is a selection of download links for popular plugins:
Installation and configuration
Install the plugins on the system that you require. Once done, it may be necessary to block these plugins in other browsers so that they are only enabled when you run your Firefox ESR version.
If you are using another Firefox version, load about:addons in the browser, switch to plugins, and set all plugins you find on the page to "never activate".
In Internet Explorer, tap on the Alt-key, and select Tools > Manage Add-ons. Locate any plugin installed and set it to disabled on the page to make sure it is not used.
I suggest you do so even if you are not using a browser at all.
All that is left now is to make sure you use the plugin supporting browser whenever you need to access content on the Internet that requires plugins, and another browser for the remaining activity.
Now You: Do you still require plugins?
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
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.