Do You Really Need to Have Java Installed?

As you may know, there have been more concerns over Java plug-in vulnerabilities recently. A patch to bring Java to Version 7 Update 7 has been released, but do we really need Java anymore? I’ve had Java installed for years now and blithely keep updating it without even thinking if it’s really necessary.

Disable Java Plug-ins

Most websites use Flash these days but you may need to have the Java browser plug-in enabled for some sites, for example, some web-based games and online calculators. I tried disabling the Java plug-in a few weeks ago and haven’t had any problems on the websites I tend to visit. You can actually check whether your browser is running Java at this Java test page. If it’s running and you want to disable it, it’s very simple in Chrome. Just enter chrome://plugins in the browser’s address bar, scroll down to Java and click to disable it. There are instructions for disabling Java in IE and Firefox here. Then just make sure it’s disabled by visiting the Java test page mentioned earlier.

What Programs Need Java?

Many programs do need to have Java installed to run but some bloggers advocate removing Java completely as many home users just don’t need it. OpenOffice and LibreOffice may need it for some functionality but I understand that the features that most people usually require don’t need Java. Secunia Online Scanner was suggested as needing Java to run its scans but as far as I can see, the latest desktop version (Secunia PSI 3.0) doesn’t need Java to be installed. Some other programs that need Java are the Woopra Desktop Client, MatLab, Vuze, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, and the program that forced me to reinstall Java, JStock, a neat free program for monitoring the latest prices of your stocks and shares. If you need to have Java installed, make sure it’s always up to date and remove old versions. But if you’d like to try disabling Java to see just what programs you run actually need it, in Windows, go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Java Control Panel and go to the Advanced tab to disable Java.

So, really the best advice is to disable the Java plug-in in your browser and, if possible, disable or uninstall Java as well.  If you use a program or visit a site that requires Java, your system or the site should prompt you that you need to install or re-enable it.  And if you come across any errors uninstalling Java or old versions, try Microsoft FixIt. I blogged about using FixIt to successfully remove a stubborn old version of Java recently.

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