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Flash Player Update Service doesn't run on a reliable schedule, and doesn't automatically download and apply updates when it does run.

Given the importance of having an up-to-date version of Flash Player installed (for those of us who don't use Chrome with its built-in player), I would like to find a way to ensure that new updates are promptly detected and installed.

What follows are the details of my efforts to solve this problem on my own...

Appendix A: Flash Player Update Service

OK, way back in Flash Player 11.2 (or so?) Adobe added the Flash Player Update Service (FlashPlayerUpdateService.exe), it was supposed to keep the Flash Player updated...

  • Upon installation, FPUS is configured to run as a Windows Service, with Start Type set to Manual.

  • A Scheduled Task (Adobe Flash Player Updater.job) is added to start this service every hour.

So far, so good - this set-up avoids having a constantly-running service, but makes sure that the checks are run often enough to catch any updates quickly. Google's software updater is configured in a similar fashion, and that works just fine...

...And yet, when I checked the version of my installed Flash Player, I found it was 11.6.602.180, which, based on looking at the timestamps of the files in C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash was last updated (or installed) on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 --- 3/12/13, 5:00:08pm.

I made this observation on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 --- 4/25/13, 7:00:00pm, and upon checking Adobe's website found that the current version of Flash Player was 11.7.700.169.

That's over a month since the last update, with a new one clearly available on the website but with no indication that the hourly check running on my machine has noticed it or has any intention of downloading it.

Appendix B: running the Flash Player updater manually

Once upon a time, running FlashUtil32_<version>_Plugin.exe -update plugin would give you a window with an Install button; pressing it would download the installer for the current version (automatically, without opening a browser) and run it, then you'd click thru that installer & be done. It was manual, but it worked! Finding my current installation out of date (see Appendix A), I first tried this manual update process. However...

  • Running FlashUtil32_<version>_ActiveX.exe -update activex (in my case, that's FlashUtil32_11_6_602_180_ActiveX.exe -update activex) ...only presents a window with a Download button, clicking that Download button opens my browser to the URL https://get3.adobe.com/flashplayer/update/activex.

  • Running FlashUtil32_<version>_Plugin.exe -update plugin (in my case, that's FlashUtil32_11_6_602_180_Plugin.exe -update plugin) ...only presents a window with a Download button, clicking that Download button opens my browser to the URL https://get3.adobe.com/flashplayer/update/plugin.

I could continue with the Download page it sent me to, uncheck the foistware box ("Free! McAfee Security Scan Plus"), download that installer (ActiveX, no foistware: install_flashplayer11x32axau_mssd_aih.exe, Plugin, no foistware: install_flashplayer11x32au_mssd_aih.exe) & probably have an updated Flash...but then, what is the point of the Flash Player Update Service if I have to manually download & run another exe?


I've since come to suspect that the update service is intentionally hobbled to drive early adopters to the manual download page. If this is true, there's probably no solution to this short of writing my own updater; hopefully I am wrong.

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1 Answer 1

Perhaps the updater only applies updates in the 11.6.x range?

You could always use direct links to the installers, which I find to be more reliable: ActiveX; Plugin.

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Your first sentence makes no sense whatsoever. What would be the point of an auto-update if you need to manually update every time a major version is released? I agree with your second sentence however. I disable the auto-update service completely and manually update both ActiveX and Plugin versions on a regular schedule. –  Karan Apr 26 '13 at 15:47
Thx so much for those links, specifically the "Plugin" link (note: both links download the same binary), that's part of what I wanted. I can't award you "the answer" since it only applies to the "which URL should I use to download the current version, without any chance of foistware?" part. But with that URL, I will be writing my own REAL Flash Player Auto-Updater...& if SuperUser lets me, I'll post a link to that here when it's ready -- tho possibly in the question, if this remains closed & I can't answer it. According to Adobe, they deliberately DELAY the FPUS update for 30 days! –  user219950 Apr 27 '13 at 19:19

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