Windows XP vulnerable to Internet threats from 8th April 2014
Windows, whether it is XP, Vista, & or 8, is what is known as an operating system. It is the layer of software on a PC that has to be installed before you can do or add anything else.
To check which version of Windows you have see: What version of Windows is on your PC?
Microsoft are ceasing support for Windows XP on 8th April 2014, this effectively means that using an XP system connected to the Internet will leave it exposed to un-resolved new security threats. In fact as Microsoft fix new security threats for the newer Windows systems the bad guys will now be trawling thew Internet to see if they apply to the un-fixed and exposed XP systems that they can find. Here is what Microsoft say about it: End support.
Here are some solutions to mitigate or avoid this threat.
1) Upgrade your current PC to Windows 8.1 (the currently available version of Windows):
Microsoft provide an “Upgrade Assistant” which checks to see if your PC is compatible with Windows 8 and checks whether any of your current programs and applications would need upgrading. I’ve uploaded a copy of the Upgrade Assistant here: Upgrade Assistant. You can download and the run it. It will check your PC’s hardware configuration and also check your installed application and programs for compatibility. If it thinks yor PC is compatible it then goes on to give the option to buy and download Windows 8.1 – you can quit at this point before committing yourself. Here is Microsoft’s Windows 8 compatibility check-list.
2) Upgrade your current PC to Windows 7:
Windows 7 is not officially available anymore, but can be found on eBay etc. It is more similar in appearance and use to XP than Windows 8.1. You should be careful when buying copies of Wondows 7 installation DVDs – not all of them are legtimate and some, although original, may not be licensed for youn particular PC. You should check that the DVD comes with a genuine product key and Certificate of Authenticity (COA). When installed you will be required to go through an on-line authentication check, or to do it by phone if you are not connected to the Internet. Here is Microsoft’s Windows 7 compatibility check-list.
3) Buy a new replacement Windows 8 PC:
A lot of retailers will be aware of the need to upgrade rom XP and will be offering deals and help to do it. There is a Microsoft sponsored Internet utility to transfer personal data and file from an old Windows PC to the new one – here is a link: free version of PCmover Express. But be aware that this does not copy programs or applications, these will need to be re-installed and some older ones may not be compatible with Windows 8, so they will need to be upgraded or replaced. You can use the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check which programs and applications are compatible.
4) Buy a replacement refurbished Windows 7 PC:
There are some good deals to be found for genuine refurbished PCs, which include Windows 7 pre-installed. But beware that some of those on eBay and even Amazon might not be properly licensed. It is best to stick to sellers who are either a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher (usually a small business) or a Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher (usually a larger business with a choice of stock).
We have re-seller agrements with two well established Microsoft Authorised Refurbishers and can usually find a suitable PC or laptop from their extensive stocks, so please ask us to see if they have one to suit your needs. You might be able to save by re-using your screen, keyboard and mouse – prices for just the desktop PC can start from below £100.
I can help you choose a suitable one and help move your files, settings and data across.
You could even buy an inexpensive external hard drive enclosure to be able to use you existing PC’s disk drive for backup and/or extra storage.
5) Upgrade your current PC to an open source alternative, such as Ubuntu:
The open source community, a world-wide community of volunteers and professionals, provide may alternative operating systems. These can be used instead of Windows, some are more similar to Windows than others – Ubuntu is a popular replacement for Windows.
Ubuntu is free to download and try. It is more likely to run successfully on older PCs, is much less susceptible to Internet threats than Windows XP and is actively maintained by the open source community. There is more information here: Start Ubuntu. For older or less powerful PCs there is a slimmed down more efficient version called Lubuntu.
6) Keep you XP installation but make it more secure:
Whilst Microsoft will shortly stop issuing security updates for Windows XP and its own Security Essential for XP, there are a number of free/inexpensive third-party solutions to bolster the Internet security of an XP PC. While this is not likely to be as good as a well secured Windows 8 installation, it could still be adequate if the Internet is used cautiously or, better still, you completely disconnect your PC from the Internet.
I’ve written an on-line article which talks about some of the Internet security products available, here: Internet security for your Windows PC.
Unlike the other options this one lets you keep your existing files, settings and data – but it really is only a last resort.
All but the last option require that your existing files,settings and data are saved to an external disk drive or memory stick before installing the new operating system. Then your saved files, settings and data need to be copied back after the new operating system has been installed. I have access to utilities that help to do that.