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Unfortunately a game bundled Adobe Flash in its installer, thus it clawed its way onto my PC. I haven't been using Windows for a while (Used it for a long time but took a hiatus with another OS) so I am not up to date on this front.

I'd like to think that Adobe Flash Player can be uninstalled using the 'Programs and Features' pane in Control Panel (Windows Vista Business 64 bit) but it might leave some residue files or other vector points.

I'm mainly concerned about the security problems of Flash and would like to know what is the best way to fully purge it from my system.

Thanks in advance.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you've uninstalled Flash via appwiz.cpl, then your browsers should not be using it anymore regardless of what "remnants" there might be. Some scanners may flag those remnant files as being security vulnerabilities, but they would have to be explicitly called upon by you or some program acting on your behalf in order to pose any risk.

If your tin foil hat is still firmly affixed, and you really want to be absolutely sure Flash is removed, I suggest the following:

  • Download and run Adobe's Flash Uninstaller from their website. This is often suggested for when old versions of flash are not removed during an update or embedded versions don't show up in appwiz.cpl.
  • Run a vulnerability scanner / software version checker on your system. Programs like Secunia's PSI will often find old versions that are left behind. (This often also picks up old versions of Chrome when the updater hasn't cleaned up after itself yet.) You will probably have to manually track down and delete any findings.
  • Run a registry cleaner to clear out any keys left behind. I personally prefer the one that comes in Spybot S&D. CCleaner is also good. Just be careful what you clean with these, and back up your registry before making any changes.
  • Install NoScript or a similar plugin for your favorite browser. This will prevent Flash (or any other plugin) from running even if it is installed, unless you've approved it.
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Running Adobe's separate uninstaller should purge all potentially dangerous plugin files in standard locations. There could however be some situations where plugin files are located in unusual locations but still detected in your browser.

To find out if there is some unwanted plugin left in your browser, you could open about:plugins (in virtually all browsers but Internet Explorer) and look for a plugin named Shockwave Flash. Take the opportunity to also check if you really need other plugins that might be there. Otherwise also uninstall/disable them.

For Internet Explorer go to Tools->Manage Add-ons. Details depend on the version of Internet Explorer.

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