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Support for Windows 7 is slowly but surely coming to an end


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The Dead of Windows 7
It already start in January 2020, then Microsoft will stop the update service (apart from a few companies that buy additional support very dearly). This means that security patches will no longer be made available. Thus, over time, more and more publicly known security gaps remain open.

If such an operating system were to continue to operate on the Internet or in general data exchange with it, one would run a steadily increasing risk that third parties could gain control of such systems in the course of mass exploitation of known security gaps (e.g. using exploit kits) by - taking advantage of these existing security gaps - infect with malware.

From this it follows, for example, that such systems are then integrated into so-called botnets for the criminal activities of third parties. Further concrete consequences can be the reading out of all data on the system and the data carriers connected to it, or even encryption of this data for the purpose of extorting ransom.

The interesting data read out includes e-mail addresses, so that, for example, the person concerned and all entries in their own address book or even all previous communication partners are “happy” with spam and malware e-mails. Identity theft and criminal follow-up actions such as triangular fraud are also a scenario that can result from this.

You don't have to do online banking to be of interest to attackers who also use software “tools” suitable for the masses in order to automatically exploit security gaps on systems that are connected to the Internet, and thereby bring these systems under their control bring.

In addition, Windows 7, apart from the security updates, has not received any function updates / improvements for years . This means that security functions that have been integrated into more modern operating systems over time (such as EMET in Windows 10) are not even available in Windows 7.

However, the security functions are at least as important as updates / patches, i.e. "patching" for specific security gaps that have been identified, as well as user knowledge and user behavior, as a result of which, of course, the measures taken by the user (e.g. software selection and configuration, performing regular backups, etc).

The overall security of a system is shown on the basis of several pillars, not just one.

 

What does this mean in consequence?

Windows 7 users will have to prepare for a system change soon at the latest. There is still enough time for this (as of now approx. Eight months) so that you are not "surprised" in January 2020 by not having to go through security patches or even deliberately ignoring this fact.

Here are some important points about the appropriate procedure.
1. Before you start, make sure that you first create backups if you don't always do this regularly anyway. Backups, i.e. external data backups in multiple copies, are always important, regardless of system updates.

This means that if you only created it in the course of such a system renewal, you missed it in the rest of the time. And that is bad because there is a risk of data loss at any time ( hardware, i.e. hard drives (HDD, SSD / NVMe / SSM) can break at any time ; many users also do not pay attention to good system security at the software and behavior level, and thus risk Losing data through encryption / blackmail trojans (so-called ransomware ).

The following are at least recommended as backups:
a) A complete data storage (including text documents, photos, videos, e-mails, browser favorites, address books, etc.) in addition to two different external data carriers (“copy” always means “copy” and not “cut”) /Insert"!)
b) Creating backup images, i.e. complete images of the built-in hard drive, and storing them on external data storage devices as well. This means that in the event of a problem, the original functioning state (with all settings) of an entire system can be restored very quickly.
In general, it makes sense to have a bootable live / emergency start system available in the drawer on a USB stick that is only provided and set up for this purpose! Then you simply start the system from the USB stick, select the backup image to be restored from there, and can thus quickly restore it even if the actual operating system no longer starts.
c) When you have created these backups, please disconnect all connected backup media (external hard drives, USB sticks, memory cards, etc.) from the system, but first click on your operating system to safely remove the individual data storage media. Only then do you pull them out of their slots on the computer.

2. Find your license keys together if you haven't already filed them in an orderly manner. You may need them all again after you've updated your computer to a new operating system.

In any case, the original Windows 7 license key, with which you ultimately activate Windows 10, is required. As before, it is still possible in practice to update to Windows 10 free of charge with a legal Windows 7 key. How long this will be possible cannot be predicted. The sooner you upgrade, the better.

3. In the course of updating the operating system, it can also make sense to install a new hardware component, specifically an SSD instead of a conventional mechanical hard drive. This gives even older devices new momentum for further operation and makes them more pleasant to use. Of course, this is not an obligation in the course of this, but if you value operation as smoothly as possible, you can check this option for yourself.

However, there is another reason for this suggestion: You could install the new operating system on the new SSD without affecting the old installation on the existing hard drive. For one or the other, this may be an additional "reassurance" in the course of the changeover.

 

After these preparations (backups, license keys, hardware renewal if necessary) have been completed, you can decide on a new operating system that will replace Windows 7 in the future.

If you want to keep the existing computer, you currently have the following options:

  • You install Windows 8.1, for example if you still have a free license available. Support is available here until January 10, 2023.
  • However, it is better to upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge with the existing Windows 7 key. This has the advantage that you always benefit from further developments, especially in the area of protection against malware, and also receive security updates as long as possible.
  • If you use older, weaker hardware, if you don't want to use Microsoft / Windows anymore, etc., you can install a Linux distribution. Nowadays they are very easy to use and therefore easy to use even for users who previously used Windows.

Of course, you have to deal with the differences and innovations compared to Windows, but since there are also many points that make it easier (e.g. program installations simply via the package management), a change does not have to be difficult.

Examples are:

  1. Lubuntu
  2. Xubuntu
  3. Ubuntu
  4. Ubuntu Mate
  5. Linux Mint
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