Windows 7 is one of the best things Microsoft has ever released. The much-praised operating system haunted users who taunt the disappointing Windows Vista, and it remained a comfortable retreat during the even gloomy Windows 8 era.
Even today, with Windows 10 repairing the worst errors of Windows 8 and standing as an excellent desktop proprietary operating system, a legion of vocal PC enthusiasts swears by Windows 7. Why? Because it stays out of the way and it just works.
Until today. On January 14, 2020, Microsoft ends the extensive support of Windows 7. Windows 7 is dead.
Your PC will of course continue to work. Microsoft does not literally pull the plug from your devices. But Windows 7 no longer receives updates or security patches, which means that your PC is also very vulnerable to all those annoying malware programs that seem to be in the news every day. If you continue to use Windows 7 ̵
We can help you stay as safe as possible.
Holding on to Windows 7 is not an option
Seriously: switch away from Windows 7 in any way. That is our underlying recommendation. Sticking to Windows 7 was understandable; now it's a liability. Without security updates and a still huge market share, the Microsoft operating system will be a big, juicy target for hackers.
We recommend migrating to Windows 10 if you can, and have a guide explaining your Windows 10 upgrade options. If you only perform basic tasks on your PC (e-mail, web surfing and documents), then Linux is nowadays a viable, user-friendly option. We also have a Linux beginner's guide, and even better, you can try it for free without risk to your most important Windows 7 installation. You can probably still upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
But if you have to wait a while before making a switch, you can keep Windows 7 as safe as possible.
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Firefox is a secure modern browser that still supports Windows 7.
Firefox is a secure modern browser that still supports Windows 7.
Much malware is delivered through browser vulnerabilities, many of which will now be directed to Windows 7 that it is wide open for attacks, and Microsoft is also ending Internet Explorer support, and you certainly does not want to run an unsecured browser on an unsecured operating system.
However, the other top browser server buyers continue to support Windows 7. Google & # 39; s Chrome is popular, but Opera beats it in our best web browser comparison, and Firefox is also great (don't forget to update Firefox to e and recent vulnerability prevention). Switch to one of those options – quite frankly – and make sure that automatic updates are enabled to keep those shutters closed. This should be a top priority.
Choose your software wisely
That comes to one important point: make sure that the software you use still supports Windows 7, so that potential vulnerabilities are still patched.
After browser vulnerabilities, poisoned Office documents are another frequent attack vector. If you are still using Office 2007, stop: the support ended years ago. Office 2010 continues to receive security updates until October 13, so you have some time there. Microsoft will continue to support Office 2010 for the next three years (until January 2023) if you subscribe to Office 365. If that's not within your budget, check out our list of the best free Microsoft Office alternatives to other free options, such as LibreOffice and Google Docs.
Java, Flash and Adobe Reader are also often used, so make sure they are up-to-date when you need them. But maybe not. I was able to lead my online life surprisingly well seven years ago without them, and it is even easier today, although it is difficult to replace some of the more meaty features in Reader. Kick Flash and Java to the curb and install them only when needed. They are in their twilight years.
Audit all your installed software, including browser plug-ins. If you don't use it, throw it away. Many stand-alone programs offer an option to automatically update to newer versions when they are removed. Activate it.
Install antivirus software
The free antivirus that Microsoft offers for Windows users works great for most users, but it does not receive updates now Windows 7 is at the end of its life. Yes, Windows Security Essentials is also dead. Now that your operating system does not receive security patches, it is even more important to implement security on your PC. The expired version of McAfee that came with your computer is not going to work.
An activated version could, although there are better options. Most security suites continue to support Windows 7 for a while, and our guide to the best antivirus suites for Windows can help you find your best option. Although you can approve an arsenal of free security tools together, we recommend that you purchase a premium version if you are still using Windows 7. Modern security suites do much more than just antivirus, protect you against phishing, malicious advertisements, browser and email attacks, and more. If you use an unsupported operating system, investing in a completed security package is money well spent.
Norton Security Premium is currently the best choice for most people, but you have options. Again, view our guide to the best antivirus to view all the security products that we have tested. However, check the support cycle of your chosen program before purchasing. (Norton still works with Windows XP, even!)
Close the shutters
Hackers can't hack what they can't touch. Follow this pro-tip from our old Windows XP security primer:
"Except for pure disconnection, if there is a single tip that can make any Windows PC safer, this is it: stay away If you are blasted by malware, it can only do as much damage as the account it infects. Management accounts give bad guys the keys to your computer kingdom.
As soon as [Windows 7] stops patching, hold on to a use standard account for your daily activities, if possible Use an administrator account to create the locked login and save it with the software you need – taking into account our previous program advice – and do not get away from Limited country unless you need to install or update software. (And even then, stay only in the administrator account as long as it is absolutely necessary to complete the installation.) "
However, you can go further. If your Windows 7 computer does not have to connect to the Internet, physically disconnect it from the Internet. Pull the Ethernet plug straight out or switch off Wi-Fi.
Alternatively, if you only need older Windows 7 support for one or two programs, you can run Windows 7 on a virtual machine on a modern, supported operating system, the Windows 10 or a little Linux. (Again, the goal should be to move away from Windows 7 as much as possible.) If the virtual machine is compromised, you can simply delete it and start over, without damaging your main installation. Just make sure you back up the Windows 7 data so that you can replace what is lost.
Even with all these precautions, your PC can be planted if you tell malware to come in. Use secure browsing practices to prevent you from being misled into downloading malware through phishing attempts, malicious emails, fake updates and error warnings, drive-by downloads, or other tomfoolery.
It is not specific to Windows 7 security, but make sure you back up your data and also use a password manager.
Make plans to continue on
Windows 7 was great while it lasted, but now it's gone. Although these tips help you to continue using the operating system for longer, it is a problem to use an unsecured operating system in today's hyper-connected world. Start thinking about your future options, whether it's a free Linux distro, a free Windows 10 upgrade, or immediately buy a new Chromebook or Windows laptop. When the next catastrophic bug comes up, you don't want to be abandoned.
Be careful there.