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Survive the end of XP

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Microsoft officially stopped its support of Windows XP earlier this month. ROBERT CAPRIO gives some advice on helping users and businesses decide what options they have now that Microsoft no longer supports them.

Microsoft officially stopped supporting the Windows XP Platform on 8 April 2014. That day has now come and gone. If your computer or network is still relying on this operating system, this guide will help you decide what to do now that Microsoft no longer supports it.

According to statistics, XP is still running on approximately 30% of the world’s PCs, which should provide you with some comfort.

· How do I know if I am running Windows XP? Click the Start button, click Run, type in winver and then press Enter.

¬∑ What does “End of Life” mean? It simply means end of support. Microsoft will no longer be providing security patches, bug fixes, service pack updates or technical support for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Server 2003. It doesn’t mean that your operating system will disappear or stop working.

¬∑ Why is “End of Life” significant? The discontinuation of security patches presents a huge security risk. Hackers and other cyber-criminals have been waiting in anticipation for this day to arrive in order to unleash havoc on unsuspecting XP users, in the form of malware and other viruses.

¬∑ What are the biggest risks? “Zero-day” exploits, are so called because they do the most damage on the first day that they are released, large amounts of those were never released before because hackers were waiting for XP support to end. Installing a reputable anti-virus such as NOD32 will provide some protection, but many third parties have already stopped providing support for Windows XP or will be doing so in the near future. In order to ensure full protection, you need to have security all the way from the operating system upwards: this is no longer possible due to the termination of XP security patches. Backing up your data is essential at this time as well as making sure that you have updated all of your applications as far as possible, and have installed the latest XP security patches.

¬∑ How do I upgrade to another Windows Operating System? Microsoft has teamed up with a company called Laplink to help customers on XP migrate to a new PC running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. Although Windows 7 is the most-likely choice because it’s similar to XP, it might be worth upgrading to Windows 8.1, especially if you are a business with multiple computers. If you are unsure, it is best to consult a professional IT support company before deciding to upgrade on your own as you may lose valuable data.

· What version of Office is best? Due to the discontinuation of Office 2003 support, we suggest moving over to Office 365. This cloud-based version provides anywhere access, easy backup and better usability.

* Roberto Caprio is the MD of Dial a Nerd.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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