If You Still Run Windows XP, You Need a Plan!

WINDOWS XP

I know.  You don’t want to hear it again. Windows XP is dead. It died 13 months ago. You can’t stop.  You need to give up that old slow XP machine, but you can’t.  You can’t really imagine it because you have everything dialing just the way you like it or at least you know how everything works. But YOU Really need a plan to move forward. Do you have the disks to install your programs on a new pc?  Will your software even run on a new computer? What version of windows can you move to?   Vista dies in 2017 and Windows 7 in 2020.  You have heard horror stories about Windows 8 ( but it’s not bad) and Window 10 is coming this summer.  You have a plan don’t you?  You deserve a new computer with a better protected operating system.WINDOWS XP

Windows 7 is the most like XP but you are almost out of time.  The supply of Windows 7 systems is dwindling.  I suspect they will not be available much longer, so don’t dally if you want Windows 7.  FYI: Windows Home versions cannot connect to a windows active directory domains.  If you are buying  a pc to connect to your work network, you probably need a Windows Professional pc.

If you are willing to try Windows 8, you will find a new  START  screen with Tiles.  There is no menu button.  Most system controls are located in different places.  Bounce your mouse pointer off the lower right corner to change, adjust volume brightness  and oher PC settings.  Control panels are hidden behind the lower left corner of the screen.  I use Windows 7 and Windows 8 Pro everyday.  I prefer Windows 8  but my Windows 7 machine had a lot of software I don’t wish to purchase again.

Small businesses and home users are not usually aware of Virtual Machines.  In a nutshell, a virtual machine can run a copy of your XP system on the new Windows Machine in addition to what ever you run on the new operating system.   Windows Pro 7 has an optional download.  Oracle acquired Sun’s Virtual Machine & you can try for free.  There are also several commercial VM products that have tech support like VMware.

If you need help finding a path forward, consult with a professional.  It will save you money in the end because you won’t purchase computers, parts or software that won’t work for you.  I want my customers to have what they need.

Steve Harris,

Scotts Valley Computer Repair

Safer PC Step by Step

Safer PC Step by Step

  • Your safer pc step 1 runs backups often.   Buy a drive like Seagate’s Free Agent drive and backup your documents, music and photos.  You backup to your drive at least monthly.  If you don’t want to worry about it, try Backblaze.com.  Backblaze will backup files while you are working.  It wakes and scans for changes to your files and moves updated items to your backup file.  Backblaze for a single PC is $50 per year.  
  • Your Safer PC step 2 is Install updates.  Microsoft releases monthly updates on the second Tuesday of each month.  Try to keep up with them.  You will see an icon in your system tray when updates are ready for you.  The icon is a yellow shield in Windows XP and a blue column with a gold ring around it in Windows 7.  Updates often patch published vulnerabilities in your operating system. Windows 8 & 10 auto install the updates.
  • TYour Safer PC step 3 is get a Top Rated AntiVirus+AntiMalware program like Emsisoft AntiMalware.  Schedule the complete system scan every month.  If  Torrent & other down-loaders are installed on your personal computer, run scans more frequently.
  • Your Safer PC step 4 is Leave your registry alone.  The windows registry is for experts.
  • Your Safer PC step 5  is Use System Restore Points.  Right click on my computer and click properties.  In the System Control panel, click the Restore tab. If the system restore check-box isn’t ticked, click it.  Your system create restore points before changes to your system like installing updates.   If something goes wrong, you can recover to a past restore point when your computer worked.
  • Your Safer PC  step 6 is UPGRADE Your Browser NOW!  IIf your not using IE11, You are way behind installing updates. If you are still on Vista or XP, it’s time for a new computer. You need an updated browser to make your safer pc.
  • Your Safer PC step 7 is try Mozilla’s Firefox or Google’s Chrome.  Microsoft Internet Explorer is older and the browser most targeted by bad programs.  Firefox and Chrome are newer programs and better maintained
  • Your Safer PC  step 8 is Use a firewall.  If you have a router, it includes a hardware firewall that protects you at home.  Windows includes a software firewall on the security control panel.  Enable your firewall.
  • Last Step to Your Safer PC plan is Get a great anti-spy or anti-malware program.   My favorite is Emsisoft AntiMalware because it provides complete protection.  I used it on my computer.  I liked it and now I’m a reseller of Emsisoft.

If you have concerns or questions,  I’m HAPPY to help You at Scotts Valley Computer Repair.

Email Steve at Steve510@mac.com or call Steve at 831.818.5716.

CREATE STRONG PASSWORDS NOW!

Do you create STRONG PASSWORDS and CHANGE THEM REGULARLY?
Do you have separate account names and passwords for each site you login to or do reuse your email name & password on multiple sites? Is your default password 111111 or do you create strong passwords? These are popular passwords in several break ins. Many sites have had data security breaches exposing the passwords they were trusted with. Yahoo, Linked In, Zappos, Dropbox and several other sites were attacked recently. A breach from years ago may come back to bite people if the company never disclosed it happened.  It it dangerous to use the same password on more than one site.

Did you hear about the reporter for Wired Magazine, Matt Honan, who had is Apple, Twitter and Gmail accounts hacked because someone got his passwords? With our digital life secured by the passwords we choose, it becomes more important to take another look at our passwords.

Create Strong Passwords: It is still your best defense

Creating strong password is still your best defense against hacking.  Hacker build computer with multiple video card and can process thousands of tries against a stolen password database.  All the words on Wikipedia, all English and famous literature words are the first items tested. Changing an i to 1 and o to 0 doesn’t strengthen your password. Create Strong passwords that are longer and include mixed case, numbers and special characters like – . * _ $ if allowed. Local Slang are stronger passwords until they become widely adopted. Some people use a word and increment the number used in the password. Try a bit harder and you will be more secure. Strong passwords can still be broken but these tips will make them take longer to crack.
Do you share your passwords with others?
Does your roommate know your login password for Netflix? Do your children use your iTunes password? Do others use your computer login instead of adding another user account for them? Do you lock your screen when your computer is inactive and require a password to re-open your account? Do you trust them to not buy stuff with your iTunes credentials or Amazon account?
Security Question Security
Every online account comes with security questions that allow the account passwords to be reset. Would it be easy for a determined attacker or enemy to guess the answers to the security questions you set up to confirm your identity? Could the information be found on your blog, website or facebook page? Hopefully your not using your mothers maiden name or other biographical facts that might be found in a quick search of public records. The sites often have a stock list of challenge questions you can use. The better challenge questions are the one you create yourself as long as you remember the answers.
Computer Security In General
Do you have an anti-virus and an anti-malware program? Do you install the updates when they become available? Do you install Microsoft’s monthly updates, released the second Tuesday of every month? Do you install the new versions of Firefox or Chrome when they are released? Do you update Oracle/ Sun’s Java when prompted? How about Adobe Acrobat Reader, Flash and Shockwave? These products form the base of the system and your internet experience. Failure to update any or all will make your system more vulnerable to attack.