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How To Keep Using Windows 7 Safely After Support Ends

I want to keep using Windows 7, but support is ending.
Am I screwed?

No, you’re not screwed.

You may very well be able to keep using Windows 7 safely, just as a small number of people continue to use Windows XP to this day.

You simply have to take responsibility for keeping yourself safe — even more than before.

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Your Windows 7 PC is out of support
Your Windows 7 PC is out of support (Click for larger image.)

Keeping Windows 7

The analogy I used in the previous version of this article for Windows XP was this: it’s like keeping your old 1957 Chevy that still runs great.

Windows 7 Sure, it’s a simpler vehicle, but it has no seatbelts, air bags, navigation system, backing-up camera, anti-lock brakes, nor whatever else we take for granted on modern vehicles. Getting leaded gas or an equivalent is a bit of a problem, and driving the old girl requires a different skill set — for example, do you still remember how (and why?) to pump the brakes?

And, of course, when something fails, you have a problem. You won’t easily find a repair shop to help, not to mention replacement parts, and there certainly won’t be any fixes or recalls.

As long as you’re willing to work around all that, you can certainly keep driving it until it fails beyond repair.

Staying safe with Windows 7

To be honest, there’s nothing really new or special you need to do to use Windows 7 beyond its support window (which ends, as of this writing, January 14, 2020). You just need to pay more attention to the things you should be doing already.

Keep your security software up to date. Keep all your other applications up to date. Be even more skeptical when it comes to downloads and emails.

Keep doing all the things that allow us to use our computers and the internet safely — with a little more attention than before.

Diminishing support

Over time, more and more software vendors will stop supporting Windows 7.

If that includes your security software, you’ll need to find a replacement right away. Microsoft Security Essentials — my general recommendation — will keep working for some time independent of the Windows 7 cut-off date, but Microsoft won’t support it forever.

As long as they keep supporting Windows 7, you can keep running it. The moment it doesn’t, you need to find an alternative.

Pragmatically, that’s true for any software you run: at some point, Windows 7 support will be dropped, and you’ll need to either find an alternative, stop using that software, or upgrade to a supported version of Windows.

Outdated software as a security risk

The risk of using any unsupported software, but particularly an unsupported operating system, is this:

  • At some point, a vulnerability will be discovered that will not be fixed
  • Malware will exploit that vulnerability

You’ll then be relying on only your security tools — and your own common sense — to protect you.

Depending on who you talk to, this is either almost certain doom or a complete non-issue.

Naturally, I fall somewhere in between.

As we’ve seen with Windows XP, predictions of catastrophe failed to materialize. As I said, there are folks happily and safely running it today. But there are also those who, faced with critical tools, favorite applications, and even hardware dropping support for the OS, have chosen to upgrade.

The same will likely be true for Windows 7; continuing to use it will eventually become more irritating than it’s worth.

Exactly how long it’ll take for that to happen depends, of course, on you.

Most important of all is that you take the steps to stay safe and remain skeptical.

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105 comments on “How To Keep Using Windows 7 Safely After Support Ends”

  1. Windows 7 is a mature OS with years of fixing security holes. Keep a up to date browser and security software and your good for awhile. Just remember that hardware makers will also probably drop driver support, and even software may slowly stop supporting Win 7. There comes a time when the cost to support Win 7 doesn’t make sense. Couple old PC’s I have cannot run Win 10 well so I have moved on to Linux desktop OS. Windows 7 still runs on one of my PC’s but only because the PC maker still supports it and provides driver support for most recent Win 10 release.

    Reply
    • Microsoft saves money on updates by forcing users to buy windows 10 operating system, which may be phased out in 5 years as well, going to new operating system, pay as you go and wit Icloud and its monthly expenses and some 2001-2010 programs may not run or be not so slowly phased out, This is at the expense of every consumer, company or government computers with Windows 7 computers, since Windows 10 was early 2012-2013 with major problems and stores are still selling computers with Windows 7 today, my first notice was late November 2019, now it is 36 days until deadline

      Reply
      • Microsoft offered the upgrade to Windows 10 for free for all users of Windows 7 and newer. I’ve heard, but haven’t confirmed it that if you download Windows 10 from the Microsoft website, it will still activate with the original activation key. (Update 2020: Is Windows 10 Still Free in 2020?)
        Microsoft has said that all upgrades to Windows 10 will continue to be free for the life of the machine or until the machine no longer has the capacity to run the upgrade.
        Microsoft has made many mistakes but I don’t see anything nefarious with their OS update policies.

        Reply
    • Whether to abandon your old OS and computer H/W really depends upon how you use it and the expense of having to replace the application that you need, love and spent a lot of time learning how to use. There are many important computer uses that do not require the Internet or the exchange of Data CDs or Jump drives with strangers. Example 1. I do a lot of house plans using a very good, intuitive CAD program named Autosketch 9.0 which runs fine on Windows 7 but is no longer availble except maybe on Ebay. My PC uses a Pentium Dual CPU at 3.2 ghz clock speed and I print on my Epson WF-7200 11″x17″ Multi-function Inkjet printer, scanner, and FAX. As long as I can buy printer ink or ink refills and nothing breaks, there is no need much less a reason to change. EXAMPLE 2. I have a separate stand alone dedicated computer that I use as a video editing system with Pinnicle software. I have lots of old 8 mm movies from the 1960s and 1970’s, and their successor VHS tapes from the 1980’s and 1990’s. HD Digital Video tapes from the 2000-2010 era that I am in the process of converting to digital movies, storing on a 1 terabyte HD as well as producing DVDs from the old home movies to give to family members. This is a closed system, does its job without the Internet or social media direct interface. No need or reason to throw away the computer and change operating systems. Example 3. I am still using Office 2003 on my Windows 7 cpmputer for keeping a mail list and doing book publishing. The programs I used to most are Excel, Access, Word and MS Publisher. When I publish a book, I store typically a 400 page document in pdf format on a jump drive which I use another computer to upload to an on-line publisher or to register the book and obtain bar code graphics. My main day-to-day desk top computer is used to get news, weather and stock reports, e-mail, genealogy on-line research and pay my bills and keep records of bank and credit card transactions. Besides needing the highest and best security protection, I have already tun into compatibility issues when I do not update. Firefox will no longer support Windows XP, some Web sites will no longer support older versions of Firefox and Older versions of Firefox do not and will not have the latest and best security updates. This is called Catch 22 or Murphy’s Law. Only choice and best choice is to update to maintain compatibility. Finally, I would like to take note of the marketing strategy being employed by the big SW companies like Microsoft, Intuit and Norton. It has to do with the difference between selling a one time license giving you the right to use a software produce forever, and the rental approach which produces a steady incoming stream of revenue to the manufactures. While it is undeniable that functions like Office 360, Cloud, and One-drive provide a product that the mobile on-the-go professional executive, salesman or engineer has come to depend on, they are unnecessary and a continuing forever expenses for the occasional user who each year must fork over hard earned $$$ to keep his system operating. This is becoming a real burden on children and low income families who cannot afford it.

      Reply
      • I have Office 365 and consider it very good value for the cost. 5 computers, 5 TB cloud storage $100 a year. I’d pay that for the cloud storage alone. Libre Office is perfect for the vast majority of (if not all) people who can’t afford Office.

        Reply
      • William, I agree with you. I have an old desktop that could easily run Win 10 (I did upgrade my laptop to 10, and it works fine). I bought an I5/16 gig ram/SSD for my “main” computer. I rarely use the old Win 7 on the internet…just to update my old apps. It has the whole MS Office Suite, which I rarely use anymore since I am now retired (I was a software developer for nearly 45 years).

        – Tom

        Reply
      • Absolutely my experiences. I have been using computers since VAX was the only “computer” then bought my first PC by selling my one-year-old car to be able to afford the first PC for almost $3000 (and that was before the internet or Windows when there were no hard drives, just a huge 5″ floppy disk to be taken in and out of the machine and everything was done in DOS). Now, while things have become easier, the user has lost freedom because there is a price to pay for being able to use a Microsoft machine. At first it was that we had to use only their discs and then only their programs, without which the computer would not operate. It seems in retrospect that the changes/improvements of products and operating systems and devices were designed to render one’s ability to use the system i you did not buy it or “upgrade”. It was been the old “I owe my life to the company store.” One can never fully own a working system without paying more and more. The example that driving one’s old Chevy is ok until there are better cars out there is good, but in my experience as a baby boomer, one drove the old Chevy “until it broke down completely with a cracked block or something to do with its hardware that rendered it useless” Windows 7 is beloved by designers, authors and others. Why not support it? They are forcing us to enter into a big expenditure. Another observation: I love Microsoft Word for Windows but that is another example of Microsoft holding one’s documents hostage: “Want access to the documents you created and paid for last year? Pay us more money and we will let you have access to them. If not, you are locked out.” Ouch. I got tired of it all and moved to Mac but keep this windows system for the things Microsoft doesn’t earn money from BYW, I am now continuing to use Windows 7 and get the threatening messages warning me to not get too comfortable with it because unless I pay more money by upgrading I will lose it all. I transfered all the documents onto a Seagate external drive. Alas, as you said, it is a big rental system similar to an apartment with leases, rent increases, rules.

        Reply
        • Many of the things you say are “forced” are not — you’re quite welcome to keep using Windows 7, for example. As for paying to access your own documents, I don’t understand that scenario at all. Not something I’ve ever encountered.

          Reply
    • from ubuntu`s download page….
      “Ubuntu 19.10
      The latest version of the Ubuntu operating system for desktop PCs and laptops, Ubuntu 19.10 comes with nine months, until July 2020, of security and maintenance updates.
      Recommended system requirements are the same as for Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS.
      Ubuntu 19.10 release notes.”
      does this mean constant updates? are they simple to do without
      interference?

      Reply
      • At the risk of reciting the obvious, a search for “ubuntu update” produces myriad citations.
        Also, you can expect updating Linux to be easy, considering that Linux users tend to update often, and will not tolerate nuisance.

        Reply
        • Thanks, win 10 is making it difficult to install. MS is almost forcing us to buy a new machine. if this is the last version of windows that`ll ever come out MS should just put out an installation disk we can buy and install it ourselves. MBAM tells me i`m safe using win 7 with their protection. i`ll stick with win 7 until its not feasible anymore.

          Reply
  2. “As we’ve seen with Windows XP, predictions of catastrophe failed to materialize.” Like Y2K, nothing happened. If I had a dollar for every time the media caused mass hysteria, I could buy my own media outlet and influence minds like they do.

    Reply
  3. What does the inquirer plan to do with the Win7 computer?

    For some purposes it may be enough to just disconnect from the source of most malware, the internet, except when updating security software. Even during security updates, don’t do email, open a browser., and disable auto updates on all other software.

    I keep a WinXP computer that has a bit of expensive software, which the supplier will not upgrade to a Win10 version. As the software is only occasionally used, I just never connect this machine to the internet and also minimize other threat vectors (DVD’s, thumb drives, the wireless interface, etc.)

    Reply
    • That’s already unsupported. The good news is that the advice in this article applies similarly to all unsupported OSes.

      Reply
      • I have a Sony VAIO tower that is not compatible with Win10. Not only that, Canon doesn’t have Win10 drivers for two of my photo printers (PIXMA 6700Ds) for which I have and can get cheap ink & printheads. So I have and will keep that PC running Win7Pro until such time as I can no longer get supplies for my PIXMA 6700Ds. I have it networked and use it as a print server only with little other software on that machine except for AVG antivirus & MalWareBytes.

        Reply
  4. When my attempt to upgrade to Windows 10 in 2015 bricked my motherboard, I decided Microsoft no longer existed. Surely no one associated with Microsoft has noticed or cared, but will they someday…?
    Anyhow, should my W7 become unusable, I’ll switch to Linux, probably Mint.

    Reply
  5. i use MBAM for my security and they have advised me they will still protect my win 7 ultimate computer even after microsoft no longer supports it. Mr. N advised me to use it when i first got a computer and i have been completely happy with it. as for MSE you mentioned, microsoft forces us to put it on our computers, and i`ve had it on mine since 2012, but it has never, ever, caught anything endangering my computer. its a useless security program. and a full scan sometimes takes an hour and half to complete only to find it found nothing. i`m gonna stick to win 7 until MBAM tells me i should switch.

    Reply
    • I also have Win7 & do not want to give it up. I am looking into other security options after Jan 14, 2020. What exactly is MBAM?

      Reply
      • There seems to be a Windows 10 phobia going around. From my experience, Windows 10 works perfectly well and from the very few questions and comments mentioning Windows 10 problems, I’d say Windows 10 is just as stable as Windows 7. We do get a lot of “never 10” comments which remind me of a joke I heard.
        A little kid says to his mother, “I know don’t like beets, I’ve never eaten any”

        Reply
        • A windows 10 update that I did recently slowed down my laptop. I had the impression of runinning a PC 386sx until I got a newer update. That phobia is there for a good reason. Not talking about the ones who got files deleted by 1 update.

          Reply
          • Agreed, WhiteGecko. Same problem with my wife’s laptop here. It’s a decent and rather recent Asus model with an i5, purchased with Windows 10 installed (no “upgrade” from W7). It began to lag even worse than a 386sx one or two months ago. The OS got finally nearly frozen and I was forced to use the repair function at last. When it has completed, I was determined to install Linux instead, as I did on my own computers, but the firmware setup options would no longer allow booting from a DVD or an USB key. All boot options provided pointed to EFI boot files supposedly located on the laptop HDD. No boot was allowed any longer on anything without an EFI file on. I suppose I must reset the firmware to its defaults, but I did not dare to do it yet.
            I also had to try to fix an older PC (W7 upgraded to W10) from one of my wife’s friends yesterday, and it lagged like my wife’s: you had to wait for the computer to deign to respond to the simplest commands. I am afraid Microsoft is wasting lots of computers in many ordinary households with W10, and people are just forgetting how fast and easily a computer can work…

        • Windows 10 sucks, when W7 browsers like chrome and Firefox stop to give me updates I will definetely go to Linux
          I dont care about gaming bullshit anymore, Sincerely I got sick of gaming, I jsutbrowse for info and reading or watching videos now

          Reply
          • If you don’t need any programs or hardware which require Windows then Linux is a great alternative. Unfortunately, for most people, they have a program or a hardware component which needs windows. More unfortunate for some is that some of those programs or hardware won’t work on the new version of Windows. That’s just life in the ever changing computer world.

  6. I’m still running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1, (mainly because it includes Windows Media Center, which has unfortunately been removed from Windows 10), but if Microsoft were to restore WMC to Windows 10, I would upgrade immediately, even though I’m not crazy about the new interface.
    I don’t own a TV set, Windows Media Center is the only way I can watch and record live TV, and after considerable amount of research, downloading, installing, testing and then uninstalling various replacements, (both free and commercial, including JRiver Media Center and Plex), I have not been able to find a satisfactory replacement.
    I am well aware of a website/forum called “The Big Green Button,” which purports to help Windows 10 users to install the last version of WMC, but, from what I can gather, there seem to be numerous technical problems, and I’m not at all sure that I would ever be able to make it work.
    Bottom line: Bring back WMC to Win 10 and I’ll upgrade immediately!

    Reply
    • I’ve never used Windows Media Center and I strongly believe it’s a good idea to upgrade to supported software. I generally like the recommendations from the alternativeto website. You might try one of their recommended Media Center replacements.

      Reply
  7. Using and older computer with Windows XP. I never go on the internet with it. Never have. It doesn’t even have a security system on it anymore so as not to suck up CPU when recording. I use Pro Tools 7LE for recording on it and have 100+ songs recorded on that older version and Pro Tools, now AVID, has new suffix for its files, and will no longer copy older files to their new version. (As far as I know) Pretty stuck unless someone has a suggestion. I bought a couple of old mother boards for it in case the computer goes down from that standpoint which it did a couple of years ago. True, like trying to find parts for a 1979 Pinto.

    Reply
  8. I contacted Windows help desk, and they told me because I am running Windows 7 Pro, and I am on disability, the continued updates are free for me.

    Reply
      • I don’t have a link but I have been reading for quite a while that ms will provide essential security updates for commercial users for several years, for a price of course. I don’t know if that is available for personal users and even if so it is probably too expensive for most. I guess that may have changed but if you want I will look it up and link.

        Reply
  9. Besides Windows 7 Pro, I have Linux Mint 19.2 Tina Cinnamon and Ubuntu Studio installed. The Latter 2 OS occupy one Hard Drive and Windows sits on its own Hard Drive. Linux Mint 19.2 Tina Cinnamon is my Daily Operating System, but for the next few weeks, I will be on Windows, because I have been asked to transfer some VHS tapes to DVD, and I have a NLE Video Editing Program that can capture those tapes, it is a windows based Program.

    Reply
  10. I updated two of my Windows 7 computers to Windows 10, when Microsoft had free updates. At two different times, when Windows 10 updated, I had a catastrophic failure of both systems, which forced me to go back to Windows 7, which was my original operating system of both computers. I do NOT like Windows 10, nor would I recommend any operating system to update it. Windows 10 crashing caused me to lose most of the data which I had installed on my computers. Due to the fact that I had many of the original programming disks, I was able to reinstall my programs.

    Reply
  11. As Leo says, ‘You may very well be able to keep using Windows 7 safely, just as a small number of people continue to use Windows XP to this day.’ I am one of those who still use XP. As I understood when XP was ‘orphaned’, MS still provided support for OEM system builders (those who did ‘clean’ installs, as many banks and financial institutions had done). Rightly or wrongly, I still get occasional security updates from Microsoft. I use PC Matic as my security, as they still support XP, but certainly don’t push the envelope; I just don’t do social media. Will probably go to Linux Mint in future, but have kept XP because of a proprietary business software program that doesn’t run on 7, 8, or 10.

    Reply
  12. I wouldn’t be surprised if ms works behind the scenes to produce some garbage to take out some W7 users causing a lot of panic, pushing people to 10 of course. Just look into bill gates to see what this guy is capable of. I don’t know if he was ever on the rails personally but he sure has been way off them for the last couple decades that we know of.

    Reply
  13. I am still driving my first and only car, a 66 mustang and I can fix it myself and have no problem finding parts and it’s paid for and yes people do know what it is not like all new look alike cars.

    Reply
    • This is certainly not an old car forum, but I think Gary is right on. I keep threatening my wife the next car I buy is going to be a 65 or 66 Mustang, as all you worry about are gas and ignition problems which are straight forward. The same seems to apply to computers, but then, I’m an old guy who started with CPM on ‘personal’ computers. AND, BTW, they still work, even with the internet, if you don’t mind dial up modems!
      As one of the ‘Leo’s’ (Notenboom or LaPorte) said, ‘there is really only one operating system now, and that is Unix. Even Microsoft is realizing that.’

      Reply
      • An original Mustang would probably cost you as much as a Tesla. I’ve seen them on sale for upwards of $50,000 and another example used here, a ’57 Chevy, is even more expensive.

        Reply
  14. On my A cer Aspire 5310, the upgraded W7pro tó W10pro built 10240 works well, but it’s imposible to update It, because the frozen of matherboard on installing phase(when I have tó select the language of claviature) Is’t any solution for this? Return toW7, or Ubuntu?

    Reply
      • I will argue with you about ‘crapmobiles’ Leo. You say they are safer in an accident, which I don’t believe except for the airbags (IF they work). The old cars have more weight (density) and certainly will win in a standoff with MOST of the lighter cars today. There’s a reason why semi-trucks or bus drivers don’t have to wear seat belts. They are going to win in an accident. I have an old Volkswagen repair shop across the street from me. Most of the VW’s towed in there are so mangled, I’m sure the occupant(s) were killed in the mishap.

        Reply
        • My high-tech “crapmobile” was rated one of the safest cars on the road today. Sure, there are true crap vehicles out there, but new doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and old doesn’t necessarily mean better (Pinto, anyone?). Evaluate the cars (and computer technologies … and people, for that matter) on their merits, not their age.

          Reply
        • Looks can be deceiving. Modern cars are designed to crumple and mangle, which absorbs the impact and keeps the occupant safe. I’ve seen a good few modern cars left unrecognizable after accidents that the occupants walked away from uninjured, or with a little bit of whiplash. Older cars the occupants would have been crushed by the engine, or the weight of the chassis if the car ended up upside down.

          Similarly with computers. Older windows is insecure. Use with extreme caution. Windows 10 has some issues with regard to user privacy and a few other things, but it is very secure by default. Linux is great if you keep it up to date and know what you are doing when you make changes. Too many people think just by using linux they are secure. Out of date or misconfigured linux is just as insecure as unsupported windows versions.

          Reply
  15. Interesting article, but no mention of Chrome operating system laptops. I will do the bulk of my work with a new one of those, making use of google accounts and just continue with my Windows 7 machine for the few essential programs I use having disconnected the machine from any access to internet or bluetooth.

    Reply
  16. I’m 72 and in a panic. I can’t afford a new computer. I have thousands of pictures on here ( my PC ) and of course some documents. ( I have backed them up to portable things, so I know I still “have them”,) but do I have to worry that I will lose online access to them without having to plug in one of those things everything I need to see or use something? Second question. I only use Chrome, as soon as my computer turns on I click on that, so do I need to worry?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure what you’re worried about (as in it’s unclear from your comment). Windows 7 will keep working, since that’s the subject of the article, so no need to panic. Just keep using best security practices, and BACK UP regularly.

      Reply
  17. Support for Windows 7 from a device driver standpoint is drying up as I recently found out when I tried to reinstall on an older Acer. This was true for motherboard, dvd and hard drive vendors. The comment from Western Digital support is that the drive was a legacy device. So as Windows 7 EOL’d the computers that can potentially run it are blocked. Is this a ploy by Microsoft, I can’t say but it wouldn’t be the first time. At any rate plan on stockpiling device drivers or plan on going to Linux. Cheers

    Reply
    • I can’t see how this is a ploy by Microsoft. They offered a free upgrade to Windows 10 for all users of Windows 7 and later. There’s even talk of a possibility that you can still take advantage of this upgrade by downloading it directly from MS. Update 2020: (It still appears to be true) Microsoft spends a lot of money supporting an OS and after ample time to upgrade, MS is simply pulling the plug on the older OS, something all OS makers do.

      As for legacy drivers, in my experience, most if not all device manufacturers keep copies of older drives available on their sites to download.

      Reply
  18. I havent updated windows 7 for over 6 years, and its still going strong, I dont use any Antivirus and ive never had any problems, ill continue updating drivers etc using 3rd party sodtware as ive been doing and continue using windows 7 until the day i die. My ol faithful pc will continue to boot and run like clock work as it has for many years, windows 10 will NEVER! run on my system, thats just the way it is.

    Windows 10 ias any one knows who has been styupid enough to upgrade to the garbage is the worst windows OS ever created, thats not debateable, its a pile of crap, its worthless!

    There are to many chiefs writing blogs and articles based on opinion and not facts giving their version of BS while the truth remains, the huge majority of internet users will stay with windows 7 and are happy to never change.

    Reply
    • Actually, it’s very debatable. A tiny percentage of users have problems with Windows 10 and those are the ones you hear from. People have been having problems with every OS, probably at a similar rate. I remember when XP started out, it had a lot of problems. Eventually, most of them were worked out and XP became the OS people wanted to keep forever. Similar with Windows 7. What you might do instead is hold off a bit on major upgrades to Windows 10 for 6 months or a year. The OS is still supported and by the time you install the upgrade most of the kinks should have been worked out.

      Reply
      • Love my Win 7 pro on a naked bloatware absent refurb. PC $170 with a 2 tb drive. Nearly silent Dell Optiplex, think it’s a 760. I have 2 laptops with Win10, Gateway and Dell. Not one is better than the other because the OS is made for telephones. I still have a hard-wired telephone in my house (for telephone calls). Don’t have or need a smartphone nor Win10.

        Reply
  19. I appreciate the balance between the issues involved with the end of support for Windows 7 and the alternatives to upgrading to Windows 10. As a Windows users since Windows 95 (on a P200 machine that I ordered from Gateway on which I opted to upgrade to 64MB ram, total cost $3,500) I’ve upgraded to the latest, greatest OS Microsoft offers 6 or so times. But I’ve never before experienced the problems I’ve had with Windows 10. And the fact (if it is fact) that only a “tiny” number of users have a problem with it is little consolation if you are one of those users. I have used Windows 7 Pro since it came out and I got used to a stable OS that did and still does everything I need it to do.

    But on a laptop I bought specifically to use for a class I teach I can’t count the number of system restores and update roll backs I’ve had to do most recently after 1903 update. After growing tired of the numerous nags to update I did finally and after an amount of time that seemed longer than it would take to do a clean install of the OS I got one BSOD after another, about 4 in the first three hours running the update. Never mind the loss of what I’d been working on since the last save, the fact that often there is no indication whatsoever as to the cause of the problem (yes, I know there’s an error code but it is never specific) means all you can do is reboot and cross your fingers. This interruption of the computing experience is a hassle but I believe these crashes do have a negative effect on hard drives. I don’t know the details but I’m pretty sure that these events can cause damage to any mounted hard drive in the system. In fact in doing research about this I’ve seen no small number of users whose drive/s have become unusable after repeated BSODs.

    If you research the end of support for Windows 7 the vast majority of “experts” have but one bit of advice to offer those of us who happily use W7 without issue, “Upgrade to Windows 10”. The undertone I get sometimes is “Hey, get out of your comfort zone and get with the times like the rest of us”. I am an old dog but I am more than willing to learn new tricks.

    But when forced updates that supposedly are going to make the OS better, or actually fix problems cause my computing device to become unusable for the moment or even worse cause catastrophic hardware failures what can I do? Of course this well written, informative article helps answer this question. It’s just sad to me that I’m basically forced to move from a tool that has been stable and reliable to one that could actually damage my computer. And for the record, I haven’t done a lot of unconventional tweaking or modifications to this machine. Also, this is not a “phobia”, this is from “My experience”.

    I’d be happy to do what before as a loyal Windows user was unthinkable, move to Apple products (as a friend urges me to do) but Geeez Louise, the cost of the hardware. I’d never seriously looked at Macs but an i7 with 16GB of ram and a 1TB SSD costs $2,200? Really???

    It’s just hard for me to believe that if you do what you already should be doing as this article suggests that the risk is that great. Malwarebytes, Bit Defender, VPN and a router with firewall (I don’t use wireless, I don’t need it) can’t protect me? To exploit the OS “they” have to get to it right?

    I am in the process of installing Mint on a laptop I obtained for cheap because the hard drive went South. Pop in an $18 PNY 120GB SSD and I’m climbing the Linux curve. I have a feeling this is the way I’m going to go with a more powerful desktop once I know the ropes.

    I’ll probably keep this W7 Pro machine running and connected just to see how it goes. Of course keeping stuff backed up and not having anything critical living on the machine, I’ll assume there will be a breach and plan accordingly. Also I’ll keep a W10 machine online just to see where it goes.

    I’m just frustrated that those whom I’ve always looked to give me a tool to use in doing what I enjoy most, computing, are literally forcing me to make big changes.

    With Windows 10 Microsoft’s core principle should be the same as the medical profession’s, DO NO HARM.

    I apologize for this long rant but it was in me and it had to come out.

    Thanks Leo,

    Ken

    Reply
    • “that only a “tiny” number of users have a problem with it is little consolation if you are one of those users” – I totally understand and get this. Really I do. I also think that you’re taking the right path by having attempted a reinstall from scratch, and/or are investigating Linux.

      However sticking with Windows 7, as this article outlines, is also a valid possibility you should absolutely consider after all you’ve been through.

      Reply
  20. Thanks Leo. To be crystal clear, I would absolutely love to love Windows 10, I really would. And I understand that there is no process or system that is without faults, nothing is 100% reliable. (Ooops, I’ve gone and done it, I’ve spoken in absolute terms) And as I’ve said, I’ve been a Windows user for roughly 25 years so I’ve seen no small amount of glitches, problems and issues that must be overcome. And frankly that’s part of what I enjoy about computing, figuring things out, making something that isn’t working the way it should, work the way it was intended. But a catastrophic failure as is the BSOD is the worst issue of all. Or, a manifestation of an issue I should say.

    If I install software or if I install or update a driver and things get wonky, I can disable or roll it back and then see if things return to normal. This is the trouble shooting process and been through it more times than I can remember. But when you have a machine that is working day in, day out without issue and it starts crashing after a forced update a likely cause emerges. But there’s the old “cause and effect” conundrum, if things are working normally and a change in the system occurs it must be the change that caused the problem right? Maybe, maybe not. If the system was misconfigured in some way, even though it appears to work normally a change that would not have had a negative effect on a properly configured system becomes the culprit. So yes, a problem occurred after the change, but it was not the fault of the change the fault lies in the system it was applied to.

    So in the end, who knows? I just know I’ve had more BSODs with 10 than I had with all the other versions of Windows put together. Does this mean 10 is a dumpster fire not capable of redeeming itself? No (at least IMO). But how much of my valuable and limited time can I allot to figuring it all out? I work from home and others have certain expectations of me with regard to productivity so I need things to work and I need to spend time getting stuff done, not trying to figure out why the latest, greatest brings things to a screeching halt.

    The workflow interruption is one thing though, my question to anyone who cares to answer is one I’ve mentioned before. Can repeated system crashes cause damage to physical components specifically hard drives, mechanical or solid state? This is my biggest concern. If I loose work because I didn’t save at frequent enough intervals that’s on me. And I learned long ago, if you can’t afford to loose it, back it up. But having to obtain new storage and restore the OS and critical applications is no small thing.

    I guess one bright side is since W8 the blue screens are more elegant, not those vulgar bright blue it’s the end of your world as you know it images of more primitive versions.

    And the : ( let’s me know that MS is feeling my pain.

    Reply
  21. Hey here is some common sense! a rarity these days and becoming rarer with each passing day.
    Make sure you administrator account is enabled. (MS sends it disabled so it will not get hacked)
    Make sure you have a strong unique password for you administrator account.

    Neuter your login account, demote it to ONLY “user” power/rights (take away administrator rights that MS gives it as default)

    Now when want to install, attach, adversely affect it will require the Administrator password to be types in.
    Since MS causes the administrator to be disabled as default to prevent it from being hacked you can “rename” this powerful account to something else (for example Adm1n1str@t0r OR Sup3rus3r)

    Reply
  22. Senior Engineer – Windows 7 – 64 bit pro user here. I tried Win10, and I dont really like the telemetry idea of Win10. Even if you remove it from the system, and if you stop updates “somehow” its end up there again. My last Windows will be win7, and I will move to the *nix world. My only problem with *nix, i didnt find a proper desktop email client yet. I tried a lot of solutions, but none of them seems to be as reliable as outlook.

    To be honest, I really disagree with the way as technology is “developing” nowdays. Many sofware are getting overcomplicated and worse then before, its going backward. I don’t want to store my data in the “cloud”. Social media is destroying basic values and societies worldwide, and leading the world to more chaos.

    Whenever an operating system on my hardware is operating against my privacy and my own will, I feel im losing the control over my personal data. I think we need a movement to take back control. Technology is corrupt. Absolute technology corrupts absolutley.

    Reply
    • If you never go online, you should be safe from Internet viruses but if you use external media such ad removable drives, DVDs or CDs, your computer would be more vulnerable to any malware from those. Be sure any media you plug in to your computer is clean (good advice even with the latest OS and software), keep your antimalware program and definitions current and keep your backups up to date. A backup cand reverse any damage caused by malware.
      How Do I Backup My Computer?

      Reply
  23. Well, I tried. I just spent 5 days (over the last month) getting ready for an upgrade to Win 10 and then trying to upgrade, a struggle which ended yesterday when Microsoft support could not do it without wiping out all my programs. I requested and received a refund for the $212 paid for Win 10.

    So it’s Win 7 indefinitely now.

    Reply
  24. Trying to reply directly to a comment but unable to do so for whatever reason.
    Here’s the comment, with my reply:
    Gabe wrote
    July 30, 2019 at 8:39 am
    “As we’ve seen with Windows XP, predictions of catastrophe failed to materialize.” Like Y2K, nothing happened. If I had a dollar for every time the media caused mass hysteria, I could buy my own media outlet and influence minds like they do.”

    @Gabe: nothing happened with Y2K because companies poured in $100 billion on reprogramming. This simple two-digit programming “bug” was the most expensive peacetime catastrophe in modern history. So no, it had nothing to do with the media.

    Reply
    • It’s funny. When I went to work at Texas Instruments in 1980, I asked my supervisor, What’s going to happen in 2000 when the 2 digit dates will no longer be enough. She said, in 20 years, we’ll have changed all of our computers a few times over. She didn’t count on the fact that they’d still be using the same software in 20 years.

      Reply
  25. Thanks for an interesting and informative article. My mother’s computer has just crashed (she is 88 years old). She has been running Windows 7 and is reluctant to upgrade and will probably struggle to learn a new OS. I had advised her to upgrade to Windows 10 anyway and think I will continue to do so as she is not very on-board with running updates etc and has already had her computer compromised. She does use the Internet and has very little idea about how it all works. I had a bit of a run-in with the folk at the local computer shop regarding this issue. They are of the opinion that good anti-virus software will be adequate to protect a computer using Windows 7. I think that there are other security updates provided by Microsoft with a supported system, patches and such like which fix possible weaknesses that can be exploited by malware. Your article seems to support my view. Any futher advice?

    Reply
  26. Thanks Leo for this article. I am a blind computer user, and have noticed that each version of Windows and Office has gotten less accessible for screen reader users since XP. I have a Windows 10 laptop with Office 365, but it is much more cumbersome than my Windows 7 desktop.

    Reply
  27. I’ve been using PCLinuxOS for 5 or more years but we have Win 7 on another HD and my wife uses it regularly an I occasionally. Adobe Elements and Premiere are installed although about 10 years old. She does all her video editing and printing on Win 7. The Epson Printer works better on Win 7 which is never online so totally safe. The Win 7 file system can be accessed through the Linux Dolphin file manager and files can be added,deleted, moved or copied right from Linux. Rebooting is only necessary to run programs. I even have another HD standing by with Win 7 installed in case of a failure. Thus two mid octogenarians can possess cake and eat it as well.

    Reply
  28. hi leo, love the article and all the yaks after…many people have great points. me, i fall into the “old fart” class. i am 75 and have been with windows since win95…all except vista and 8. seven has been wonderful and a great experience. i have it running the way i want and have all the programs i want that have been collected over the years. ever since MS started with the 10 bs i have stopped updating…about three years or so. i run good anti virus software, do weekly image backups that are kept offline and run Sandboxie always. all my updated browsers are portable and i run them off flash drives that are sandboxed. never a glitch or problem…nothing but smooth sailing for three years +. two computers in use all day every day and neither with any problems. i dont feel like tweaking another OS. i am not stupid and dont do stupid things online. i will stick with win7pro till this box dies and its only a couple years old…probably will last as long as i do. but good luck to all and each to his own road.
    Clas of 56

    Reply
  29. To be honest, there’s nothing really new or special you need to do to use Windows 7 beyond its support window

    I appreciate your assurance. So many statements today that are dis-honest, it’s good to know your’s at least are honest.

    Reply
  30. I totally disagree with your statement that a person won’t be able to easily find a repair shop to help.

    As I recall Windows 7 still has a market share of around 25%.

    I for one will still repair and support 7 for many years to come, and so will every tech. and shop that I know of.

    Reply
      • Bob has a point. Any technician which works with Windows 10 has been recently working with Windows 7 and will have no problem repairing it. You were talking about the 57 Chevy when you said that but it seems like the analogy doesn’t extend to repairs.

        Reply
  31. I recently bought a new HP laptop pc that has win 10 and Intel Pentium gold cpu 2.3 gig and has 4 gig of memory. It is without a doubt the slowest piece of krap i have ever wasted money on. I cant believe that in this day that a new pc could be slow as a win xp or slower. I do hope there is a way to speed it up!!!

    Reply
    • That’s really not enough memory to run Windows efficiently. Unfortunately, many computers come with only 4 GB. I upgraded my 4 GM RAM machines to 8 GB. More is even better.

      Reply
    • PCMatic is a reputable antimalware program. So that’s one important thing already taken care of. Now you just need to do what he rest of the article says. Most importantly, Back up. Keep all of your programs up yo date. Don’t download anything you aren’t 100% sure of and don’t open email attachments unless you were expecting them etc.

      Reply
  32. I have an old Acer 3610 Netbook used as an HTPC. I use it only for streaming YouTube or network video content. I don’t use it for surfing, social media or email. My thought sare that I am avoiding the most common hazards but wonder is it safe to continue Windows 7 use in this manner?

    Reply
    • Malware comes in from a source outside your computer, most of the time via the Internet in the form of emails, links on malicious websites etc. Another source of malware can be external physical media, infected flash or external drives or optical media. Infected physical media is less common now that the Internet is ubiquitous because it reaches many more people. In order to protect against malware from physical media, I’d scan any new media I connect to my machine for malware.

      Reply
  33. I’m not computer savvy. Point and click guy here. When MS first offered the free win 10 upgrade I had a slow DSL connection. I tried over and over and couldn’t get it to download. Very frustrating. My Dell desktop still runs fine but I guess I can’t use it anymore?. It has a printer attached and I occasionally would print emails or documents from that computer. Now I guess I’m screwed?

    Reply
  34. I have been using windows seven for a while, and it’s worked fine. Now one day I shut it off and I turn it back on again later, and its now searching for updates, and it won’t stop? Is this the end if my windows seven, or is there a way around it?

    P.S: I use windows on my macbook

    Reply
  35. Lol. I disabled windows update on my win7 early 2018. So my support is already 2 years on hold.
    I love this laptop and the way it works is just fine and with updates I always run the risk that I loose features I use and like and there are not many “new” features I need. I like the way you can pause and resume file copies. But thats a windows 8 feature I am told. (never used win8) Also Remote desktop on windows 10 can share the webcam. That I cannot do in windows 7. (somebody pls backport win 10 rdp to win7).
    Just keep the apps you use to go online up 2 date or connect over a vpn that is up2date and secure for things like rdp sessions. My laptop is always behind nat so never exposed directly and even than local firewalling is on also in the “home network”.
    I don’t think that I am in any danger compiling my little arduino projects. Or using winamp to play some music.
    I am just an old fasioned user. I am still angry with firefox because moved the tabs to the top and did not give an easy option to move it back to the pages. Not it are no longer tabs. Have to mess with firefox users.css to get them back down but every install I have to lookup how to do it.

    Reply
    • It’s relatively safe to keep on using Windows 7 but staying behind a NAT router doesn’t offer complete protection against vulnerability exploits. Some exploits allow hackers to bypass the firewall protections. I once hacked into a system at work by going through an authorized program and having it run an unauthorized program which gave me access to the entire computer. I told them about it and they patched that vulnerability. That’s the reason it’s highly recommended to take updates. As vulnerabilities are discovered, they’re patched.

      Reply
  36. I’m thinking of wiping the hard drive and reinstalling from the factory discs that came with my nine year old win 7 machine. I’ve had to do this before because of a hard drive failure back when win 7 was still supported and the computer did the usual thing after the install of downloading all the windows updates that had come out to that point. I understand there aren’t really any win 7 updates anymore, but I’m concerned that the computer won’t be able to find any of the old ones, that have come out in the past 9 years? What do you think will happen?

    Reply

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