Hopefully, you've already upgraded your operating system to Windows 10 if you're a Windows user. However, if you are in the 39% of people who still use Windows 7 you'll need to prepare for the inevitable end. On January 14th, 2020, Microsoft will discontinue all support, security patches, and updates for Windows 7. Luckily, Microsoft isn't leaving users in the dark and back in March of this year, provided an optional update that would regularly remind users to upgrade their operating system. If you happened to opt-out of the update, here is a reminder that 2020 is here and it's become more vital than ever that any users of Windows 7 upgrade or switch operating systems before the end of life arrives.
Yes, Windows 7 is very popular and many people can't seem to let it go. Yes, your computer will still work even once January 14th hits. However, continued use of Windows 7 will leave your computer extremely high-risk for viruses and other cyber threats. Hackers know this, and the large number of people still using Windows 7 will most certainly be targeted. Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10, but that isn't your only option.
Upgrading to Windows 10
This will probably be the path of least resistance, although it's not cheap. You'll have to buy the license for Windows 10. (Microsoft charges about $140 for the home version) If you're using older hardware though, it may also be time to upgrade or buy a new PC altogether. The minimum specifications for Windows 10 are as follows:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC.
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.
- Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS.
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.
- Display: 800 x 600 resolution
If your PC doesn't meet these requirements, it might be time to treat yourself to a new rig. Also, don't be tempted to just move over to Windows 8, that operating system will soon reach its own end of life, and if we're being honest, it's not nearly as good as Windows 10.
Switching to Linux
This may seem intimidating. Maybe you've heard of Linux and think it's an operating system that only tech snobs can get into. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth. Linux will likely be your most cost-effective option, although it would take some getting used to and there are many different versions known as Distributions or Distros. You can always research which ones will be best for your own specific needs and uses. The good sides are that you can be sure it will always have the latest security updates and patches, as it's maintained by a community of developers. Most versions are also free, although you can donate to support the developers. Downsides include losing access to some of your favorite apps including Microsoft Office, however, Linux offers many user-friendly alternatives. If you do choose to go that route, it's recommended that you do it quickly so you can get used to it before the final days of Windows 7 arrive.
Switching to Mac
Maybe you're thinking of switching over to Apple's world of computers. You should know this is by far your most expensive option, as Apple products are notoriously pricey, however, it may be worth the investment because Macs tend to have a long lifespan. Switching from PC to Mac will also take some getting used to but Macs are relatively user-friendly.
No matter if you're switching or upgrading, be sure to back up all your files. Even if you're just upgrading to Windows 10, which will automatically transfer your files, have a backup just in case. With the growing number of cyberthreats out in the world, we have to evolve with our technology. Even if it's difficult. Windows 7's end of life is drawing near, so if you haven't made a change yet, what will you decide to do?
- I already have Windows 10 - Way to go! If you know anyone who still uses Windows 7, encourage them to find an alternative soon.
- I'm getting Windows 10 - You can read up on how to get to know your upgraded operating system
- I'm switching to Linux - Need help choosing between the best Linux distros of 2019? look no further.
- I'm switching to Mac - Here's an article on the best Macs to buy in 2019
- I'm not sure - If you're still not sure what to do then here's an even more comprehensive article that covers everything we discussed in greater detail so you can get all the information you need to decide!
Written by Elizabeth Dasenbrock
Elizabeth Dasenbrock is a marketer/graphic designer whose mission has always been to creatively express stories and ideas. Her skill set allows her to convey concepts to particular audiences in a visually appealing way. At Techguard Security she works on the marketing team with a focus on graphic design. In her free time, she can usually be found working on personal creative projects, tending to her houseplants, or spending time with friends and family.