Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

It is time to face facts and finally dump Windows XP

I have been saying this for a while now; but, sometimes people just want to know what other pros are saying..

Microsoft Windows XP is 10-year old technology; it is time to dump it for something better and safer.

It is time to finally dump Microsoft Windows XP. There are no longer any truly compelling reasons to stick with XP, just excuses. Yes, it still works, but so does Morse Code, horse and buggies, and the IBM PC Jr. I have on display in the office. The Windows 7, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems are all better operating systems than Windows XP. They are more secure, they take advantage of modern hardware and software technology, and they are closer to the beginning of their respective product life cycles.

And consider what we have seen in the past few years. Smartphones and tablet PCs are selling by the millions and the way your users will interact with the network has changed forever. For many, the idea of a 9-to-5 job is the stuff of nostalgia; we work when we work and we need to be connected at all times with any device that happens to be available. Not one of those devices is running Windows XP and with good reason.”

To read the entire Tech Republic article, click here.

Not only am I a tech, but I write about, and study, Internet safety. A big part of my RL job is repairing machines which have been infected with “malware” (spyware, keyloggers.. “viruses”). 90% of the machines on my workbench for malware removal in 2011 have been Windows XP (32-bit) .. and 90% of those had antivirus or a “Internet Security Suite” installed.
These facts mirror what I observed in 2010.

I am going to be blunt (again) — I would not connect a Windows XP machine to the Internet unless it were fully “sandboxed” by an application like Time Freeze ($39) or Time Machine (free) and the web browser was sandboxed by an application like Sandboxie (free+pro).
Or it was a virtual machine.
Or I was deliberately trying to get infected (to gather malware samples).

None of those three things are things the “average computer user” is going to take the time to learn and implement. (I would hope they would at least do the first.. but.. let’s be real.) And let’s not forget: Microsoft has come out and said they want us off of XP and are ending support for it. Hint?

(And, please. I do not want to hear from people telling me they are running 32-bit XP and have never been infected. I am certain there are some of you out there, yet.)

Bottom line is – it sure seems to me – it is past time to get yourself a new 64-bit computer.

Be that Windows 7 SP1, Apple’s Mac, or Linux.

I understand that simple economics will prevent many from following that advice. For those folks, I seriously and ardently recommend the sandboxing tools mentioned above.. and also rethinking your budget and trying really, really hard to fit a new computer into it. To put it simply, when it comes to software product cycles, Windows XP is just plain ancient. And vulnerable. The “hackers” have had it under their microscopes for 10 years…

Don’t agree? Scroll back up; click the link; read the article.
I’m just giving you my 2¢.

Bonus reading: Typical Sounds A Hard Drive Will Make When Failing

“During all my years of working around PC’s I have learned to not only monitor for the visual cues of the onset of problems; but to also monitor for the audio cues, as well.  For example, if I am assisting someone on a PC that may be experiencing problems, I am lost if there is not a hard drive LED light to monitor the activity of the hard drive…”

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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March 28, 2011 - Posted by | advice, computers, Microsoft, security, software, Windows, XP

8 Comments »

  1. Hey Paul,

    Here is my issue; I have a few XP Pro Business laptops that run “AMAZINGLY WELL!”

    Here comes the denial-denial. I think they are great in the event a close friend or business associate in a jam needs a loaner (don’t say it! I know; no personal data on either one; I have tested them with forensic recovery tools).
    Equally good if I am traveling and may want a less important laptop for public usage (less assisted flight risk).

    They are worth more to keep then to throw in the tech junk pile or try to sell.

    Maybe an upgrade to linux (barring any compatibility issues) is the answer.

    There must be countless XP owners in similar
    situations; therapy anyone!
    Dealing with computers short shelf life as determined by silicon valleys bean counters is wearing.

    Thanks for listening, now what do I owe you?

    Best,

    Bob

    Like

    Comment by BOB SLYKER | March 28, 2011 | Reply

    • BOB SLYKER,
      If it were merely a case of planned obsolescence so the Silicon Valley companies could sell more computers, I would not be nearly as ardent in my opinion. But the fact is, my opinion of XP is a result of cybercriminals (aka “hackers”). And, also, there’s the fact that the future of computing is w/o doubt 64-bit (as is today’s hardware).

      The question of “what do I do with my XP machines?” is a good one. And many will face it. The popular answers you’ll see basically boil down to:
      1) Convert it to some other use (such as a media/print server.. or hardware firewall)
      2) Convert to Linux
      (Frankly, of my XP boxes, one is being kept (offline) as a gamer; one is for techie “testbed” purposes; and the rest are scrap for parts.)

      For the majority of folks, these are not happy (nor, really, “doable”) answers. So, as I state in my article I would – in addition to the usual antivirus – “sandbox” the whole system (my preference for that is Time Freeze) and also use Sandboxie.
      And, like you, I would not keep any valuable, or “personally identifying” info on there, nor do online banking.
      And I would make a “ghost image” of my C:\ drive frequently.

      .. 10 years, in “computer years”, is a lllooonnnggg time.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. Howdy Paul

    OK, so I’ve managed to get 2 computers that are running Windows 7 64 bit, but there is a third running XP, and it it heavily used by my wife. I have a licensed copy of Sandboxie and felt pretty safe with it installed, and sandboxing my obvious internet accessing applications. Your article started a frenzy of Google searching on the subject. You actually scared me… the same as if a mechanic said “Your engine is going to be toast if you don’t replace that timing belt”…

    I don’t really understand how to set up a virtual machine. Can you point us to some “How-to” articles on the subject?

    Thanks

    Like

    Comment by Balmy33 | March 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Balmy33,
      It was not my intention to scare anyone.. and I apologize if I did. My intention is to remind people that XP is at its end-of-lifecycle.

      Using VMWare or Virtual PC is not terribly difficult; but is sort of thing more for “power users” than “the average computer user”. A good A to Z tutorial would be a project! Fortunately, YouTube is loaded with How To videos (such as this one, Windows XP install on VMware Workstation 6)
      I would start by using YouTube’s search feature to look for tutorials pertinent to your choice of VM, using term “How To Use VMWare” (or “How To Use Virtual PC”).

      Perhaps the easiest way is to turn your C:\ into a ISO file, (with a tool like ImgBurn) and then launch it inside your VM program.

      However, for more average folks, Sandboxie (along with keeping your programs up to date and good anti-malware protection) go a long way to providing a safe browsing experience. It is not quite a bulletproof solution, but there is no such thing as a bulletproof solution. (The best AV is located between the ears..)

      For even more protection (for average users) I highly recommend purchasing Time Freeze. About the only learning curve is remembering to turn it off temporarily to install updates and patches. If money is an issue, use Comodo’s free Time Machine.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 29, 2011 | Reply

  3. Great article, you really gave Windows XP users a lot of insight about upgrading. Having a highly functional and secure PC is definitely important, and the information you shared was very helpful. It might be helpful to go into more detail about the benefits of Windows 7 compared to Windows XP to give readers even more information on what they would gain security-wise with the update!

    Like

    Comment by TuneUp | March 30, 2011 | Reply

    • TuneUp Blogger,
      Good to see you here again, and thank you for the suggestion.

      Generally speakin’, of Windows 7, I have said. “It is – finally – the Windows Bill Gates has been promising us since Windows 95″. And the Industry agrees, it is the best version of Windows yet. Specific to security.. well, I could write a whole series! (And I just may – time allowing…)

      For those who would like to see what I have written about the latest Microsoft operating system, click here.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 30, 2011 | Reply

  4. You’re completely right. There is a line, and Windows XP is about to cross it.

    Wake up everyone, there have been two operating system releases since Windows XP. Yes, Vista had its fair share of problems, but what about Windows 7? Licenses are NOT that expensive, and I feel that they are 100% worth it. If you don’t want 7, Linux might be the route for you. It’s free and will not be at the end of its lifecycle… ever.

    Like

    Comment by VitalGeek | April 5, 2011 | Reply

    • VitalGeek,
      I see you are a tech (and a blogger?) too. I am glad to see your support here.

      It is w/o doubt time to “go 64” (bit), and – about your points – I only can say I do not recommend to the “average computer user” a switch to Linux, nor am I inclined to advise “upgrading” XP vintage machines to Win 7 (and do so only when the machine is “high end” and rather new..
      It is time to take the XP boxes offline, and get new machines — generally speaking.

      For those who are a little “geekier” than average (and if you’re reading this, you are), the switch to Linux is a reasonable option to keep those old units running and surfing. I do, however, recommend downloading a “Distro” and burning it to CD, as you can boot to these “live discs” and test drive Linux before committing. A good place to start would be the most popular Linux title – Ubuntu. (http://www.ubuntu.com/)

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | April 5, 2011 | Reply


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