Windows 7 is without doubt one of the greatest issues Microsoft ever launched. The much-adored working system wooed again customers who reviled the disappointing Windows Vista, and it remained a snug refuge throughout the even bleaker Windows 8 period.
Even as we speak, with Windows 10 fixing Windows 8’s worst errors and standing as an excellent desktop working system of its personal, a legion of vocal PC fanatics swears by Windows 7. Why? Because it stays out of your approach, and it simply works.
Until as we speak. On January 14, 2020, Microsoft ends Windows 7’s prolonged help. Windows 7 is lifeless.
Your PC will preserve working, after all. Microsoft isn’t actually pulling the plug in your units. But Windows 7 received’t obtain any extra updates or safety patches, that means your PC will even be very susceptible to all these nasty malware packages garnering headlines seemingly day by day. If you retain utilizing Windows 7—and over 1 / 4 of all computer systems run it, per NetMarketShare—you’re by yourself, and the Internet can get nasty.
We can assist you keep as protected as doable, although.
Sticking with Windows 7 isn’t an possibility
Seriously: Switch away from Windows 7 by no matter means needed. That’s our underlying suggestion. Sticking with Windows 7 was comprehensible earlier than; now it’s a legal responsibility. With no safety updates and a still-vast market share, Microsoft’s working system can be a giant, juicy goal for hackers.
We suggest migrating to Windows 10 if you happen to’re in a position to, and have a guide explaining your Windows 10 upgrade options. If you carry out solely primary duties in your PC—e-mail, net browsing, and paperwork—then Linux is a viable, user-friendly possibility today. We’ve acquired a Linux beginner’s guide, too, and higher but you possibly can attempt it free of charge with no danger to your fundamental Windows 7 set up.
But if it’s essential to bide a while earlier than making a swap, right here’s the best way to preserve Windows 7 as protected as doable.
Don’t use Internet Explorer…
…or Edge, Microsoft’s newest browser, although you in all probability aren’t utilizing that anyway.
Plenty of malware will get delivered by way of browser vulnerabilities, and a number of these can be geared toward Windows 7 now that it’s large open to assault. Microsoft’s ending help for Internet Explorer too, and also you positively don’t wish to run an unsecured browser on an unsecured working system.
The different prime browser distributors will proceed to help Windows 7, nonetheless. Google’s Chrome is well-liked, however Opera beat it out in our best web browser comparison, and Firefox is nice, too (bear in mind to update Firefox to avoid a recently revealed vulnerability). Switch to a kind of—any will do, actually—and ensure to allow computerized updates to maintain these hatches battened down. This must be a prime precedence.
Choose your software program properly
That segues to a key level: Make positive the software program you’re utilizing nonetheless helps Windows 7, in order that any potential safety holes nonetheless get patched.
After browser vulnerabilities, poisoned Office paperwork are one other frequent assault vector. If you’re nonetheless utilizing Office 2007, cease—its help ended years in the past. Office 2010 will continue to receive security updates through October 13, so you could have somewhat time there. Microsoft will really proceed to help Office 2010 for the following three years (till January, 2023) if you happen to subscribe to Office 365. If that is not in your finances, take a look at our checklist of the best free Microsoft Office alternatives for different no-cost choices, equivalent to LibreOffice and Google Docs.
Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader are generally focused as nicely, so be sure they’re updated if you happen to want them. You may not, although. I used to be in a position to live my online life surprisingly well with out them seven lengthy years in the past, and it’s even simpler as we speak, although it’s hard to replace some of the meatier features in Reader. Kick Flash and Java to the curb and solely set up them if wanted. They’re of their twilight years.
Audit all of your put in software program, together with browser plug-ins. If you don’t use it, ditch it. Many standalone packages provide an choice to replace mechanically to newer variations as they’re pushed out. Activate it.
Install antivirus software program
The free antivirus that Microsoft affords for Windows customers works nice for many customers, however it received’t obtain updates now that Windows 7 is end-of-life. Yes, Windows Security Essentials is dead too. Now that your working system received’t obtain safety patches it’s much more essential to run safety in your PC. That expired model of McAfee that got here together with your laptop isn’t going to chop it.
An activated model may, although there are higher choices. Most safety suites will proceed to help Windows 7 for some time, and our information to the best antivirus suites for Windows can assist you discover the best choice. While you possibly can cobble together an arsenal of free security tools, we suggest shopping for a premium model if you happen to’re nonetheless working Windows 7. Modern safety suites do way more than antivirus alone, defending you in opposition to phishing, malicious advertisements, browser and e-mail assaults, and extra. If you’re working an unsupported working system, investing in a rounded-out safety suite is cash nicely spent.
Norton Security Premium is the very best decide for most individuals proper now, however you could have choices. Again, take a look at our guide to the best antivirus to see all the safety product’s we’ve examined. Be positive to verify your chosen program’s Windows 7 help cycle before you purchase, although. (Norton nonetheless works with Windows XP, even!)
Batten down the hatches
Hackers can’t hack what they will’t contact. Follow this professional tip from our old Windows XP safety primer:
“Barring being purely disconnected, if there’s a single tip that might make any Windows PC safer, it’s this: Stay away from administrator accounts. If you’re blasted by malware, it may well solely do as a lot harm because the account it infects. Admin accounts give baddies the keys to your computing kingdom.
Once [Windows 7] stops being patched, follow utilizing a Standard account on your day-to-day actions if in any respect doable. Use an admin account to create the locked-down login and inventory it with the software program you want—preserving our earlier program recommendation in thoughts—after which don’t stray from Limited land until it’s essential to set up or replace software program. (And even then, solely stick within the admin account for so long as is totally essential to get the set up carried out.)”
You can go even additional although. If your Windows 7 laptop doesn’t want to connect with the Internet, bodily disconnect it from the Internet. Pull the ethernet plug proper out, or disable Wi-Fi.
Alternatively, if you happen to solely want legacy Windows 7 help for a program or two, you possibly can run Windows 7 in a digital machine on a contemporary, supported working system, be it Windows 10 or some taste of Linux. (Again, shifting off of Windows 7 as a lot as doable must be the objective.) If the digital machine will get compromised, you possibly can simply wipe it and begin over, with no hurt to your fundamental set up. Just be sure you’re backing up the Windows 7 information so you possibly can change no matter’s misplaced.
Even with all these precautions in place, your PC can get pwned if you happen to inform malware to come back in. Use safe browsing practices to keep away from being fooled into downloading malware by phishing makes an attempt, malicious emails, faux updates and error warnings, drive-by downloads or different tomfoolery.
Make plans to maneuver on
Windows 7 was nice whereas it lasted, however now it’s gone. While the following tips will assist you preserve utilizing the working system for longer, working an unsecured OS in as we speak’s hyper-connected world is inviting bother. Start fascinated by your future choices, whether or not it’s snagging a free Linux distro, paying for a Windows 10 upgrade, or straight-up buying a new Chromebook or Windows laptop. When the following catastrophic bug rears its head, you don’t wish to be left within the lurch.
Be cautious on the market.