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Boulder Computer Maven Newsletter - January 2014

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year from Boulder Computer Maven. I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all the best for 2014.

This is my customer newsletter, containing information that I hope will help you use your computer more enjoyably, safely, and efficiently. Previous newsletters are available on the newsletters page of the Boulder Computer Maven web site.

This month's topic is It's Time to Replace Your Windows XP Computer.

If you change your E-mail address, please send me your new one. If you don't want to receive this newsletter, let me know, and I'll remove your name from my mailing list.

For questions or comments, or to schedule an appointment for help with your Windows PC, Internet connection, wireless network, iPad, Kindle, or Kindle Fire, please call me at 720-443-1812.

Best Wishes,
Steve Winograd

Helping People Use Computers in Boulder for Over 25 Years

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Microsoft will end support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. As of that date, there will be no more updates or technical support available for Windows XP.

If you bought a computer between October 2001 and January 2007, it probably has Windows XP for its operating system.

If you're not sure what version of Windows your computer has, look at the Start button at the lower left corner of the screen. In Windows XP, the Start button is rectangular and includes the word start. In later versions of Windows, the Start button is round and doesn't have any text.

If you're still not sure, look at the Windows version listed in the System Properties window:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. If you see the words Pick a category, click Performance and Maintenance.
  4. Click System

Why Do Updates Matter?

Microsoft issues regular Windows Updates to fix bugs that affect your computer's performance, safety, and security. Some of these bugs can allow Internet-based criminal gangs to infect your computer with malicious programs, such as:

Some security experts think that criminal gangs know of many Windows security bugs that Microsoft hasn't found or fixed. After Windows XP support ends, the criminals will send out malicious programs that exploit those bugs, and Windows XP computers will have no defense against them.

What Are My Options?

  1. Buy a new computer. New computers are more powerful and less expensive than ever.
  2. Replace your computer with a smart phone or tablet. That might be all you need if you only use your computer for web browsing and E-mail.
  3. Keep using your Windows XP computer, but disconnect it from the Internet. A computer that isn't connected to the Internet is much less likely to become infected. For example, you might only use your computer for word processing.
  4. Keep using your Windows XP computer on the Internet, in spite of the risks. If you do this, be sure to replace your Microsoft Internet Explorer or antivirus program with one from another vendor that still provides updates and support. But be aware that other vendors will also end support for Windows XP in the future.

Are There Other Considerations?

A Windows XP computer is probably between 7 and 13 years old, so it's likely to develop hardware problems at some point. When that happens, it's probably better to buy a new computer than to spend money fixing one that old.

The most likely problem is a hard disk failure, which can happen suddenly, with no warning. Make sure to back up your personal files to an external drive or online backup service to protect them from loss.

How Can Boulder Computer Maven Help Me?

I'll be happy to review your computer use with you and recommend the best option. I can help you to:

If you have me set up your new computer and transfer your files to it from the old computer, I'll dispose of your old computer safely for you at no cost by:
  1. Permanently erasing your personal files from the old computer.
  2. Taking your old computer to a recycling center.