How Will Windows XP’s End of Support Affect You (And What You Can Do About It)

Windows XP has been an operating system that for many has proven to be highly reliable and much more useful than other versions. But the operating system has grown old and Microsoft is pulling the plug on its support as of April 8, 2014. This means you won’t be getting security updates and patches from Windows Update anymore and instead will have to upgrade to a newer version of Windows if you still want that privilege. So, what are you supposed to do to survive lights out? This is what we’re here to discuss – what you can do after Windows XP’s end of support by Microsoft.

How the Loss Will Affect You

If you’re using a newer version of Windows, you can just brush this off as an uneventful evening and click on another of our wonderful articles. This isn’t going to affect you one bit. However, if you’re using XP, you’re in for a bit of a wobbly future in terms of security. Many of the patches distributed through Windows Update were covering holes in Windows’ security. Any further holes discovered in Windows XP, which still runs on one-third of all computers in the world, will remain uncovered.

Granted, this is no reason to move your computer to the equivalent of a secure bunker with armed guards, but it is time to consider upgrading to Windows 7 or 8. If you’re so enchanted by Windows XP that you can’t let go of it, then it’s time to take a few extra measures to protect yourself. This still isn’t going to replace never getting updates anymore, but it’s better than doing nothing.

Disable Remote Desktop Capabilities

windows xp end of support - RDP

Remote Desktop, particularly on Windows XP, is not exactly the most secure piece of software. No further updates for XP means you won’t get any updates on the RDP application that comes with it. Just disable it entirely. If you’d like to learn how, read this tutorial by Microsoft. Doing so will close the port that RDP opens and render you virtually immune to any RDP attacks.

Get a Good Firewall And Security Suite. Now.

windows xp end of support - Firewall

Speaking of ports, it’s time to start putting a little bit of your weekend pizza budget on a firewall. Doing this is going to provide some added protection against common exploits in Windows XP. While Microsoft won’t update your system anymore, your firewall’s maker will still be hard at work covering up the loose ends left behind by them. The same goes for your antivirus software and any other added protection you can find (legitimately, not through some pop-up ad that shows a fake virus scan in progress).

Understand You’re Fighting A Losing Battle

You’re never going to win this. Eventually, developers will stop supporting Windows XP in their hardware. Consider the fact that Windows XP is only 3 years younger than Windows 98. The only thing encouraging developers to stick to supporting XP is the fact that so many people still use it (30 percent of the world, as mentioned above).

It may not be time to upgrade yet, but the moment will come.

Scrutinize Everything You Execute And Install

If you’re going to install a shiny new program, make sure it’s from a trustworthy vendor. Also, any EXE files you download should have a pass through VirusTotal, even if you already have antivirus installed. You can never be too safe with the software you’re using, especially considering that a virus will now be more likely to just waltz right into your system without you knowing any better.

Put Limits On Your Account

windows xp end of support - accounts

If you have been using XP with the administrator account or giving yourself administrative privileges, it’s time to correct that. Limit the amount of access you can have with the account you sign into your computer through. Putting strict limits on an account will consequently limit the amount of damage a virus can do if it manages to infect you. Having a limited account in XP means you’ll have to log in as the administrator to install software. This is a pain in the neck, but it keeps your system in check.

Use Your XP Computer As An Offline Box

If you don’t absolutely need the Internet on your XP PC, don’t use it. This puts an iron lock on your system and doesn’t allow new infections to get in. Chances are this isn’t a choice you can make. If you can, do it as soon as you can.

Just Upgrade (Or Something)

windows xp end of support - change OS

I try to steer clear of writing opinionated content, but I feel I must give my personal opinion here: Windows XP was a great operating system that has served us for so many years. It’s quite tragic that its developer wants to remove support when the OS is still alive and well within the computing community. However, we cannot change reality. It’s time to move on and wave goodbye to the version of Windows we all know and love. Upgrading to Windows 7 (if you really can’t live without a proper “Start” menu) is perhaps the best way to pull off the band-aid. It’ll grow on you.

If you don’t like my suggestion, maybe it’s time to consider a distribution of Linux, which provides much more functionality than it did back when Windows XP first came out in 2001. I highly recommend Ubuntu, a Linux distribution that provides many of the features you’ve been accustomed to in XP. Alternatively, try Zorin OS if you are so used to the Windows user interface.

It’s Your Turn To Talk

What are your feelings about this? We want to know! Submit a comment below if you’d like to participate in a discussion.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez
Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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