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.
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
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 But is that a good reason to stay with an outdated OS?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Even Windows lookalikes exist like Linux FX.
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.
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.
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, 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.