Windows XP support ends today

Bill Gates in Times Square announcing Windows XP in 2001

Bill Gates in Times Square announcing Windows XP in 2001 – AP owned photo All Rights Reserved

This is old news, but as a reminder and hopefully some help to you if you’re still running a computer with Microsoft Windows XP. There’s reported to be over a billion users of this Operating System still in existence. Some are caught in the continuation of using it because their specialized programs were tied to it. The first that comes to mind are the thousands of ATM cash dispensing stations still using it. Those financial institutions have their own time-line in process to work out a resolution. I hope they change soon because their millions of users are at greater risk while the banks and other dispensing locations continue with using XP.

I believe this post is for the individual user and private business owners to read.

Why do I need to change?change now

When Microsoft ends their support for this product, all security updates will cease to be available. Even if you’re using an anti-virus / anti-malware program along with a firewall, the Operating System is still your foundation. Once support goes away, new or even existing exploits will find a vulnerability and either your computer will become an open door to a person interested in collecting your private information, such as family pictures, bank account logins, tax information or use your computer as an invisible platform (to you) to launch exploits into other computers. No matter what you do, your computer will become inoperable over time. Along with it, your information can become corrupted. Your computer won’t stop working today or tomorrow because of this, so there’s no need to panic, just make a plan.

How can I make the change?

computer backup symbolAs I recently posted on this topic, you have several options. One of the easy options is to go out and buy a new computer with Microsoft Windows 7 or 8 on it, now. You may also purchase new Windows 7 or 8 software. Thirdly, you can change to what I consider a better alternative Operating System. I will discuss this option further.

No matter what you’re decision, you need to back up your important files – documents – pictures and find your  original programs which are critical to you. This means if you purchased and use applications like Microsoft Office, Quicken, Goldmine, Oracle, accounting or business software of any kind, purchased games, etc. you need them to install on this new computer.

Where do I go from here?

start buttonMake the decision to change your XP system software this week. Don’t put it off. Either begin or continue to back up all of your data, including documents, pictures, financial institution/ investment data to another hard drive, cloud storage or flash drive. Cloud backup services I use are Box•net and Dropbox. There are many others and any of them are fine. Just be sure you have enough room in whatever choice you make to copy all of your data. This needs to be done anyway, because some day your disk drive and or computer will fail. You don’t want to lose things that are important.

If you take the route to buy a new computer, you still need your original purchased programs and you need a backup to restore your saved data. You may also consider purchase of an Apple computer. Apple is an excellent choice for a computer. If you already own one and wish to run Microsoft Windows on it (don’t recommend this unless you’re required), go here for Apple support. If any of this is baffling or the process too intimidating don’t hesitate to call a data professional to assist you. I routinely do this for clients and there are many skilled technical people who may assist you. Please don’t expect this service for free. For some reason people will take advantage of friends or family for computer support. They don’t seem to think this is OK for legal, dental or even trash collection, but all of us in this business have been asked to help for little or no remuneration.

If you’re inclined to purchase a new Windows Operating System, please go here first to see if your computer is compatible. I recommend Windows 7 for the user wanting the easiest path to use your computer as you’re accustomed. Windows 8 will be supported for longer and may be a good choice, especially for a business that doesn’t like frequent change, however the learning curve to use it is steeper. Go here to check your computer for Windows 8 compatibility.

Here’s my suggested alternative to using Windows. I’m not a developer or make anything from its promotion. You can use Zorin (Linux alternative) instead of Microsoft Windows. Read a review by clicking this link.  Please watch the video to find out more from a professional.