Windows 7 was undoubtedly one of the best Windows versions that Microsoft had ever come up with.
After it emerged in 2008, it brought users back who were disappointed by Windows Vista, and it had a good run even after that.
Many stuck with it even after the next versions came out, including Windows 8 and Windows 10.
However, it has been almost 12 years since it originally came out, and Microsoft finally decided that it is time to say goodbye to it.
On January 14th, 2020, the company stopped working on the Windows 7 OS, and if you're one of those still using it, then you'll no longer be receiving updates or support.
It goes without saying that you should be upgrading, but if for some reason you must stick with Windows 7 for the time being, here are our top tips to stay as secure as possible.
1) Avoid Internet Explorer
If you are a fan of the ‘good old days,' and you plan to stick with old, outdated Microsoft products such as Internet Explorer – and Windows 7 itself – we have to advise against it.
Internet Explorer (IE) has been an outdated browser for years now, and even Microsoft doesn't recommend using it anymore.
The company created a better version several years back, which you might know as Microsoft Edge.
Edge is not a bad choice if you still wish to experience that IE feeling, but it is much faster, safer, and it still receives support.
Of course, it might simply be time to switch to another browser entirely, and some of the safest ones are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Opera.
For an even more secure experience, check out Brave, an up and coming browser that is making waves.
While we understand that you might be comfortable with your old browser and system, safety must come first, and the fact is that some older browsers are not all that safe anymore.
2) Be careful when installing software
While Windows 7 is no longer supported, some of the software that you may be using is still compatible with it.
However, that means that you must take extra care to only use software that still supports it; otherwise, you might have some additional security holes to worry about.
That means that using software such as Office 2007 needs to stop as well, as the company stopped supporting it years ago.
If you are a fan of Office 2010, you still have a bit more than half a year to enjoy it, as its support will continue until October.
However, we would recommend switching to Office 365, so that you can slowly get used to the version that will last for years to come.
Some other software that you should consider eliminating includes Flash, Java, and even Adobe Reader.
The same is valid for browser plugins, and more.
You need to do a bit of research when it comes to software that you are using to enhance your experience. Remember that change is necessary for the sake of security, and it is usually not a bad thing.
Whatever you do, make sure you install any recommended updates as soon as they are available – don't ignore them until ‘later'.
3) Make sure that you have an antivirus
As you may know, Microsoft provides its users with a free antivirus which usually works great for most people who keep their OS and their software up to date.
However, with Windows 7 losing support, the same is true for its Windows Security Essentials.
You are now using a system that will never again receive an update, and the first new vulnerability that gets detected by hackers will result in an entire wave of breaches.
Virus and malware infections are happening all too often as it is, but that doesn't mean that you should make the hackers' job easier for them.
Get a new regularly updated antivirus, one that will be capable of protecting you. Some of the top choices include:
- Trend Micro
4) Secure extended security updates for businesses
Another thing that you may choose to do is to switch to Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise editions.
These can continue receiving the so-called ESUs, or Extended Security Upgrades.
They will last for an additional three years, and they are usually meant for businesses that cannot switch to a new OS as easily as an individual user.
This solution is meant to ensure enough time for businesses to switch to a more recent version of Windows, preferably Windows 10.
You should be aware that these are paid updates, and while they were created for large businesses, in theory, a company of any size can use them, as long as you can pay for them.
However, as an individual, this probably isn't a solution for you.
5) Make the Linux move
Of course, if you feel like getting the most secure OS for your computer, you might want to consider switching from Windows to Linux.
To put it quite honestly, this will be a significant change, as Linux operates differently, but it is nothing that you cannot learn in a matter of days.
So, while it might take some getting used to, Linux is a much better option than sticking with Windows 7, especially if you have some reason for disliking fresher versions of Windows, such as 8 or 10.
Besides, Linux OS is open-source, and most open-source OSs are entirely free.
One excellent option to consider is Ubuntu Desktop, which serves as an excellent entry point.
Alternatively, if you want something similar to Windows 7 as possible, you should also check out Plasma.
However, note that you won't be able to keep many of the same apps that you may have used on Windows, especially when it comes to default or proprietary apps that come with the system.
If you're interested in making the move to open-sourced, often free software then now is the time to give Linux a whirl.
Summary: You can't stick with Windows 7
Windows 7 is gone, and it is time for all of us to accept it.
Of course, your PC will continue working, no one from Microsoft will come to your door to personally uninstall it.
However, any piece of software out there requires constant updates, patches, bug fixes, and alike, and your PC running Windows 7 is no exception.
So, sadly, it's time to ditch that old operating system and make the upgrade.
Not only will your system function better but it'll also remain secure into the foreseeable future, which is a critical component of safe device usage these days.
Have you put any other tips into practice? I would love to know so drop me a comment in the section below.
Illustration © MethMehr | Dreamstime.com