As of April 8, 2014, Windows XP will no longer be supported with new updates.
One change that XP users will have already noticed is that those running Microsoft Security Essentials has already showing that your PC is potentially unprotected. A simple fix is to simply uninstall Microsoft Security Essentials and install a third-party anti-virus. Avira provides an excellent free anti-virus, that I ran across recently. It appears to have much better detection abilities than Microsoft Security Essentials and doesn’t seem to slow my machine down.
In their article, “Support is Ending for Windows XP“, Microsoft advises upgrading to Windows 8.1, if your current machine is capable, or buying a new PC. If you haven’t tried out Windows 8 or 8.1, you’re going to find a much different interface than you’re used to. Just try to imagine the iPhone, Android phone, iPad, or tablet PC layout on a desktop computer, and you have a pretty good idea of what it’s like. If you’re PC usage consists of playing games and socializing on Facebook, then you probably won’t have an issue. If you need to do serious work, then it definitely has its shortcomings. I’m not saying Windows 8/ 8.1 isn’t “capable.” I’m saying it isn’t intuitive or user-friendly, if you’re accustomed to the interface of Windows XP or Windows 7. (Yes, I purposely left out Windows Vista… it was, and still remains, a poor excuse for an operating system. I developed that opinion over the course of repairing well over 100 Vista PC’s.)
What to do? What if you don’t like Windows 8/ 8.1, your current machine isn’t capable of upgrading, or you just can’t afford to buy a new computer? Well, you can still use Windows XP. Just realize that you will need to be more vigilant about keeping your system protected. The first step is a good anti-virus, and Avira is a very good option. I’d highly recommend their browser protection module, that it will ask you to install, along with the free anti-virus. Another smart move would be to add Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, as an added layer of security. These two programs use minimal resources and provide a good level of active protection for most browsing.
In addition, you may also want to install a few other scan tools, to enhance your ability to clean out malware, should you become infected. These free scanners do not provide active, real-time protection, but do an excellent job of removing threats that make it past your other security:
- Malwarebytes - Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free’s industry-leading scanner detects and removes malware like worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, spyware, and more. All you have to do is launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free and run a scan. It’s that simple.
- Super AntiSpyware - Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.
- Sophos Virus Removal Tool - Using cutting edge technology found in our enterprise-grade software, this powerful tool detects all types of malicious software on your computer—including viruses, spyware, rootkits and Conficker—and returns it to a working state.
- CCleaner - CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.
Note: Malwarebytes and Super AntiSpyware offer paid versions with real-time protection. Using these tools does not guarantee that your PC will not become infected, or that you can remove all infections. If in doubt, consult your local computer repair service. With some infections, the only reasonable option is to reinstall your operating system.