If you’re still using XP, get this Microsoft security patch to help protect against ransomware attacks. Also consider trying Linux. Plus more tips for Windows XP users.
There are many reasons why some people still use Windows XP, the best being that they can’t afford to upgrade their hardware and software to Windows 7. Or maybe they have tons of stuff on their Windows XP machine, and everything “just works.” They don’t want to go through the hassle of moving to another platform. (There is no simple upgrade from XP to Windows 7. It’s really more of a migration which also involves a learning curve.)
If you can’t or won’t give up your old Windows XP, you need to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL about using it on the Internet, since Microsoft no longer supports XP with security patches. EXCEPT…
The recent outbreak of ransomware attacks has caused Microsoft to issue a (rare) security patch for Windows XP. Get it from the Microsoft site here:
This patch is for Windows XP SP3. Almost anyone running Windows XP should be running it with the SP3 update. If you’re not sure, this article on Lifewire.com may help you identify which Windows version/service pack you have:
If you have Windows XP with the SP3 update, it should look something like this:
If you don’t have the SP3 update, install that first, BEFORE installing the anti-ransomware security patch.
Microsoft Information about the SP3 Update
For crass commercial reasons, Microsoft seems to have removed download links for the SP3 update. (They want you to buy a newer version of Windows.) If you need the SP3 update, it’s probably safe to download from MajorGeeks here:
Switching to Linux
If you’re stuck with Windows XP because you can’t afford a newer computer that will run Windows 7, another option is to switch to Linux. There is a learning curve, but Linux is a lot safer to use on the Internet than Windows, for the simple reason that most malware targets Windows operating systems and has little or no effect on Linux.
There are different flavours of Linux, called Linux “distros.” Many of them are more resource-efficient than Windows, so you might find your old Windows XP machine will really fly if you switch to Linux. Some free Linux distros which I can recommend for older machines include:
There’s also a hybrid solution for people who’ve made a major investment in hardware and software that runs on Windows XP but not Windows 7, such as older versions of commercial multimedia software, old scanners or audio/video cards with no Windows 7 drivers, etc. The solution is to use Windows XP for multimedia production, but keep it off the Internet. Install Linux on a bootable thumb drive, and use Linux for your Internet browsing activities. In Linux, you can use familiar applications like the Firefox web browser and Adobe Flash Player to play streaming video. There are also lightweight Linux music players like Audacious, DeaDBeeF, Radio Tray, and Streamtuner2. This is all free software, though most projects will welcome contributions.
More Tips for Windows XP Users
Back up all your personal files regularly to an external drive. Don’t leave the external drive connected to your computer or network. This way, if disaster strikes, you’ll still have all your important personal files available from the external drive. This is good advice for all computer users, but especially for Windows XP users concerned about possible ransomware attacks.
Firefox is my favourite browser to use on Windows XP. Unfortunately, Mozilla will be ending support for Windows XP. I recommend downloading Firefox 52 ESR (extended support release) hereabouts:
The above is the link for Firefox 52.0 ESR for Windows XP 32-bit, US English. If you need a slightly different version, check here:
If you’re stuck using Windows XP, be sure and download the latest security patch, as well as keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date. Remember to back up your personal files regularly, and also consider installing Firefox 52 ESR, which is the last version compatible with Windows XP. Try out Linux, for a safer Internet experience and more efficient computing. Nine out of ten penguinistas agree: Linux is geekolicious!
Here’s a download link for Google Chrome 48, 32-bit, Linux, for 32-bit versions of Peppermint OS, Linux Lite, Linux Mint, etc.:
If you’re thinking of becoming a penguinista, but miss the Windows look (BSOD?), you can always install this hybrid wallpaper:
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