The Demise (End-of-Life) of Windows XP!

So what does End-of-Life Mean For Windows XP and you?

rip-windows-xpYou may already be aware that Microsoft has “retired” Windows XP, its 13 year old Operating System. To be more precise, they have ended support for the Operating System which means no more critical and security updates will be released which in turn means it will no longer be possible to secure the system against attack.

Without these updates from Microsoft your PC will become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information and steal your passwords. Anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you now Windows XP itself is unsupported.

So what are your options?

Well, if you aren’t worried about security or you don’t connect to the Internet then you may as well stick with your faithful old XP computer! This is especially true if you have old applications installed or hardware attached which may not be compatible with the later versions of Windows.

But if you are worried then you have two options, upgrade your current computer to a later Windows Operating System or buy a new computer. I guess there is a third option: get rid of the Windows XP computer and buy an Mac or a tablet!

OK, so what are the latest Windows Operating Systems (OS)?MS-Windows-8

Your first option is the latest version of Windows which is 8.1.1, a very different kettle of fish to XP. For starters it has no “Start” button on the screen and also comes with two vastly different interfaces (one designed for touch screens). There is a fairly steep learning curve with Windows 8 and some people really do not like it, me included. But don’t get me wrong, it is a good OS that works very well on later hardware and I am sure it works well on tablets as well, but from my point of view they have made Windows 8 a lot more complex than it needs to be from a maintenance and support viewpoint.

windows 7The other option is Windows 7 but this is not available from all suppliers or on all brand name computers. Windows 7 does at least have a familiar feel to it and you will find most things located in the same place as in Windows XP. You won’t have too many problems transitioning from XP to 7.

Note: our supplier can still source Windows 7 and this OS will be supported by Microsoft for at least the next 6 years according to their End-of-life fact sheets.

So what should you do?

You need to decide if you want to stick with your old XP computer or upgrade your OS on your current computer or buy a new one. If you choose option 2 or 3 you will have to decide between Windows 7 or 8. Obviously your budget will have an effect on these decisions. You will also need to factor in extra costs such as transferring all of your programs and data (assuming you don’t want to do it yourself). You may also need to replace aging hardware such as printers and scanners which may not be compatible with 7 or 8. If you do replace your computer then this would also be a good time to upgrade applications such as Microsoft Office.

So a number of questions need to be answered and please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like help with these!

Note: If you decide to stick with Windows XP then these are my recommendations to ensure the best safety online but these steps are not guaranteed to keep you safe:

  • don’t do any Internet banking, buy anything online or do anything that requires credit card or bank details
  • avoid any websites that require a login, particularly those which may store sensitive or personal data
  • do not click on any links in mail messages

Click on this link to read a good article from PC Authority: The end of an era .

Online Data Backup

In an earlier post, “Online data Storage“, I tried to explain the difference between  Online Data Storage and Online Data Backup. I don’t think I did a particular job of it so I will try again here. I now have a much better understanding of the two so this attempt should be better!

Online Data Backup (ODB) involves creating a copy of your critical data on a server somewhere out there in “The Cloud”. The Cloud being the Internet (at least that is how I think of it). This copy of your data remains out there on someones secure servers until you remove it. You do not use this data in the day to day running of your business, it is there purely as an insurance policy against loss or corruption of the local data on your computer. [Read more…]

Smartphone security and data backup

With the continuing fall-out from the “News of the World” phone tapping scandal now is probably a good time to talk about security for your smartphone. If you have an iPhone, Nokia or HTC or any one of the other smartphones you should be treating access to this and it’s stored data the same as you would any computers you may own; in fact; taking into account the portability and size of your smartphone, you should be taking this security even more seriously!

Security on your smartphone goes far beyond having a PIN to access the phone, you need the equivalent of PC anti-virus & firewall software at least. And don’t forget about backing up the data on the phone!htc

There are numerous ways that “bad” people can access your phone. Obviously having physical access to it is one way and you may think that a PIN or password will fix this but remember passwords can be cracked. Also, don’t forget the media or memory card inserted into the little slot in the side or back that contains images, videos and other information. Of course your phone can also be remotely “hacked” as in the News of the World story where journalists were able to access a phone remotely and read the messages, etc stored on it.

[Read more…]

AppleMac support

I often get asked by various people if anyone in the Southern Highlands supports AppleMac. Well, the answer is  “Yes, we do”!

I have owned a MacBook for a few years now, my son has a MacBook Pro and I have a number of clients with iMacs. We also run Windows PCs and laptops at home so I have experience with integrating the two. As for adding them to your network and sharing resources with Windows PCs – no problem! These days Windows and Mac mostly play nice and don’t have so many of the old problems left lingering.

[Read more…]

The Cloud

A while ago I talked about Online Data Storage (ODS) and referred to Online Data Backup (ODB). In the time since that post I have been testing offerings of both and have a much better understanding of how they work and what benefits they can offer us. But before I get into that I need to explain “The Cloud”.

Firstly a quick explanation and a bit of terminology (sorry about the jargon but you only need a basic understanding of this). You will be hearing a lot more references in the future to something called “The Cloud”. Briefly, The Cloud has been around for a long time and refers to services offered online (on the Internet). In fact if you have been using Microsoft Exchange services online then you have been using The Cloud. These services include data storage & backup and also software applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, email, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and even accounting. The provision of online software services is known as Software as a Service, or SaaS. You can even rent hardware services (Windows servers, etc).

[Read more…]

Mac Shield fake anti-virus

Hi everyone,

First of all, to coin a phrase from Douglas Adams:  “Don’t Panic!”.

As they say, there is a first time for everything and I have just had my first infected MacBook! Yes, that’s right, Macs can be infected even though a lot of people seem to think otherwise.

There is an infection going around called one of the following:

MacShield, MacDefender, MacProtector, MacGuard

[Read more…]

Scam and other security issues

I am sure if you own a PC you have at some stage experienced an infection of one type or another.

You may not be aware but there are several types of infection ranging from the annoying to the downright dangerous. Although in the user world just about all infections are referred to as ‘viruses’ there are in fact a number of categories of infection of which a virus is just one. There are also many ways that these infections can get into your computer, the most well known being via an email. Below are some of the categories of infection:

•    virus
•    trojan horse
•    worm
•    keylogger
•    password sniffer
•    adware/spyware

[Read more…]