If you’re still using Windows 7, it’s time to take action. Are you planning to upgrade, or will you take another path?
Are you one of the 28% of Windows users who’s still running Windows 7?
If so, it’s time to bite the bullet and make plans to either upgrade your existing computer or treat yourself to a new one.
That’s because Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7 on January 14. This means no more new features, and most importantly, no more security updates.
Moving from Windows 7 to 10: download our guide (.pdf, 3mb)
This doesn’t mean that a Windows 7 PC will suddenly stop working on January 14, but it does mean that it’s increasingly unsafe to use online: regular security updates keep devices safe from online threats.
The risks of unprotected PCs
For anyone tempted to think that they’re not at risk, it’s worth noting that according to the security firm Symantec, one in 10 URLs are malicious, 4,800 websites on average are compromised by having hackers add formjacking code to them each month, while one in 3,207 emails is a phishing attempt.
it’s clear that having an unprotected PC puts you at risk – and it puts others at risk, too.
A PC that isn’t protected against new and emerging threats risks being co-opted by malware to become part of a botnet that can be used by cyber-criminals to carry out attacks, such as the one that crippled the internet on both sides of the Atlantic in 2016.
The good news is that even quite old PCs can be upgraded to Windows 10, and we’ve got a guide to the system requirements.
It’s also possible you could still upgrade for free: we tested this method back in September and managed to upgrade a Windows 7 computer without having to pay for a new Windows 10 licence (although we can’t promise it will continue to work).
Yet despite all the warnings from Microsoft, independent security experts and our own Which? Tech Support team, the statistics show that a worryingly high number of people are still using Windows 7.
Even more alarmingly, there are still some out there using Windows XP!
What to do if your PC won’t take an upgrade
If you do want to carry on using it, you could try installing a different operating system if you’re feeling brave…
The most common alternative operating system is Linux, which is free to download, install and use. Because it’s open-source, there are a number of different versions, or ‘distros’, developed and maintained by the enthusiast community.
One of the most user-friendly distros is called Mint, and there are a number of helpful guides online to get you started with it. Another popular distro is Ubuntu, which is similarly well-supported with online guides.
Alternatively you could re-purpose your Windows 7 PC as a Chromebook by installing Chrome OS.
If you’re determined to keep using Windows 7, you’ll first need to make sure it doesn’t go online again.
Once you’ve taken it offline, you could fill up its hard drive with your videos and use it as a storage device plugged into your TV via an HDMI cable, or you could carry on using it for writing and spreadsheets etc, which will be safe so long as you don’t connect it to the internet.
Moving on from Windows 7
Just going to get rid of it? Make sure you dispose of it sustainably and securely.
If you’re still using a Windows 7 PC, are you planning to upgrade, either to Windows 10 or to a whole new PC?
And if you’re planning on holding out and sticking with Windows 7, are you worried about the threat from malware? Let us know what you’re doing in the comments below.