Windows 7 End of Life: Is it time to update your Windows computers?

windows 7 security risks

On January 14, 2020, Microsoft officially discontinued its 10-year-old operating system, Windows 7. According to Microsoft,

“If you continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended, your PC will still work, but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses because you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft.”

Let’s break this statement down.
What are the “security risks and viruses” you’re taking on?  An outdated, unsupported operating system makes you an easy target for ransomware attacks. Imagine a hacker locks you out of your entire system until you meet their demands. This was the case during the devastating “WannaCry” ransomware attack in 2017. 

To protect its users, Microsoft released regular security updates that would patch the bugs hackers could exploit. They go into the software’s source code, make the necessary changes, and deliver a new version to you via download. Standard Windows 7 users will no longer receive updates of any kind. However, Windows Enterprise, Windows Pro, and Microsoft 365 customers are able to purchase extended security updates. This program is priced per device and is only meant to bridge the gap to an upgrade. 

Furthermore, Microsoft won’t offer technical assistance or customer service if you have issues with your Windows 7 machine. Issues are more likely to arise since bugs aren’t actively addressed.

So what can you upgrade to? There are a couple of options:

windows 7 end of life upgrade

Purchase a new computer with Windows 10 Installed

The easiest thing to do is purchase a brand new PC with Windows 10 already installed. There are a variety of PCs available for any budget. Even the less expensive models will most likely run better than your current machine. 

The main consideration with this option is transferring your files to the new computer. This a relatively simple task using an external hard drive or a cloud storage platform like Dropbox. As for your applications, you will have to go to the developer’s website and download a Windows 10 version which may or may not cost you.

Purchase Windows 10 for your current PC

If your hardware is capable, you can purchase a Windows 10 license and download it to your current PC –replacing Windows 7. Right now, Microsoft is selling Windows 10 Pro (recommended for small businesses) for $199.99. You may be able to find a deal at third-party retailers. Keep in mind, that’s $200 per device if you have more than one PC to update.

Your files will remain on your computer with this method, but it never hurts to create a back-up before you install the new operating system. You may have to re-download your applications with Windows 10 versions.

These are the minimum specifications to run Windows 10, but it doesn’t guarantee it will run well:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC.
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.
  • Display: 800 x 600 resolution
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS, 20 GB for 64-bit OS.

How to find computer specs in Windows 7:

To see your Processor and RAM specs:

  • Click the “Start” button in the lower-left corner of your screen.
  • Right-click the “Computer” icon and select the “Properties” option.

To see our Graphics card specs:

  • Click “Device Manager”
  • Click the dropdown next to “Display Adapters”.

To see your Display specs:

  • Click the Start button
  • Click “Display”
  • Click “Adjust display settings”

To see your Hard disk space:

  • Click the Start button, followed by “Computer”
  • Make sure “Computer” is selected on the menu to the right.
  • See your storage displayed in a bar.

Recommended specs would be at least a 2GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM (8GB ideally) and a 160GB hard drive.

What to do next…

  • Create a back-up of your current files. It will be needed if your PC suffers from outdated software and when you upgrade.
  • Skip Windows 8. While it appears to be a cheaper option, support will not last long enough to make the update cost-effective.

Questions about your current OS and how you can upgrade it? Ask us at [email protected].