Upgrading Windows XP to either Windows 7 or Windows 8 is critical both from a cost perspective and security point of view. It¹s easy to measure the amount of money you'll spend trying to get an aged Windows XP system to work when things go wrong.
But it's hard to put a price on your data. A data compromise due to a new virus can have immeasurable costs to the business that may last for years.
Here are my top tips in migrating whilst you still can!
1. Get Windows 7, not 8
If you're accustomed to the Windows XP layout and style, upgrading to Windows 7 might be a better choice than Windows 8. The feel of the operating system is very similar and you'll most likely be pleasantly surprised with all of the feature upgrades that make the Windows 7 operating system run smoother than Windows XP.
There's still plenty of life left in Windows 7. It doesn¹t go EOL until the year 2020 and by that time you're almost certainly have upgraded the hardware anyway which will come with the latest operating system
2. Go 32-bit if you're not sure
You'll most likely want to choose the 32-bit platform due to the age of the hardware. It's very unlikely you're running a 64-bit processor in the older machine. So choose Windows 7 or Windows 8 32-bit edition.
3. Find out what version you're running
Determine if you have Windows XP Home or Pro. If you are on a tight budget, consider upgrading to Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic. These should be cheaper than the Pro editions.
4. Backup, backup, backup
When performing the upgrade, of course copy your most sensitive files to a USB thumb-drive or another computer on the network. If the computer hardware is too old and doesn't support USB, consider uploading the files online to something like DropBox. Although the upgrade should save your data, always assume the worst and make backups of your personal data.
5. Export your bookmarks
If you have a lot of bookmarks or favourites saved in your web browser, consider exporting them or even writing down the links to your most important ones. You may need these later.
6. Make a note of your license keys
It's likely that some software will no longer run on the newer version of Windows. Compatibility has been made better throughout the years between Windows XP and Windows 7, so most should be fine.
Make sure you write save or write down any license keys for software on the Windows XP system as you¹ll need them if you re-install later.
7. Check licenses
When re-installing software, check with the software vendor to see if the license qualifies for Windows 7/8. In some cases, you may need to download the latest version of a previous version of the software in order to keep the license.
If you decide not to upgrade, which is not the ideal choice, you should probably disconnect the computer from the Internet and bury yourself in the ground!
If you're using software that requires the Internet, take the plunge and upgrade as soon as possible. The money you'll be spending will pay itself back without a doubt (minus the coffin).
Paul Martini is CEO of iboss Network Security