Flash Ate My Mac

This morning, I’m recovering from a complete system freeze caused by updating Flash Player.

What is it with Adobe and Flash? I’m certain I’m not the only person whose Mac has crippling problems caused by Flash. For example:

  • Some Flash-based websites seem to gobble up most of my Mac’s processor cycles, causing applications to become unbearably slow and its fans to kick into high gear — and stay there until I find the culprit and close its browser window.
  • When updating Flash, my entire computer freezes up. The only solution is a hard restart, and all the document-recovery madness that goes along with that.

To address the Flash-on-a-website problem, I installed the free ClickToFlash for Safari and Flashblock for Firefox, which stops all Flash content from loading in my Web browser. When I really need to let Flash run on a page, I can click on the Flash item to let it load. Unfortunately, the Flash problems begin as soon as I click on a problematic Flash-based item, and there is no way to know which item will cause a problem.

To address the Flash-updater problem, I’ll just have to be sure I’ve closed all documents and quit all applications before beginning an update. This reality creates its own problems, since I’m much less likely to keep up to date with patches to Flash’s security holes.

This Flash problem is so extreme that I have a friend who maintains two computers: his production machine has no Flash installed, and he maintains a second computer just for those times when he really needs to see something in Flash format. I guess you could call that “the hidden cost of Flash”. ;-)