When Windows Update prompts you to install a new version it’s because Microsoft have released fixes to potential and discovered exploits. Remember the WannaCry Ransomware attack of 2017 that breached the NHS? A Windows Update was all we needed to stop being vulnerable, so yes, updates are incredibly important.
Viruses, ransomware, rootkits and dozens of other cyber-attacks seem to make the news very regularly, especially in recent years. With scam threats on the rise and everyone being stuck at home on their computers, we’ve been in a hacker’s playground for quite some time.
The first line of defence should be to update your machine. When Microsoft finds backdoors or potentially risky code (exploits) they respond very quickly. Typically within days of an exploit being discovered, you can update your computer and no longer need to worry. Obviously a good Antivirus and Firewall can’t be overlooked, but for the widespread/common attacks, you can usually rely on Windows itself to be safe.
When configured properly, your computer should check for updates and install them in the background automatically. Many of us have a tendency to disable this feature though, with the fear of things changing without our knowledge, or having to wait 10 minutes to turn on our systems, staring at the words “Configuring updates. Please do not turn off your computer”.
In current versions, Windows is very good at staying out of the way. It’s rarely invasive, and usually installs updates when powering down, as to not impact your work. Considering the security and compatibility benefits of being up-to-date, it’s definitely worth it.
Updates typically include security patches, drivers, bug fixes, or performance and stability improvements.
Older versions of operating systems have their support discontinued eventually. When there’s so few people using such an old version, there’s really no reason for Microsoft to use so many resources and staff keeping it fresh and functional. It’s free game when hackers find exploits after this point.
Windows XP support ended in 2014, Vista in 2019, and Windows 7 in 2020. This makes Windows 8.1 and 10 the only reasonable choices for new systems and businesses. Windows 10, being the newest, is usually the only platform offered to new users (we like to pretend Windows 8 didn’t even happen).
As well as Microsoft walking away, companies that make software for these operating systems will let go too. You’ll only find the most up-to-date version of Google Chrome on Windows 8.1 and 10.
Between nostalgia, comfortability and sheer laziness, changing to an entirely new version of Windows can be a little daunting, and a little too easy to procrastinate. Personally, I used Windows 7 for a full decade before upgrading.
Be warned though, usage beyond the end-of-life date inherently takes on a lot of risks, as mentioned before. One weak entry point means nothing you do or store on your computer is as safe as you’d probably like it to be.
If you’re using Windows 7, or older, it’s time to update.
You can easily check if you’re up to date as well as the update settings by clicking the ‘Windows’ icon on the bottom left of your screen. Then type ‘Update’ and click on the top option ‘Check for Updates’ just like this…
Of course at work it’s going to be a nightmare checking all your computers and servers every week. So talk to us about our Guardian Managed IT Service where we monitor and manage these security updates (and lots more too) for you.
If you need help with Windows Updates or want us to manage your IT for you give us a call on 03333 055 055.
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