Windows 7 End of Life: Upgrade vs. Rebuild

As we meet with our clients, we are discussing the upcoming end of support for Windows 7 and what that means for them. Most of the machines our Managed Services Team supports are not running Windows 7.  However, there are a few folks that are still running it.  Like Windows XP before it, Windows 7 will soon be no longer supported.

What does End of Support mean?

On January 14, 2020 Microsoft will no longer offer support for Windows 7 machines (for free). This means they face these risks:

  • Security Vulnerabilities: Microsoft will no longer be developing security updates for this operating system. That leaves all Windows 7 machines very vulnerable to hackers exploits.
  • Software Incompatibility: It will become more challenging to find compatible software and applications for Windows 7. If you have to use older software, this also leaves your applications vulnerable to security threats.
  • Compliance Issues: Some industries such as healthcare, finance, legal, and many others require machines to be running the latest operating systems. If you are running Windows 7, your industry-specific applications could be considered “legacy” and also non-compliant.
  • Poor Performance: Over time machines age and performance suffers. Consider the cost of downtime vs. the cost of an upgrade. We always recommend that your machines should always be covered under warranty. Most machines that are running Windows 7, are probably not under warranty or are slowly coming near to its end of coverage.

What Are Your Options?

There are three paths to consider so you, your company, and your data are not at risk on an unsupported OS.

1. Purchasing a new machine vs. upgrading the operating system on your current machine

The factors to consider in buying a new computer are fairly consistent

  • Age. If your PC will be more than five years old by January 2020, it’s probably not worth the expense of upgrading the OS on old hardware.
  • Components. Next generation software tends to consume machine resources, so what processor and how much RAM is in your current PC.  Unless you have an i5 processor and at least 8GB of RAM, you should not upgrade to Windows 10 on that PC.

If your machine is relatively new, and has the appropriate components, the next things to consider are how to upgrade to Windows 10

2.  A Clean Install of Windows 10

This method of moving to Windows 10 means rebuilding a current machine from scratch. This removes the possibility of passing any system instabilities on to the new OS. This can help eliminate bloat and slowness from files and applications that are no longer needed. The work or challenge associated with a clean install is that it requires thoughtfulness and planning.  Your old hard drive and the data on it will be wiped clean, meaning you’ll require a good backup of everything in advance.

3.  Upgrading the current OS to Windows 10

This method will install Windows 10 directly onto your current PC, and will generally be faster than a clean install.  While we love saving time, any instabilities or performance issues with your current machine will be inherited in the new operating system.  There may be old files, data corruption and/or applications that have affected your current machine, and your new OS might end up slower than it should.

As we discuss Windows 7 EOL support options with our clients, we are considering the many factors for each.  These include time, expense, business interruption, inconvenience and more, in order to make a strong recommendation.  If you’d like to learn more or have questions, feel free to reach out to us.


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