Java is one of those things that most if not all of you have installed in Windows. It is something that’s a necessary "evil" of sorts to run certain things. Certain web sites need it to launch Java applications or you may require it for a locally installed program (such as OpenOffice).
Everything Java does can be controlled via the Java Control Panel.
In Windows XP, the Java Control panel is located in the Windows Control Panel itself. You’ll see the Java icon there:
Note that in XP you must be viewing the Control Panel in "Classic View" in order to see the Java icon.
In Windows Vista and 7 the easiest way to get to the Java Control Panel is to launch the Windows Control Panel and search for the term Java:
When the Java Control Panel loads, click the Settings button on the General tab. This is located at bottom right:
The Temporary Files Settings window will pop up:
If you don’t use Java that often, I recommend unchecking Keep temporary files on my computer. This will keep Windows from being clogged up with tons of Java application data, which can happen all too easily. As you can see from above, Java keeps its own cache directory for its own applications. You can save yourself the headache of clearing this out by having Java not save temporary files in the first place.
Again, this is only if you don’t use Java that often. If you do use it with a fair amount of freqency, Java will have to reload everything each time it starts. If not, leave the box above unchecked.
When done, click OK.
On the Update tab…
…you’ll notice that Java by default is only set to check for an update once a month by default. This is why Java seemingly seems to update itself "out of nowhere". You may want to change this to once a week. This is done via the Advanced button seen above.
On the Advanced tab…
…the only two sections most people would be concerned with are the JRE (Java Runtime Environment) Auto-Download and the Miscellaneous category.
Instead of having JRE auto-download, you may feel more comfortable if Java tells you it’s going to download something before it actually does it. In that instance, clicking Prompt user is what you want.
Under Miscellaneous, if the Java icon that appears in the system tray annoys you when it shows up, you can turn that off easily by unchecking Place Java icon in system tray.
Why does Java have to be such an island unto itself?
Many people believe that Java is a browser-only thing. It’s not.
Java is a complete programming language that has its own engine which is why it so separated in the first place. Being that entire programs can be programmed in Java, that’s why it has its own cache, its own security settings and so on.
Once you know your way around the Java Control Panel, setting it to your liking is a relatively easy task.
Does Java tick you off when it comes to your web browser?
For a lot of people it does. Feel free to sound off if Java bugs you.