Time to upgrade from Windows 8

Windows XP’s tombstone says that it had almost a 14-year lifespan when Microsoft finally pulled the plug on it in early 2014. Compare that to the modern-day “black sheep” of the Windows family, Windows 8, which Microsoft just whacked earlier this month. It is recommended that all computers running Windows 8 upgrade their software to Windows 8.1 or higher.

Most users who upgraded their older system to Windows 8 or bought a computer that came with Windows 8 (approximately between late 2012 to late 2013), and follow the automatic Windows Update process monthly should have been upgraded to Windows 8.1 before Microsoft discontinued Windows 8 on Jan. 12, 2016. You will continue to receive software updates until 2023. (FYI, Windows 7 will continue to receive security updates until early 2020.)

If, on the other hand, you explicitly declined upgrading to Windows 8.1 and/or declined all automatic Windows Updates month after month, there is a good chance you are running Windows 8. You will not receive updates any longer, which is a risky situation.

If you find out you are still on Windows 8, my recommendation is to backup your precious user data like documents and pictures onto another medium immediately (an external hard drive or USB thumb drive) and upgrade to Windows 8.1 or even Windows 10. If you were among the many users that despised Windows 8 due to its radical user interface change from previous versions of Windows, you may like Windows 10 better.

It’s not that your computer with Windows 8 will suddenly stop working, Windows XP continued to work beyond expiration date. However to keep using Windows 8 means that you are more susceptible to being victimized by nefarious entities when connected to the internet since you are not receiving security updates anymore and are most probably using an unsupported version of Microsoft’s web browser.

Questions about the digital world

I have a 3-year-old laptop that I love. It’s just acting a little sluggish compared to before. What can I do to speed it up?

The first thing you should do is to run a virus check to ensure that you don't have any malware on your computer. Next, you should make sure you have sufficient memory (aka RAM) installed. If your laptop passes both of those inspections, you may end up with a more responsive system by replacing your hard disk drive with a solid state drive (aka SSD).

While traditional hard drives have moving parts contributing to slowness, a SSD does not. A search of “SSD vs HDD speed” on YouTube turns up hundreds of videos showing the difference in speed, as well as installation instructions for DIYers. Before you start hacking away at your laptop, though, do some research to see how easy it is to replace the hard drive in your specific laptop model.

SSDs will also speed up mid-2012 and earlier Apple MacBook Pro laptops and the current “non-retina” MacBook Pro. Newer Macbook Pros – the retina models – come with SSDs installed.

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 9:54 AM, 01.19.2016