What to do if you use Windows 7 after January 14, 2020
You are not alone if you feel Windows 7 has been Microsoft’s best operating system to date. There are many people still using it vs Windows 10, although Windows 10 was first debuted in 2015. Regardless of the reason you have decided to stick with Windows 7, there are steps you should take to ensure it keeps working after its end of life (EOL).
On January 14, 2020, Microsoft’s Extended Support for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008/R2 and Exchange Server 2010 came to an end. That means the end of sales, end of support and end of monitoring and updates. As a result, security issues leave users vulnerable to attack and exploitation.
Here are some options for you to consider with your Windows 7 systems to stay better protected from threats.
- Upgrade to Windows 10
If you upgrade to Windows 10, there are a few benefits. First, both operating systems are Microsoft’s and, as a result, the upgrade process will be fairly easy to do so. Second, most of the programs will update to work on Windows 10. Third, the layout and interface are similar to Windows 7. With these benefits, the adjustments should be relatively painless. However, there are known issues of some upgrades not completing successfully requiring a complete reinstall.
There are variables to consider when upgrading to Windows 10, such as the amount of memory and hard drive space available. Therefore, you should either purchase an in place Windows 10 upgrade, purchase a new Windows 10 system or look at refurbished Windows 10 systems.
- Purchase Microsoft Windows 7 Extended Support
Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) comes with a minimal price tag, and lasts for a year giving you time to make a decision later in the year.
- Roll the Dice with Windows 7 and Manually Tighten Security
Step 1 – Current Antivirus/Malware Protection
Microsoft is doing away with its own antivirus software for Windows 7. You will need to install a reputable antivirus program. Research which one you want to use and make sure it will stay current while still running on Windows 7.
Step 2 – Discontinue Using Microsoft Office Suite
Using older versions of Office along with Windows 7 is not recommended due to vulnerabilities. Discontinue using Microsoft Office and any of its components, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher or Outlook. You can change over to Google's office suite. In lieu of Outlook, try Gmail.
Step 3 – Disable Java and Flash Player
Java and Flash will make your Windows 7 system very insecure without continuing updates. We recommend you disable both of them from your browser.
Step 4 – Do Not Use Internet Explorer or Edge
Instead, use a non-Microsoft browser that can stay updated on Windows 7.
Step 5 – Use a Limited User Account
Limited user accounts will make your computer much more secure from malware and hackers. Create a limited user account for yourself and anyone else who uses that computer. Save the administrator account for the administrator who installs, updates or removes applications and other executable software. You need only one admin account per machine — and every user should have a limited account for daily use.
While you may be on your way to upgrading to Windows 10 at some point, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the process. During the interim, we hope this article will help you understand your options and to make the choices that are best suited for you and your needs.
Remember that no matter which option you choose, you should always have current backups and separate from your system in case of compromise. We recommend cloud-based backup systems such as Carbonite or CrashPlan.
Having a Managed Service Provider (MSP) help with your IT support, IT services and cyber security safety can make your day-to-day operations more efficient.