Junk your Java

You should junk your Java!

I’m not suggesting you stop drinking coffee – I would never deprive anyone of that life giving nectar! Heck, It’s a known fact that 95% of the tech world runs on Coffee (the other 5% substitutes alternate caffeinated beverages).

I need coffee!
What I am suggesting is that you delete, remove, and abandon Java on your computer!

Why? Well, Java isn’t needed on most computers – the odds that a user in a home environment will require Java are slim – but the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) somehow finds its’ way onto a majority of home computers. That’s not necessarily bad, but Java is “known” for a couple of traits: Poor housekeeping and security vulnerabilities.

Before I go on let me clear up some misconceptions about what Java is and is not.

Wikipedia describes Java as:

Java is a programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle Corporation) and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems’ Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities. Java applications are typically compiled to bytecode (class file) that can run on any Java Virtual Machine (JVM) regardless of computer architecture. Java is a general-purpose, concurrent, class-based, object-oriented language that is specifically designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is intended to let application developers “write once, run anywhere.” Java is currently one of the most popular programming languages in use, particularly for client-server web applications.

Let’s break that down a bit…

  • Java is a programming language
  • Java was developed by Sun, but is now owned by Oracle
  • Java runs in a virtual machine using software called the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) – this is the software you will find on your computer
  • Java programs are intended to run on multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, OSX, etc) which saves time during development

Java is often confused with JavaScript, but their implementation and uses are completely different. JavaScript is a programming language used in web development to provide advanced functionality on websites, PDF documents, etc. Java is used to write programs that are multi-platform. JavaScript is handled by your browser. Java requires a separate download. This article is about Java.

Java isn’t needed in most cases

Java programs are mostly in use at businesses. There are very few actual programs written in Java for the home user and if you do have one I would highly suggest that you find an alternative. The reason behind the use of Java based programs in business is the “write once, run many” model of Java. The business pays once for the author to write the software and has the ability to run the software on multiple platforms by simply installing the Runtime Environment. In most other instances a program would have to be specifically written for each platform. Just as at home a Windows programs will not natively run on Apple’s OSX nor will a Windows program run natively on Linux. As you can see it is purely a financial decision for most businesses.

Java doesn’t cleanup after itself

As Java has progressed through its’ various versions users would download and install updates and later notice they had 4,5, or more versions of Java on their machine. The reasoning behind this is that often software written for earlier Java versions wouldn’t function correctly leaving businesses with important programs that wouldn’t run. Good for business, but not so good for security as many of the updates were patches for security holes and leaving the old version installed also means the older version could be ran which would again expose the vulnerabilities in that version.

There’s a big hole in that coffee cup!

Java’s Runtime Environment doesn’t have a reputation as the most secure software. In the past each version has had security updates in the dozens and, in general, each update addresses multiple (sometimes numbering in the 20’s) security vulnerabilities. Add this to the fact that Java doesn’t have a history of patching security holes in the most timely manner and you can see that Java is an accident waiting to happen.

Not a rosy picture, but most attacks have been limited in their scope. An attacker can send compromised documents, or executables to only so many targets. Or can they?

Security researcher Brian Krebs has discovered evidence that exploits targeting Java are being folded into “Exploit Kits”, software often sold on the black market with the sole purpose of “infecting” computers with malware and remote control software. Not good.

Junk your Java!

For most users Java serves no useful purpose – I highly recommend you uninstall all versions of Java from your computer. If, by some small chance, a program doesn’t work after you do uninstall Java look for replacement software that doesn’t require Java to run. If all else fails uninstall Java and download the latest version from the Java website. After each subsequent update be sure to check that previous versions were uninstalled. If not, do so manually from the Control Panel.

To find out if you have Java installed you can visit the Verify Java Version page.

18 thoughts on “You should junk your Java!”

  1. I checked and have the latest version. I’m aware there are problems with the cleanup of older versions (must be done manually), and yes I have use some programs that require Java to be present. Your warning is appreciated, Mindblower!

  2. ‘Bout time somebody set the record straight on that garbage! Don’t forget to use JavaRa to clean up if you are a user or plan to uninstall.Take note JavaRa has the option to uninstall itself after the clean-up. Cheers!

  3. But I can’t play Minecraft without Java 🙁

    Anyways, there is a tool called JavaRA that removes all versions of Java except for the latest of your computer. It’s very useful and it gives back a fair bit of disc space

  4. I always thought that they now made the versions to clean up after them self’s, sure I read that somewhere but thanks for the heads up anyway.

  5. Java is little useful in pc but is very useful in mobile with android 🙂

  6. Great article! I am one who didn’t notice the differences or significance of JRE, Java, and javascript.. I will be deleting it asap.

  7. Not so fast! Without JRE I wouldn’t be able to operate my home automation software, my Panasonic webcams or my ReplayTV control program. None of these are business applications. Before deleting JRE be sure that you’re not running something that needs it. Don’t assume that just because you’re in a home environment you don’t need it. Like it or not I have 3 indespensible applications that need it.

  8. Unfortunately, there are some things that require Java. For example, to do a home check deposit from one my banks, I have to run their Java app. And I have other things that require Java.

  9. The Java versions from 24 on up do clean up the older version being replaced. The versions before that required manual removal.

    There is OpenOffice products that are as good as the $$ for MS Office but do not cost you anything than a little slower installation and Java. Camera control and many more banking applications require it also.

  10. most of the webcams that i look at use java to operate. I couldn’t do without it.

  11. Richard Grieves

    I play a lot of games on pogo and if I took Java off I do not thonk there would be many still working?

  12. I see Java as a large elephant t and takes up too much room on my hard drive … I deleted it and I am much happier since. I don’t use any gadgets that require Java. Thanks Dave, because I read the article when you posted it previously … I still get notices to update Java – but I just ignore them…
    Thanks again Dave for all you do …

  13. Anthony Bensley

    A single version of Java Updater was all it took to majorly slow down my Windows 8 Start-Up. It had got to the point that I would literally sometimes have to restart my PC after an especially bogged down Start-Up (Often after having already waited several minutes!). I was also getting a ton of Java Update Popups.

    I’d say that unless Java is required for a vital program that has no alternatives, don’t have it on your Computer, period! For those whom Java proves to be a must have program, just be prepared to experience some headaches along with it!


    A hole in Java’s Coffee Cup? I’d say it’s more like Swiss Cheese!

  14. I used the link to verify which version of Java I had and it was Version 7 update 55. And according to How-to Geek, newer versions of Java clean up older versions properly and I do not appear to have any older versions installed. Therefore I find the statement that Java doesn’t clean up after itself unnecessarily alarmist if it is not qualified by stating the first version that does clean up after itself.

  15. I have experience of business applications being written in Java instead of a native language even though the target O/S has been unchanged for nearly 20 years and will be the same for at least the next 8 years because:
    a) Customers demand it because there is a myth that it’s easier and quicker to write good code in Java instead of say C/C++ (regardless of the nature of the program)
    b) Graduates for the past few years have only ever used Java and don’t know any other languages esp. frightening C/C++. (Ditto off-shore development companies.)
    c) Even experienced developers who know many other languages feel the need to have Java on their CV in case they need a new job some time!

    The occasional bit of C that has to be developed by one of the old timers for, say real time hardware control, really scares everyone else in the office and triggers a major debate about whether it really has to be C instead of Java.

    I’ve heard it suggested by someone who doesn’t know C/C++ at all that it’s a well known fact that ALL C programs have memory leaks and null pointer exceptions.

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