As of April 8th, 2014 Microsoft is no longer supporting
Windows XP. This means Microsoft will not provide
security patches/updates nor update their free antivirus
program Security Essentials. I personally think this
will have a more devastating affect than the over-hyped
Y2K. Think of all the ATM's, municipalities, water
treatment plants etc still using XP. When I visited the
Jet Propulsion Lab and toured the Mars Rover facility, I
noticed they even had XP computers. What happens when
hackers find ways into these systems? I guess if my ATM
gives me $3000 instead of $300 and they take it from
someone else's account I'd be ok with that! But when
some brainiac from the other side of the world decides
to hack my local water district and starts mixing
reclaimed water with purified water we're all in for
If you're stuck with one or more XP computers at home or
the office, here are some steps you can take until
you're able to replace your computers.
1) Stop using Internet Explorer.
Instead, use Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox.
Internet Explorer is now on version 11 but XP was only
able to update to version 8. Using Chrome or Firefox
will provide a much safer browsing experience and you'll
likely have better compatibility with today's web sites.
Chrome is my preferred browser. You might be surprised
how much faster the Internet will run!
2) If you have Microsoft
Security essentials anti virus, uninstall the program (Control
Panel / Add Remove Programs). Microsoft has stopped
providing virus updates which really puts your computer
at risk! Install the free version of Avast anti virus.
3) Install Malwarebytes.
Download the free version of
and scan your computer for spyware/malware. This is
advisable with any version of Windows. No anti-virus can
get rid of everything, so run a Malwarebytes scan a few
times a month.
4) Buy a Mac! If
you're in the market for a new computer, I recommend a
Mac. In my 20 years of technology consulting I've only
had to fix three virus infections on a Mac whereas I fix
two or more viruses a day with Windows! Mac's are more
expensive. However, it's quite realistic that you can
own a Mac for five years and it will run as fast then as
it does now with very little maintenance. Money well
5) If you're on a budget or
have programs that require Windows, get a Windows 7
computer and not Windows 8. I could rant for
an hour straight on how terrible and unintuitive Windows
8 is, but let me save you the painful experience and
simply suggest avoiding Windows 8 altogether. Windows 8
is so hard to use that many people don't even know how
to turn the computer off. They hold down the power
button or pull the power cord (no joke).
Local big-box retailers are not allowed to sell Windows
7, so you'll need to order one from Dell or MicroCenter
(see links below).
6) Backup Backup Backup!!!!
The easiest backup method is with Carbonite.
Unless you're an advanced user, backing up to an
external hard drive is difficult to manage. Assuming
it's being done correctly, would you even know how to
restore your data? Carbonite will show a green dot on
your backed up files and email you with any problems.
Last month, a Cryptolock virus hit a few of my clients.
It encrypted all their Word, Excel, PowerPoint and
Adobe PDF's. In one instance, over 10,000 files were
encrypted on their server. It's impossible to unencrypt
these files without getting the CIA involved or paying
the $400 ransom to the hackers web site and even then,
who knows if they would even send you the encryption
key. In both cases, we had proper backups methods;
otherwise, as in the case of my CPA client, 15+ years of
accounting/tax spreadsheets would have been lost!
Backup, Backup Backup!!!!!!
- (get the free version)
- (I recommend refurbished Mac's; mint condition and
- (Just $399 for Windows 7 Pro, 4GB RAM and 1TB hard
drive. Many other Windows 7 computers to choose from
- $59 a year per computer
- Use an offer code of TWIP at the checkout page
for an extra two months
Drop me an email if you have have any questions. I've
been provided technology support for home and
small-medium businesses for nearly 20 years in south
Paul 'PC' Cook