Goodbye Windows 7

It’s been several months since I sent a newsletter. My new year’s resolution is to send a monthly newsletter. I want to write about relevant technology issues that are important to you. Please feel free to email me with any ideas or questions you have. 

It’s out with the old Windows 7, as of January 14, 2020

Cars vs Computers

In spring of 2009 we bought a 3 year old used Dodge Caravan minivan. It’s always risky to purchase a used car but here we are 11 years later and our minivan is still in remarkably good working order. We’ve made this happen by following the recommended maintenance over the years and using a talented, creative and honest mechanic. By the way, Leo (our mechanic) says to get your car rust proofed regularly with a service like Krown. It’s one of the few extra things he highly recommends and we still see the results today.

I realize that at some point soon there are going to be enough things wrong with the van that we’ll have to say goodbye. As long as it’s safe to drive and reasonably cost effective to run, we’ll keep it.

Think about the computers you’ve bought in the last decade

Do you still have one that is in good working order? Is it still ‘safe’ to use? Safety for a computer is a bit different than that of a car. Microsoft and Apple release security updates on a regular basis to keep the computer safe from hackers and other nasty villains out there on the internet. You can think of the security updates over time much like the Krown rust spray that we have put on our car every year. If you have a Windows computer that was bought between 2009 and 2012, it likely came with Windows 7. In fact, Windows 7 was such a successful and reliable operating system, that it was still being installed on new computers past 2015 when Windows 10 was released.

Up until now, if you asked me if you should upgrade your Windows 7 computer, I would ask these questions:

  1. What are you doing with your computer?
  2. Is there anything you are doing with your computer that can’t be done with Windows 7?
  3. And if the answer to the previous 2 questions was that everything is working properly, I would ask if you enjoy causing unnecessary chaos in your life?

That all changes now.

On January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will be reaching End of Life (EOL). You can read all about it here:

What does this really mean to you?

As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer release security updates. It would be as if the fine people at Krown looked at our van and said, sorry, your car is too old for a rust proofing, we’re not going to do it anymore. As you can imagine, at first the car would continue to run just fine but as time goes on, and no additional rust proofing is done, the rust will overtake the car and make it a good candidate for the junkyard.

It’s similar with your Windows 7 computer. On January 15, 2020, everything will work properly. And possibly for days and months to come it will be fine. But eventually a security issue will be discovered and there will be no fix from Microsoft. Your chance of some type of hack on your computer will only increase over time.

Should you throw out your computer on January 14, 2020?

No, you have several choices after Windows 7 goes end of life.

  1. Continue using your computer while being aware of the risks.
  2. Install a program such as Malwarebytes to provide some level of protection 
  3. Upgrade your computer to Windows 10

Continue using your computer

We already talked about what happens if you continue to use your computer after Windows 7 goes End of Life. Continue at your own risk!

Third party anti-virus and malware protection

Even after Microsoft ends support for Windows 7, numerous anti-virus and malware protection software will continue to work for some time. Examples include Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus and Malwarebytes. I highly recommend a paid subscription to Malwarebytes as it runs all the time and can protect you from problem websites and other online issues. This also applies to modern up to date Windows 10 computers.

It is important to note that even with the best antivirus protection software running on Windows 7, continuing to use Windows 7 is risky.

Upgrade to Windows 10

Since Windows 10 was released in 2015, they have made a free upgrade to Windows 10 available at You need to either run it from the website, or create a USB key or DVD to do the upgrade. It will check your computer first and will notify you if any of your hardware isn’t compatible with Windows 10. I have had much success with this upgrade, even on some computers that are 10 years old.

Concluding thoughts

While on the surface it appears that the end of Windows 7 support means that your computer is now garbage, it’s couldn’t be further from the truth. With a little planning and effort, your computer can still be a useful tool for several more years.

Now if only there was a USB key that would upgrade my 2006 Dodge Caravan to the latest model!

If you liked what you read here, click here to sign up for our newsletter.


Malwarebytes to the Rescue

Many times in the past few years I’ve had a frantic call from a family member or a friend whose computer has either slowed to a crawl or is acting strangely. The first thing that I do is have them go to and to install the free version of Malwarebytes and run a scan. I’d say about 9 times out of 10, the program finds tons of malware and other nasty stuff. The computer starts running much faster and my friend or family member things I’m a hero!

The next question I’m usually asked is how can they prevent this type of thing from happening again? I follow this with my own question – are you willing to spend a bit of money to fix this? If they’re willing to spend about $50 per computer for year then I point them to the full version of Malwarebyes:

Malwarebytes for Home | Anti-Malware Premium | Free Trial Download

Link to purchase Malwarebytes

Full disclosure – if you purchase by downloading from the above link, I will make a small commission on your purchase, at no cost to you.

Whether you purchase from here now or at elsewhere in the future, I highly recommend Malwarebytes. Think of it as having a permanent security guard always watching your computer to make sure that nasty malware is stopped in its tracks. That is essentially the difference between the paid and free version. The paid version is always running and you might not even know that it’s removing malware when you click on a link to a website.

I recommend downloading and installing the free version and doing a scan of your computer. You just may find that things run a lot more smoothly afterwards. Then you can decide if and when you are ready to purchase the full version for always-on protection.


Make your smart phone disposable

We’ve talked about data protection as it relates to your computer, but so many of us now spend more time on our phones than on the computer. You create and send emails, take pictures and videos, maybe compose documents and reports for work, all on your smart phone. Regardless of whether it is an iPhone or Android, there are ways you can set up your phone to effectively protect the data that is on it. In that way, you can think of it as a “disposable phone” meaning that if you lose or break it, a new phone can quickly be set up with all of your critical data.

Contacts and Calendar

Previously before the advent of computers and smart phones, we used paper based address books and calendars to run our lives. Early personal digital assistants allowed us to digitize this information. With this information being so critical, losing it can be very costly to our lives. By default, most phones can store calendar and contacts but with this default it means that the data is only on the phone. The first step to protecting this data is to store your calendar, contacts, and also notes and tasks in the cloud. This can be with Apple iCloud, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and several others. Most of these services can be added to popular smartphones and allow real time syncing of this data. As you add a calendar entry on either your computer or phone, the data is saved to the cloud and made available on your various devices.

Photos and Videos

It’s so easy to take pictures and we take more now than in any other time in human history! As these pictures pile up on your phone you are at risk of losing them if something happens to the phone. There are different ways to handle photos and videos:

  • Use a cloud based service such as iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox to back up pictures as you take them
  • Regularly copy pictures from your phone to your computer where they are then backed up to a cloud based service. This can also be an effective way to handle pictures and videos on phones that don’t have a lot of storage space


With mobile versions of Word and other word processors now available, you can create lengthy documents such as reports for work or school assignments right on your phone. Imagine how you would feel if you spend weeks or months working on something that was then lost when your phone broke. If you store documents in Dropbox or OneDrive or a similar cloud based service, you can open and edit these files on your phone or your computer and know that the file is safe. If you store your copies of bills and statements online in the same Dropbox or OneDrive, then you can access these from anywhere.

Other App based Data

We all have lots of apps on our phones in every category imaginable. For each type of smart phone there is an online, cloud based method of storing all types of app data. Apple uses iCloud and Android uses your Google/Gmail account. As long as your phone is set up with these cloud services, most modern apps will store their little bits of data within the cloud. This could be as simple as your weather app that remembers the 10 cities whose weather you want to track. Or more importantly, a time tracking app that you use for billing clients can store its data in the cloud. It’s important as you start using new apps, make sure that they store their data in the cloud to ensure that you are protected.

Handling the loss of your smart phone

If you’ve followed the guidelines listed here and you either lose or break your phone, don’t fear for your data. Yes, you will have to buy a new phone, but often the cost of your critical data can be far greater than the cost of your phone. When you set up your phone, it will restore all the data from the cloud and you are back up and running very quickly.

Have you ever lost of broken your phone? Did you  get back all your data or if not, what did you lose?