Tech-Friendly: Do I need Java on my computer?

WEB_Paul-Gorski-2014By Paul Gorski

Do I need Java on my computer? Most likely not.

Java is a programming language that is used to develop programs that run on Windows, Mac and Linux computers or may be integrated into websites. From java.com: “Java allows you to play online games, chat with people around the world, calculate your mortgage interest, and view images in 3D, just to name a few. It’s also integral to the intranet applications and other e-business solutions that are the foundation of corporate computing.”

That said, Java can be a security threat, and if you do not need Java, do not install it on your personal computer. If Java is not installed and you come across a website or program that requires it, you will be prompted to install it at that time. I suggest that you only install Java from the official website. When installing Java, set it to automatically update. Since Java runs on PCs and Macs, hackers can write Java programs that can infect most every computer surfing the Internet today.  Keeping Java current and patched is critical to computer security.

Visit java.com/en/download/installed.jsp if you want to know whether or not Java is installed on your computer. If it is installed, do not uninstall it, just keep it updated. The same testing site will you let you know if you need to update Java.

If you are a corporate decision maker and your IT consultant recommends a Java-based server solution, do not be overly concerned. Java is extremely popular, and relatively safe, when deployed on servers. I believe it is still the most popular programming language. My security concerns relate only to the installation of Java on desktop computers.

Again, if you need Java installed, install it from java.com and keep it updated.

Please note there is a similarly-named browser technology: Javascript. Javascript is not related to Java and you most likely do need Javascript enabled.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

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