You shouldn’t use Windows XP. If you do, your computer could be being used by criminals to send spam and hack other sites. Let me explain.
All software is imperfect and has flaws. These flaws are called bugs (Read this to see why). Updates are released periodically by the makers of software to fix these bugs, making the software work better.
Some of the bugs in software are simply annoying, kind of like a typo in a novel you might read. It makes you pause while your are reading, but it doesn’t prevent you from understanding the story.
Other bugs are security threats. This is more like when you lose your keys or your wallet. It’s a real pain if you don’t find them because then you need to change your locks or get new credit cards.
Software companies only support their software for a limited period of time. As they release new versions of their software, it becomes harder to support multiple versions. So they eventually stop supporting the older versions.
An operating system is the software that runs your computer. If you use a Mac, your operating system (OS) is likely Apple OS X. If you are using a PC, you are most likely using some version of Windows. Windows has gone through many versions over the years. The latest version is Windows 10.
Windows XP was released in 2001. It was supported for over 12 years (that is a very long time!). Support and security patches ended on April 8, 2014. That means that any bugs, including security bugs, that were found after that date will no longer be fixed. So if you are currently running Windows XP on your computer, your computer is at a high risk of being compromised in some way (e.g. getting a virus or becoming part of a botnet).
If your are currently using Windows XP, there are two things you can do to use your computer more safely:
- Upgrade your computer to a version of Windows that is supported, like Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Windows 10 (there is no Windows 9)
- Install a free open source operating system like Ubuntu, a flavor of the Linux operating system
If you are looking to choose number 1, you will most likely need to buy a newer computer. It is very likely that your computer hardware is too old and slow to run a newer version of Windows. To determine if this is your situation, you can go to Best Buy and ask the Geek Squad or call your local computer tech guy for help. You can also contact me. I’d be happy to help you.
If you choose to go with choice 2, you can almost certainly use the computer hardware you currently have. You will still likely need help installing the new operating system without losing any of your data. You can go to the same sources as choice 1 for help, including me.
Next week I will go over why you might want to consider using open source software even if you don’t need to upgrade from Windows XP.