Keep Windows XP a little longer

This page provides some basic tips for keeping your computer running on Windows XP. This is a challenge because Microsoft stopped providing updates in April 2014, so there is increasing risk of a security vulnerability. And fewer software and hardware vendors will produce products that work with XP.

Think about buying a new computer or tablet. Your XP computer is probably several years old, so there is increasing risk of hardware failure. New systems should get update patches, which makes them more secure. You are going to have to get a new computer, eventually.

It may be an option to change the operating system on your existing computer. If the hardware is up to it, you may be able to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. Linux is also an option. Changing the operating system does require some technical input, though.

If you still want to keep XP going, consider the following measures.

Backup your data

Set up a good backup regime, make sure it is working and stick to it. When something happens to your XP machine, you will need to use your backup to retrieve your data.

Updates

Install all the software updates available. XP should be at SP3. Ensure that all your other software is updated as much as possible.

Don't connect to the internet

To improve security, unplug the computer and don't use it on the internet. This may or may not be feasible depending on the tasks you want to do with your computer. If you must use it on the net, don't use it for important activities like banking and email.

If you are using XP on the net, don't install any software (including plugins, addons, viewers, etc) unless you are very sure it is ok, and be wary of links in emails (even from people you know).

Change browser and email

Install a browser like Firefox or Chrome and make this the default browser.
Install an alternative email client, such as Thunderbird.

Ordinary user

Don't use your XP computer as administrator. Set up an ordinary user account for all your normal computer tasks. Have a separate admin user, and only use this for tasks that need admin permissions (such as installing software).

Remove old software

Uninstall any old software that you don't need. If you don't need them, uninstall flash and Java. As well as removing potential security vulnerabilities, removing old software should help speed up your computer.

Anti-virus

Check that your anti-virus software works with XP, or change to one that does. Ensure that the anti-virus software and its definitions are kept up to date.

Computer security

Whether you use Windows XP, 7 or 8, or some other system like Linux or Apple OS X, here are some tips for keeping your computer safe.