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Is Your Laptop Too Old?

Is Your Laptop Past Its Prime?

Laptops have an excellent reputation for durability, so much so that they often outlive the support of their operating system. You may find it hard to believe but Windows XP is approaching its 21st birthday this year and there are still more than .59% of all Windows users running XP. That might seem like a small percentage, but it equates to millions of users. According to a study by Kaspersky Security conducted less than a year ago, there are still over 200 million people running Windows 7.windows-xp-lapotop

Why Keep Your Old Laptop?

Hanging on to your old laptop means that you are still running operating systems that are no longer supported. Windows XP support ended eight years ago and Windows 7 ended just over two years ago. The reasons are varied but easy to understand:

  • First, you are familiar with your system and are reluctant to change
  • Upgrading to a newer OS can be limited by your system’s components
  • Not everyone can afford a new low-end Dell Laptop for $300 bucks

Component Issues

HDDs

Windows XP only needed 1.5GB for a clean install and Windows 7, 7GB to 10GB. Windows 10 requires 16GB for 32bit and 20GB for 64bit systems, which is a tall order for people running 30GB HDDs. Windows 11 requires 64GB or greater for a clean install.

Hardware and Software

Upgrading to a newer OS might mean that some programs and drivers will no longer work meaning some software you are used to will have to end. But is that a good reason to stay with an outdated OS?

Security

The biggest issue is security. When you consider that Security was the major reason why Microsoft retired XP and was the same reason for Windows 7, you can understand why malware attackers will specifically look to exploit them, making small businesses and homeowners vulnerable to attack. Even AV companies will focus on newer systems, with over 1 billion Windows 10 users, they will target their efforts there.

OSs under support mean security breaches are quickly fixed and Cyber units working for major security companies try to create breaches before hackers exploit them.

Does running XP or Windows 7 really put you at risk? Yes. It is important to understand that the lack of security afforded by XP and Windows 7 leaves your entire Local Area Network (LAN) vulnerable even if other members of your household are using Windows 10 or 11. You become the weakest link in the security chain.

Options

For someone using an old laptop, I understand the reluctance to change. Windows 7 is still considered the best version of all time with XP a close second. Outlook Express, my favorite email client ended with XP, and the “simple and easy to understand” layout of Windows 7 made it hard to leave for pop-ups and start menus. The good news is there are options.

New Systems

Refurbished computers carry a low-price tag. With reasonable systems as low as $135 for a used Win 10 Dell Computer to a Dell Opti Plex core i5 for $225.00.

Note: These are US prices and may not be available in Europe, Australia, or other countries.

Enter Linux

Most of you probably know or have heard about Linux. Did you know that Linux is not a single OS? It has approximately 600 versions called “Distros” short for distributions all based on the Linux Kernel. Many are designed to mimic existing OSs while many are designed to meet the needs of extremely small systems. Puppy Linux only requires 300MB to install and only 256MB RAM to run the entire system.puppy-dog

Diversity

With 600 systems based on Linux, you can imagine that options exist. With OSs like Linux Mint, MATE, Lubuntu, andlubuntu-a-windows-xplookalike

Linux Lite, you can mimic XP and give new life to your laptop. Windows 7 mimics include Linux Mint, Ubuntu Mate, and Kubuntu. If you are into Apple, the elementary OS was initially inspired by the macOS but check Deepin Linux, Ubuntu Budgie for that Apple experience.deepin-linux Even Windows lookalikes exist like Linux FX.

Linuxfx-screen-capture

Linux Security

Linux is certainly more secure than XP or Win 7. Google’s Project Zero found that the Linux platform is much more secure than Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS. Linux is maintained by thousands of developers keeping security flaws to a minimum.

Downsides

There are always downsides and not all distros will run all your current software. However, if using email, surfing the web, working in an Office suite, and playing games, then Linux has you covered. Also, some older systems will not allow a boot to a USB so CD installation is required.

Summary

Keep your old laptop, but update your security, speed and mimic your OS by migrating to Linux. You will find that the entire operating system requires less storage and RAM and still maintains or improves your online speeds. The Linux coders have your 32 and 64bit alternatives ready to go. In one of my recent articles, a commenter mentioned Zorin,zorin-scree-capture a Linux distro I had used in the past but not for some time. I told her I would install it on some older Laptops and I was surprised at how easy new distros are to install and how much faster it is. I installed it on my wife’s laptop alongside Windows to compare the two. My wife found opening apps and online speed have increased and found the Zorin windows remarkably like Windows 10. Give Linux a try. If you get stuck, I can help and the DCT forum can help you with most issues.

9 thoughts on “Is Your Laptop Too Old?”

  1. Jim, there are other variables at play with respect to laptop life. The battery has several ways it can end, like overcharging (silly since I believed there would be a circuit cut-off to prevent overcharging), bad plugs, and normal battery life expectancy. If a user over uses the components (like playing games which demand the processors are pushed to their limits), this can surely cause problems.

    As you are a tech expert as well, I might be speaking out of turn with my very limited knowledge, Mindblower!

  2. MB, you can never speak out of turn when asking a question. When a battery is continusly plugged in it will not hurt a lithium battery. It will just stop charging, no switch needed. Even if you left it unplugged and never used the laptop the battery will still die like any normal battery. Processors however are protected. If over heating dous occur, the processor will throttle down. Saving itself. That is one reason people experience a slow feeling when they run their laptop sitting it on a tablecloth or other soft surface that causes a reduction in airflow. If it gets hot enough it will crash but should be OK once cooled.

    1. Hi Nan, I am a big fan and applauded Oracale for taking action keeping users safe for free. I have not used the pro version but do like their low price point. I would recommend the pro for my business users but feel the free is great for home users.

  3. I guess it really depends on what you consider to be old. My main home system is a Dell Precisions M6700 mobile work station which is from about 2013 and I will probably keep using it until I can’t replace parts anymore. I have updated most components since I purchased it used, with a Core-i7 3940XM CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU, 32GB of RAM, and dual Crucial 2TB SSDs in a Raid 0 configuration. This is also the laptop with the RGB display panel and I use it in Dell’s docking station with a Dell Ultrasharp U2412M secondary display. Yes, the newest systems are quicker due to PCIe SSD’s and faster RAM and more powerful GPUs, but not by that much. Of course the big downside to newer laptops is the quest for thinness has made it so internal components are no longer replaceable which I find unacceptable. The only downside to my system is it will never support Windows 11 which quite frankly, I don’t care. Microsoft is clearly laying the groundwork for Windows to be a subscription service like it has done with Office, and Win 11 is the seed for that. I will never play that game. I will run Win 10 forever.

  4. Desert Sky Computing

    Peter, you are not mutch different than my workstation. It is 2 years older than yours but the case allows me to have 32GB 7 drives, dual processors and it out performs many newer machines as much as I would love to upgrade to a new win 11 workstation I find it hard to justify. I don’t know of any plans of win 11 being the seed for a subscription version down the line. Even if you are right, they could not stop users from using the win 11 they already have. Half of my clients are still running office 2013 and office 2021 is a non subscription product. My opinion is that using win 10 and 11 and pushing Edge as the default browser and Bing as the default SE is their goal. It already earns them over 7 billion a year, the windows store makes them a ton of money. Every time a user uses the search or contana find feature they make money. Each of these actions bites into Google’s market share and if it does will pay for win 11. Thanks for the great comment.

  5. My wife’s Dell Win10 laptop has thousands of downloaded single jpg’s & a few folders w/ some in em. How can I “easily” transfer them to another laptop?

    1. Jim, there are several different ways but one of the easiest is if you sync My first choice is if the old computer has OneDrive then on the new computer sign in and sync folders and files. As soon as you sign into OneDrive on the new computer they will be there in the Cloud.

      Connect a USB then download the Folders and files intact then plug it into the 2nd PC and upload.

      Another Way is to use an Ethernet cable. Plug it in both PCs. In your network and internet sharing center change the advanced sharing settings. Turn on File and printer sharing and save changes. Open the parent folder of the files you want to transfer and click on Share on the toolbar. Select Specific people>Everyone>Share>Done.

      There are other ways but let me know if these work for you.

  6. Kathleen A Dombrowski

    Hello Jim,
    As you know from previous posts, I am a big fan of Zorin OS for older PC’s and Laptops. OS 16.1 was recently released. Core Lite works on systems as old as 15yrs. Core works on all newer systems. They are both free and Pro is a paid for. In my personal experience, the switch form Windows is much easier to use (very similar), than Linux etc. Also, the new install instruction calls for a Thumb Drive but is can still be accomplished using the iso and burning a disk.
    I teach a Basic computer class at some of my local Senior Centers. When people could not afford to update their PC’s and Laptops to run Windows 7 and 10, I installed Zorin for them. To my utter amazement they all transitioned fairly well.
    Windows is still hands down the best OS for many reasons and we won’t go into that!
    Also, I always try to talk my clients into SSD’s and more RAM, it makes those older systems come alive.

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