The Demise of Windows XPNovember 16, 2014
If you are a tech head, and have not been living under a rock for the last several months, you should know support for Windows XP ended a while back in the summer of 2014. Apparently, the lifecycle of Windows XP is akin to that of a medium to large-size dog—with one human year equal to about seven dog years. Windows XP is 12 years old, and while it was a good loyal companion during those years of service, it’s time to say goodbye.
But again, you already know this, so why am I still talking about Win XP? Because many people are still running it for home and business.It is estimated that of the roughly 1.5 billion PCs in the world, more than 25% still use Windows XP, or about 400,000,000 (yeah, that’s right four hundred million!) machines are still running on Windows XP. So, what can you do to reduce your exposure and protect your information? Probably the single biggest thing you can do is disconnect from the Internet. Yes, it will be hard to access your social accounts without the Internet, not to mention supporting your online shopping habits. Businesses may fare better in the short-term by assigning other duties for these systems—after disconnecting from the Internet. However, this is not practical for most users.
Simply put, Windows XP is not up to modern-day standards when it comes to security, which can leave your computer open to hackers and viruses. Of course, you haven’t been able to update your browser for a while and that’s got to be irritating too. Not to mention Java, flash players and a host of other software vendors have also ended support. The best way to protect your system is to upgrade to a modern operating system like Windows 7 or 8. Oh, and your hardware probably needs an upgrade as well to install your new operating system.
What you can do…
- If your hardware is not too old, try to upgrade your operating system to Windows 7 or 8. Microsoft has initiated a deal with Laplink to help move your software to the new operating system (http://www.laplink.com/pcmoverexpressxpeol ). However, reinstalling the software is a better practice rather than moving it and you may need to update your graphics card in the process too.
- Switch your profile and all uses to a limited account, which will also limit the impact of malware on your computer. A limited account will also shut the door on malware getting a hold of your administrator account and causing extreme havoc (and mayhem).
- Download a more secure browser like Chrome or Firefox and update your plug-ins, like flash, and remove any you don’t need or use.
- Remove Java completely
- Install the HTTP Everywhere extension for your browser to make browsing more secure. (https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere)
- Don’t go to sites that seem risky with free software and questionably legit downloads.
- Use the Add/Remove program utility to get rid of any unused software to reduce the number of potential access points to your information—less programs = less potential for attack.
- Most importantly, install an updated security anti-virus software program.
- Lastly, install a monitor program that will analyze websites and block the malicious variety. But keep in mind, the newer versions are not compatible with Windows XP because it’s unsupported.
So yes, you can continue to use Windows XP at the expense of a little lag, and that feeling of security you had when it was new. If all that sounds like a large pain, and you have a few bucks to spare, then what you really need is new hardware to run an updated operating system that supports an updated browser. There are too many stories in the news about hacking and identity theft to ever feel comfortable using an unsupported operating system.
And like that health class you were forced to take in high school, the old adage still holds true “The best protection is prevention”—replace that system! It’s less expensive than you might think and you get a whole lot more than when you bought your last computer.