You may have heard that as of January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will no longer be supported by Microsoft.

But what does that mean? I’ve had a lot of friends and family ask, “what should I do?” It’s an interesting question because it depends on a few factors.

First, let’s talk about what “End-of-Life” means for Windows 7.

Simply put, it means that January 14, 2020 will be the last time Windows 7 gets security updates from Microsoft. After that, if any bugs are found in Windows 7 by hackers, they won’t be fixed.

Let me address a few common questions about this.

“Will my computer stop working?”

No. Your computer will keep running after January 14, 2020. You probably won’t notice anything different in the first few days and weeks. However, it will be more dangerous to run Windows 7 for much longer. Why?

Since Windows 7 will no longer be supported, other apps may stop getting updates for Windows 7 as well. Apps such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and older versions of Office. This will leave your computer much more vulnerable to new malware that Windows 10 may be immune to.

“Will attackers be able to get into my [insert account here]?”

No. Over time there may be new Windows 7 security holes found that make it easier for attackers to steal your data.

“You’re saying there may be issues in the future.

You’re right, I am saying “may” a lot. That’s because end-of-life issues won’t affect you right away. Old, out-of-date operating systems and software are ripe targets for attackers because they know the problems won’t be fixed. In other words, out-of-date software makes you and your data more vulnerable to an attack.

“What should I do?”

You have a few options. My Squeaky Clean Computers clients have made their move over to Windows 10. Microsoft still seems to allow people to upgrade to Windows 10 using their existing Windows 7 license key. Depending on how long they keep that going, you may be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

However, consider the life of your computer. Windows 7 came out in 2009. Most computers have a lifespan of 5 years. If your computer was purchased in 2014 or earlier, you may want to upgrade to a new one. Around 5 years is when we start to see major components start to fail (e.g. cooling fans, hard drives). A new computer will come with Windows 10, and in many cases you’ll find they’re way faster and more energy efficient than your old machine.

“What can I do with my old computer?”

Well, you can always put Windows 10 on it and give it to a relative or your kids.

Or, you can get a charitable tax receipt if you donate it to RCT Ontario. They securely erase the computer, then donate it to schools in Ontario for student use.

“What would you do, Elias?”

I’ll recommend what I’ve told my clients: move to Windows 10. If your computer is more than 5 years old, upgrade to a new machine. If it’s less, try the upgrade to Windows 10 with your existing key. If you’re based in Ontario, my Squeaky Clean Computers technicians can get you upgraded, usually same-day.

Published by Elias Puurunen

Elias Puurunen is a versatile entrepreneur and President of Northern HCI Solutions Inc., an IT consulting firm which has worked with Fortune 500 companies, governments, and startups. He has spoken at conferences in Canada and the United States and has been published around the world. Part of his work led to an agreement between the Canadian Government and Siemens Canada, creating jobs and investment into green infrastructure. His company's event management app, the Tractus Event Passport connects people at conferences, seminars and symposiums across Canada. Today he is a consultant and advisor to technology firms and government organizations. He lectures at the University of Waterloo on Coding for Policy Analysis for the School of Public Policy. He is the author of Beyond Passwords: Secure Your Business, a cyber-security book for small business owners.

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