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Windows 7 End of Life

If you use Windows 7, you might have heard that the operating system has entered its End of Life phase. That sounds dramatic, but don’t worry. Your PC or laptop might be exposed to some new risks, but there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself. Here’s everything you need to know about the “end” of Windows 7.

Windows 7 End of Life

What to do after the Windows 7 end of life

You can keep using Windows 7 after its end of life, but you shouldn’t. The Windows 7 end of life occurred on January 14, 2020. End of Life really just means end of “support”. A steady flow of patches and software updates are needed to keep computer systems running smoothly and securely, and “End of Life” means that this process has finally stopped.

Here’s what will change:

  • The operating system will stop receiving essential security updates.
  • Your machine will be at risk from hacks and viruses.
  • The threats posed by ransomware will increase.
  • Your system will run software slower and less efficiently.

Windows 7 upgrade

Your best bet is to switch to Windows 10, Microsoft’s modern system. The question is, does this mean buying a new machine?

Not necessarily.

There is no longer a free upgrade option, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay for new hardware. If your device is compatible with the Windows 10 operating system, you could just buy the software on its own and download it.

Staying on an old computer is still risky, of course. Windows 10 will continue to be updated and developed, and in a few years, some applications may not work as well – if at all – on an outdated PC.

Windows 7 was released in 2009, more than a decade ago, so many of the devices that used it will not be able to properly run a system as advanced as Windows 10. If your machine falls into that category, you’ll want to consider buying a new PC or laptop – one that comes with Windows 10 installed as the default operating system.

Staying with Windows 7 after its end of life

If you like Windows 7, or if upgrading isn’t an option, you can keep running it. However, we do not recommend this – some applications might not work as well over time, and without support, your system will be increasingly vulnerable to viruses, malware, and cyberattacks.

Many of the essential updates provided by Microsoft focus on security and without these your device will be at risk. That is reason enough to abandon Windows 7 and move to a new system.

If you’re going to keep using Windows 7, it’s important that you protect your device as much as possible.

Here are three simple approaches to keeping your machine safe while running Windows 7:

  • Watch out for malware: avoid high-risk websites, suspicious downloads, and emails urging you to follow links. As your system grows increasingly risky to run, consider following the CVE database to stay on top of the new threats as they emerge.
  • Use antivirus software: some of these services won’t run on Windows 7, but others may for some time. Keep in mind that most developers will end their support for Windows 7 as well, so these important tools could become obsolete on your legacy system as well.
  • Stay protected: use a VPN for Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 to encrypt your data. This will reduce the risk of being hacked, but with an unsupported system, you’re still fighting a losing battle.

If you’re smart and stay safe when connecting to the internet, you can keep running Windows 7 for the foreseeable future. Taking a few proactive steps to protect yourself and your device will lower the likelihood of viruses and hacks, but the threats will multiply across time.