XP ExpiredAs a lot of folks already know, Microsoft ceased support for its XP operating system as of the 9th April 2014.
First released into the wild late 2001, it is still found in many homes and businesses. Those users should do so with great care.
There exist flaws, oversights and "features" in every operating system (OS) which, once discovered, can be exploited for all manner of mischief. Supported OSs get updated (ideally) to combat these exploits. As of early April, XP will not.
That means every passing day, there are more XP flaws uncovered and exploited.
Should I Upgrade?Certainly, Microsoft would like you to...
Newer Microsoft OSs require faster, more powerful machines to run properly. Unless you've purchased your PC in the last two years, it's unlikely that a straight upgrade to Windows 7 is your best bet. The upgrade will likely cost £75-100... money better applied to a new PC. The requirements for Windows 8 and its variants will nearly always be beyond consideration.
What If I Don't Upgrade?Potential risks of using a Windows XP machine continues to rise, every day. Whether you can tolerate that risk is perhaps a better question.
Current malware infections can silently infect your PC, turning it into a SPAM sending machine to infect other users. They can monitor your keyboard usage to collect passwords, bank information and other details. They can attempt to extort you into paying their creators' money. They can do a lot more.
That being said, paid, business grade malware protection software can help manage that risk. I say paid, because I would not trust free versions of antivirus and firewall software, in this case.
I should further note that we frequently see infected PCs that already have good virus protection software installed. In some cases, software updates have not been installed, routine scans were not performed, and multiple software brands were rendering one another useless.
However, the number one cause for infection that we see is a user clicking on an infection to run it. It either comes in as an email attachment or a web link to some legitimate looking site. Antivirus software is like a lock designed to keep the thief out of your house. If you let her in, the lock can't help you.
In any event, backing up your data on an external device (or with an external service) has never been more important.
Managed Risk vs Hardware UpgradeThere are a lot of factors to consider, but the annual cost of a business grade virus protection system, combined with the relatively low speed of most XP machines we've seen in the past year, suggests that it may be time to get a new desktop or laptop. If you're PC is more than three years old, it merits serious consideration.
If you would like some assistance regarding this or any other aspect of your business' technology, please contact us. As always, all of the information on this site is for general information purposes only and does not constitute advice.