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Home / Tips and Tricks / Are you still using Windows 7? These security tips will protect your laptop now that support is no longer available

Are you still using Windows 7? These security tips will protect your laptop now that support is no longer available



Alienware 18 Gaming Laptop - Windows 7 DKCWX31H

Windows 7 users should take a few extra steps to protect their computer as Microsoft no longer supports this.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you are using a Microsoft laptop or desktop with Windows 7, unfortunately your security is outdated. Microsoft officially ended support for that operating system in January 2020, meaning the company will no longer provide technical assistance or software updates for your device, including security updates and patches.

The move came as part of a planned effort to get Windows 7 software and migrate Windows users to Windows 10, the more recent version of your laptop’s operating system and the one that will receive all security patches and updates from Microsoft.

(If you Windows 8.1 user, don’t worry – extended support for that operating system won’t end until January 2023.)

To reduce the risk of malware from potential bugs and software loopholes, Microsoft recommends this as well upgrade your current device to Windows 10 (you can do this for free), or buy one new Windows 10 machineBut if you really want to keep using Windows 7 for whatever reason, there are a few things you can do to keep the unsupported OS as safe as possible until you somehow upgrade to Windows 10 .

Keep your antivirus software up to date

Windows 7 has some built-in security measures, but you should also use third-party antivirus software to avoid malware attacks and other problems – especially since almost all victims of the massive WannaCry ransomware attack were Windows 7 usersHackers are likely to go after Windows 7 machines even more now that Microsoft’s support has ended.

According to the independent IT security research institute AV-Test, most major antivirus vendors have not yet ended support for Windows 7 devices. These include Symantec / NortonLifeLock, Bitdefender and Trend Micro, which CNET also recommends Antivirus for Windows 10

Read more: Everything you need to know about Windows 10 now that Windows 7 support is over


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Delete unnecessary applications and files

By removing old or unused applications and files, you can reduce your chances of an invasion of privacy. Go to to prune your programs Start> Control Panel> Programs> Programs and FeaturesSelect all the programs you want to remove and click removeThere are a few ways to browse your files, but one is to go to Start> Computer> LibrariesFrom there, choose whether you want to cycle through Documents, Pictures, Music or Videos and delete files if necessary.

Whitelist applications

To prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running on your Windows 7 machine, you can whitelist applications that you consider safe and block others (so that your banking application does not run while you are in a coffee shop, for example. are).

To whitelist applications, go to Start> Control Panel> System and SecurityBelow Windows Firewall, Click Allow a program through Windows FirewallYou will see a list of your programs and you can check a box for Public or Private network. This will determine which applications can run on which type of network. Click OK to save your settings.


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Educate yourself about phishing and ransomware attacks

Basic best practices in cybersecurity can go a long way in protecting you from attack. Always avoid opening emails, links, and attachments from people you don’t know, and carefully check senders’ email addresses to make sure they really are who they say they are.

Clicking on a malicious link or attachment could infect your computer with a virus or block your files until you pay a fee with ransomware. Switch two-factor authentication – which adds an extra layer of protection over just a password – for all of your accounts is another strong step you need to take to prevent someone from breaking in.


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Invest in a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tool that establishes a private, secure network between your Wi-Fi connected device and the websites you visit, hiding your activity and providing a private connection. A VPN is a great option for a Windows 7 machine as it keeps your data encrypted and protects you from hackers getting into your accounts when using your device in a public place.

Make sure you always avoid free VPNsFor some more advice, here are three features you should look for to identify a good VPN, as well CNET’s directory of the best VPNs available

Use a password manager

Since using Windows 7 machines now carries increased security risks, reusing passwords is no longer sufficient. Invest in a password manager that helps you create and track strong, unique passwords for each account. A few options that CNET recommends are LastPass and 1 PasswordBe here the best password managers for 2021 and how to use them

Isolate the machine from the internet and lock USB ports

This is quite extreme, but to better protect your computer, you should isolate it from the Internet and avoid using USB ports. However, this would likely make your machine less useful, and possibly unsuitable for use, said Gartner analyst Steve Kleynhans.

Ultimately, there is no way to fully protect an unsupported machine, Kleynhans said. “You need to carefully evaluate whether your efforts and money could be better spent modernizing to Windows 10 rather than continuing to support an expired platform,” he added.


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