The Shockwave Flash Plugin Hates Your Browser and What to Do About That

Angry dude blasts his computer

I slipped from my bed in the darkness of the early morning hours and crept to my desk. After a momentary mouse-jiggling, my laptop bathed my face in the unnatural-but-familiar light of an LCD screen, and my fingers hovered over the keys as I tried to decide which of my internet haunts would host this insomnia-induced click bender. Finally deciding on YouTube, I quickly navigated there and selected a video. Google Chrome, always a touch slow to awaken, was taking just a little longer than usual to load, and I began to feel impatient.


"Come on, Chrome," I said, pitching my voice low so as not to disturb my wife. "Show me what you've got."


To which Chrome sweetly replied, "The following plugin has crashed: Shockwave Flash."


Grumbling, I reloaded the page. Shockwave Flash's antics aren't debilitating, but they are annoying, frequently interrupting a beautiful browsing experience without rhyme or reason. Being a strong proponent of the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle (sometimes referred to by the unenlightened as "lazy"), I was prepared to ignore the problem and move on. When Shockwave Flash crashed again a few minutes later, however, I decided I had had enough.


Don't judge me. It's not like YOUR browser hasn't had performance issues. My first search brought up pages of "Please, if there is a God, let my Firefox stop crashing" tutorials from tech sites, independent bloggers and even several from Mozilla themselves. Apparently Chrome crashes are common enough that the makers of Farmville host a short instructional on how to make it calm down. So, the bad news is that if, by some miracle, your browser hasn't Flash-ed you yet, chances are that it soon will. The good news is that the fixes are pretty easy.


Mozilla offers a full page of troubleshooting, most of which us some variation of "your Adobe's out of date." So, if you're a Mozilla user, try updating Adobe, and then if that doesn't work they've got other things you can try, too. If it's your Chrome that's going Benedict, you've almost definitely got multiple flash plugins, which is even simpler to solve. Just type chrome:plugins into your browser bar and scan the list for flash players. Chances are, you're either going to see some other player in there with Adobe Flash, or you're going to see "two files" in parenthesis next to the "Adobe Flash Player" plugin. Either way, the goal is to only have one running at a time, so disable one of those bad boys and restart.


This is the part where I point out that this is a certification site that writes about certification things. So, while your other browser's restarting, here are two certs that you can get now that your attention isn't consumed with crash flashing:


Adobe Flash CS6 certification

This certification covers the long and short of deploying flash content, including debugging. The exam is offered via Pearson VUE, costs $180, and requires a score of 67 percent or higher on 50 questions.


W3 Schools Certifications

A series of vendor-neutral certs offered by a respected source of learning, the W3 Schools Certifications range all over the web-development landscape. Exams cost $95 each and are taken online (though for credibility, the applicant should arrange supervision) and allow successful applicants to endorse their web pages with a W3 Schools badge.


So there you go. If you want to be one of the brave warriors who frantically fixes malfunctions by blogging bravely, there are certs for you. If, on the other hand, you simply want your browser to stop crashing so you can watch failblog videos at 2 a.m., well, there's no shame in that.


At least, I hope not.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
David Telford

David Telford is a short-attention-span renaissance man and university student. His current project is the card game MatchTags, which you can find on Facebook and Kickstarter.