Don’t Wait to Update

It seems that almost every time you use your computer, you get a message that a software update is ready to install. While these notices can be annoying, they’re also crucial for your computer’s health.

When developers fix a bug or develop a security patch, they push it out through these updates. Installing them helps protect your computer from viruses and malware.

From time to time software companies stop providing support for a product so they can focus their resources on more recent technologies. The latest example is that Microsoft will stop issuing security updates to its Windows XP operating system on April 8 and will end nearly all technical support as well.

What’s the threat?

Computers that run Windows XP will still work after April 8, but they will be vulnerable to viruses, malware and other security threats because Microsoft will no longer be addressing major holes in the software.

Microsoft’s research shows that Windows XP, released 12 years ago, is five times more susceptible to viruses and cyber attacks than Windows 8, its newest operating system.

What should I do?

Forrester Research estimates that 6 percent of companies’ PCs are still using Windows XP. If that’s what you use at home or at work, you should upgrade to another operating system.

  • Windows 8 is the latest, fully redesigned Microsoft OS, but most older computers won’t be able to upgrade.
  • Windows 7 is still available and offers a more familiar PC experience than Windows 8. It will be supported until 2020.

Unfortunately, not updating your operating system isn’t a viable option because the risks compound over time. As one security expert said, “It’s like expired milk. If you drink it one day after it expires, you’re OK. But after a month, the risk is exponentially greater.”

Updating the software may require an upgrade in hardware as well. If a computer is running Windows XP, it’s probably at least a few years old and could stand to be replaced anyway. On average, small businesses spend more than $400 on repairs for PCs that are four years or older.

And once you’re on a new version of the operating system, be sure to pay attention to those software update alerts. Keeping everything up to date will help your computer run more smoothly and protect all of the information it stores.

Tonia Turner can be reached at 865-766-3016 or by email at [email protected].

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