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What is Flash?
The modern web is difficult to imagine without some technologies, which deliver dynamic and colourful content to a user. More pictures, more rich navigation and more speed are what modern technologies, such as Adobe Flash Player, are about. This powerful technology may bring orgy of colour to users’ desktops using only web browser. I even saw Quake III game implemented in Flash and it was cool game! To be so powerful they need to get access to the resources of the computer: processor, video card and hard drive. The usage of the latter one lies in the scope of this article.
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What are “Flash Cookies?”
Software based on Flash needs your hard drive to store some information. It is not something new: the browser itself allows sites to store information, which helps web application to serve user. This information is named “cookie” and usually is used to store some session information, including user’s credentials, or data input by the user. It may be dangerous to leave this data on a hard drive, especially if you are using public computer in, say, internet café. Therefore, you need to be able to delete the data dumped to the hard drive by Adobe Flash Player. Moreover, you have such a possibility. However, if we are speaking about Flash there is something else to say about: there is not actually a cookie what is specific to Flash. Actually, browser, not program, creates cookies. Hereby you may delete them from a place specific for each browser. Say, if you use IE8 you may clear cookies by selecting Tools – Internet Options in the menu and clicking “Delete” button.
Tick “Cookies” and hit “Delete” and here you are. Is the procedure simple? Definitely it is. Is it enough? Regrettably, it is not. The fact is that Flash has its own place to store additional data, which is not controlled by the browser, unfortunately. As a consequence of such a design even browsing in so called “In-Private” (Internet Explorer) or “Private Browsing” (FireFox) or any other “secure” mode. In addition, this place may be large. I mean LARGE, so it may store enormous amounts of data about what you have been doing before keyboard. How can you delete it?
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How to remove Flash cache?
As always, it goes several ways:
1) You may delete it from your disk directly. However, it is always not a recommended solution: it’s not very easy to locate the folder and then to delete the files. (the folder is C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Macromedia\Flash Player\macromedia.com\support\flashplayer\sys on my Windows 7 computer, by the way) And I really hate this method because these cookies are not only the folders inside the folder stated above but also there are some entries about the content in the settings.sol file and even after deletion of the files itself you still will see the line without parameters about site which placed the data on your drive:
Therefore, I would say that using this method is the last resort; to be implemented when nothing else works.
2) You may use third party software to do it. For instance, FireFox has a plug-in to do the removal. It may be a good solution, but one never knows if the software to remove the cached content is good enough to not to inflict any damage. It may occur that this so-called “Flash Cookie Remover” or whatever just deletes the files. There may be no harm at all, or it may result in wrong application behaviour. Moreover, it may be different tool for different browsers and platforms, which may be not very convenient.
3) Thus, the only way I can recommend to delete the data cached by Adobe Flash to your local hard drive is to follow Adobe’s recommendations. What I would recommend is just to open the page with another Flash application named “Settings Manager”.
The link above will open the Settings Manager exactly on a tab related to the cached data storage. Here you can see which site and how much space uses on your storage device.
The application is executed on your computer and Adobe does not have any access to the data, so you may consider it quite a secure way of action. As you may see on the screenshot above Flash “Cookies” may take significant amount of space. Furthermore, one may configure the “limit” to be unlimited which may exhaust your drive space without any doubt. What we may do here is:
1) You may view what amount of space the Flash data reserve now.
2) It is possible, also, to manage the amount of space to be used by any particular site or the total number of bytes allowed to be cached by Flash add-on. You may even set it to “None” to get rid of Flash cookies at all.
3) In addition, of course, you may delete the content already cached. You may do it for one particular site or for all at once. For the first option you have to select the site whose data you are to delete and then press “Delete Website” button. For the second, plainly, just hit “Delete All Sites”.
It is easy enough, so enjoy configuring and deleting Flash data storage if you want.