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It's time to update Adobe Flash and Microsoft Windows!

December 11, 2012

On Patch Tuesday, December 11, 2012, Adobe and Microsoft released critical updates to some of their software. Adobe Flash has been updated to version 11.5.502.135, fixing a critical vulnerability and Microsoft released 8 critical or important updates. You are strongly advised to update your Windows computers now to protect against exploit kits targeting the patched vulnerabilities.

Windows Updates almost always require a reboot to complete the installing of new system files. This is because such files are in use when the operating system is running and can only be replaced when it is shut down temporarily.

I found out that sometimes Adobe Flash acts the same way as Windows Updates, in not letting go while Windows is running. On my Windows 7 computer, I found it necessary to reboot after upgrading Flash today. This was after I logged into my Administrator level account to run these updates. After the Windows Updates completed and I had rebooted, I upgraded to the new version of Adobe Flash. The "About Flash" results page showed the new version was installed. So, I logged out of the Admin account and into my Standard User account.

But, when I opened Firefox, something caused it to hang repeatedly, making the browser unusable. I Grokked that since the browser was fine when I went to fetch the new version of Flash, but was unstable after upgrading it, the old version must still be lingering, either in the Registry, or as an active file in use. So, I force-closed the browser and rebooted. After logging in again, the problem was fixed. Files in use people...

There is another way to update Flash without rebooting, which I applied to my XP computer, on a hunch. I simply uninstalled Adobe Flash with my browsers closed. This is done via Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs. Once Flash was uninstalled, I opened Firefox, went to Adobe.com and downloaded a new copy of Flash Player. When the download completed, I opened the download location, closed the browser, then ran the Flash installer. After the installation completed I opened my browser and everything worked normally. So, you can use this method to flush out an old version of a browser plug-in, rather than rebooting.

By the way, Adobe provides a Flash uninstaller, as a stand alone Windows executable that you can run from your downloads folder. It gets rid of both the Firefox and Internet Exploder versions of Flash at the same time.

UPDATE:
December 13, 2012

I neglected to mention in my original article that Adobe also publishes an updated version of Adobe AIR when Flash is updated. AIR is an online collaboration interface where documents, like .pdfs can be composed, edited and shared. You should check your list of installed software to see if you already have Adobe AIR and if so, go to the Adobe AIR download page and get the latest version, which patches any vulnerabilities found in that software.

Furthermore, Google Chrome was updated to include its own custom version of Flash. If you use the Chrome browser, open it while you're online and go to the settings icon on the upper right corner, then select About Google Chrome from the options list. If the browser hasn't already been updated automatically, it will begin downloading the new version in the About Chrome info box. When the new version is downloaded it will install over the previous version and ask you to close the browser. This completes the upgrade. Chrome will reopen in a minute or so, as the new, patched version. Other vulnerabilities may have been patched as well during the Flash update process.

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Wiz FeinbergWiz's Blog is written by Bob "Wiz" Feinberg, an experienced freelance computer consultant, troubleshooter and webmaster. Wiz's specialty is in computer and website security and combating spam. Wizcrafts Computer Services was established in 1996.

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