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.
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:
- What are you doing with your computer?
- Is there anything you are doing with your computer that can’t be done with Windows 7?
- 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: https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/help/4057281/windows-7-support-will-end-on-january-14-2020
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.
- Continue using your computer while being aware of the risks.
- Install a program such as Malwarebytes to provide some level of protection
- 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 https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/software-download/windows10. 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.
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!
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