Ask LH: How Can I Stop Acrobat And Flash Updates?

Dear Lifehacker, I wanted to know if there was a way to stop all the annoying Acrobat Reader and Flash updates on Windows. It seems every day there is a new update! Thanks, Flash Forward

Dear Flash Forward,

If you are going to run Acrobat Reader, Flash (or indeed any other software), it’s always a good idea to make sure updates get installed, since they often fix security holes. Acrobat Reader in particular has proved to be a major vector for distributing malware, so you definitely don’t want an out-of-date copy of it floating around.

But there’s no denying that the updates to these Adobe products can be frequent, intrusive and slow to install. So the next logical question is: do you need a copy of that software at all?

In the case of Acrobat Reader, I’d argue that the answer is no. There are plenty of good alternative PDF readers which don’t suffer from the same bloat, malware and update nuisances. I’m a particular fan of Nitro PDF Reader, since it lets you edit and create PDFs as well as read them, and there are plenty of other alternatives to consider in our Hive Five of the best PDF tools. If you’re a user of Google Chrome, which has built-in PDF support, you may well find you don’t need any separate reader software at all.

Flash is a trickier beast. Despite the growing use of HTML5 to create interactive online applications, Flash remains a major player in this space, and many web sites and apps won’t work if you don’t have it installed. You’ll need to weigh up whether the update process is so annoying you’re prepared to potentially cripple your browsing experience. One option you can try is the Alternative Flash Auto-Updater, which makes the process less intrusive.


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