The age of Windows 7 is drawing to a close. We have had discussions with all of our business clients about the looming end-of-extended-support for Windows 7, but home and personal computers also become unsupported by Microsoft after January 20, 2020. On this date security patches for known vulnerabilities will no longer be automatically distributed, or even available for most people and companies.
Those computers still running Windows 7 may be vulnerable to malicious attacks, not unlike the ransomware attack that just hit the city of Baltimore. The city has a pretty sizable IT department, and they will recover or recreate most of what they need in order to continue to serve the city. Attacks on home computers have the potential to be more permanently or personally damaging.
Will you be impacted? Most home computers that were purchased in the last six years shipped with Windows 8 or Windows 10. If your computer says 8 or 10 when it starts up, and you have agreed to automatic Microsoft updates, then you don’t need to do anything about this deadline.
Unfortunately, Windows 8 ended up being such a poor experience for many users and businesses that they reverted to Windows 7, and stayed there. Many business machines that were sold to end users to take home are still running Windows 7.
If your computer says 7, Vista, or Windows XP, when it starts up, your computer is most likely older than six years old and perhaps even closer to 10 years old. Many of us simply haven’t replaced or upgraded machines bought more than six years ago. You and your family need to review how you are currently using the computer and future plans or needs.
What does this mean? If you have a home computer old enough to be running Windows 7 (or Vista, or even Windows XP), you should probably decide as a family if it is time to replace those machines. If you have been able to adequately meet your computing needs with an older computer, you may have several viable alternative options to choose from. Your replacement might not necessarily be a ‘traditional’ desktop, box machine, that you’re familiar with.
- Chromebooks are laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS. There isn’t much local storage, these computers rely entirely on cloud based applications as storage, like Google Docs or Microsoft 365. But as long as you have a printer that works with Google Print, these machines can be great for most home and student work.
- Your needs may be simple enough that you can do what you need to do on an iPad or other tablet and keyboard combination. First ask, “what tasks do my family and I use my home computer for? Can those task be done in web applications or mobile apps?”
If, however, you determine your machines need to be replaced with full computers, there has never been a better range of options available.
- Windows 10 desktops and laptops are better than they’ve ever been. Every vendor makes good machines (and every vendor ships some cheap junk).
- For average business users, we recommend an Intel i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, and at least a 256 GB Solid State hard drive (SSD) for storage, wrapped into the form factor that you like best. The slowest part of most modern computers is the hard drive, and getting an SSD makes a world of difference.
- Consider increasing the size of the SSD if you are using it to store pictures and other media. Multimedia editing and video gaming benefit from increasing RAM, processor type and speed, and dedicated Video processors.
- Or consider Apple’s lineup of computers.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that all computers, like cars, roofs, and living creatures, do not last forever. However, to keep your personal home data and computing habits safe and protected, preparing for these upgrades and migrations are important. If you’d like someone to bounce ideas off of, reach out to us at Howard Tech Advisors. We can’t help fix or migrate your home machines, but we can answer questions and offer advice.
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At Howard Tech Advisors, we manage your IT infrastructure so that you don’t have to. Whether you need assistance creating a disaster recovery plan or you’d like to outsource your IT needs, we can help! Keep up with our weekly blog to stay up-to-date on the latest tech trends, security information you need to know to stay safe online, and tips and tricks to effectively navigating an increasingly mobile world.