Hello, Adobe Flash Player Background Updater (Windows)!

This week was another exciting week for Adobe’s Flash Player: We officially shipped Adobe Flash Player 11.2. One feature that I’m going to highlight today is one that I personally worked on: the Background Updater for Windows.

I wrote a fairly detailed DevNet article about the bits and pieces that make this updater work. It was also mentioned in Peleus Uhley’s blog post, highlighting the impact that this new updater can have on Flash Player Security.

Since the release, I have been scanning forums and reading blog posts about this feature, and I’d like to answer some of the questions that were mentioned there.

1. I’m very interested in the Background Updater, but I’m using Mac OS. When will Adobe release a Background Updater for Mac?

A Background Updater for Mac OS is currently in development and will be released in an upcoming release of Adobe Flash Player.

2. Will I ever get to see a Flash Player notification again that asks me to update Flash Player?

Yes. For new features and/or releases that require the acceptance of new terms of use, Adobe may need to notify users before an installation can be performed.

3. Why does the updater install the service and scheduled task even though I chose the option to disable updates during the installation?

If you chose to turn of all updates, the Background Updater will be turned off! If you are familiar with network analyzing tools, I encourage you to verify that there is no network traffic initiated by the Background Updater service. The scheduled task and the service are being installed in the event that you choose to enable the Background Updater at a later point. As mentioned in my DevNet article, you can do this by going to the Flash Player Settings Manager in the Windows Control Panel.

4. Yet another background updater? Isn’t that consuming a ton of resources?

I’m very happy to say: NO! By using the Windows Task Scheduler, we are able to run the Background Updater only once per hour for a few milliseconds. The Background Updater will usually launch, check if it is time to do an update check and then shut itself down. Only if an update is available will the updater stay running for a longer period of time to allow for the download to complete and the installation to start.

5. I have a third-party tool that tells me that the Background Updater is running every hour. This despite the fact that Adobe claims that after a successful update check, the next check will be deferred for 24 hours. Why?

The fact that the process starts every hour does not mean that it will perform an update check every hour. Rather, it will first check to see if it is time for the next update check. If it isn’t, it will shut itself down again after only a few milliseconds. If you are familiar with network analyzers, I encourage you to verify that there is no network traffic caused by the Background Updater in the 24 hours that the update check is deferred.

6. I have the Background Updater disabled, but the service still starts every hour. Why?

The Background Updater will launch every hour and will check if it is enabled. If it isn’t, no network traffic will ever be generated by the Background Updater and it will shut itself down after only a few milliseconds, saving valuable CPU and memory resources. This allows you to enable the Background Updater from the Flash Player Settings Manager in the Windows Control Panel at a later point without having to reinstall Flash Player.


If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them!