Story image

Windows XP: Some tips for SMBs

31 Mar 14

It’s been a long time coming, but Microsoft is finally removing support for Windows XP (as well as Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2003) on April 8, 2014.

Hopefully you’ve already taken steps to either upgrade to the latest operating systems or removed old systems off the network.

It’s also a good idea to be aware of what could happen after the support deadline. Here are some tips:

1. Migrate NOW

By now, you should be well on your way to migrating all systems to the latest OS, and if you haven’t, well, time is running out… fast.

Even if you’re confident that everything’s in order, it’s worth spending some time rooting around for instances of XP, Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2003 that may have been missed. The asset tracking feature in GFI Cloud can help with this.

2. Assess whether you’re going to run out of time

If you’re seriously behind on your migration, or you have systems that have to remain on XP for the time being, make some detailed plans to reduce your risk exposure to a bare minimum.

For example, if you have an unsupported machine containing essential historical data:

· Can this be closed off from the Internet after the support deadline?

· Is the vendor of the software you are using on the machine still supporting it under XP?

Whatever the circumstances, keeping one or more of these machines in a production environment increases the risks – make sure your backup and recovery plans are detailed to counter the threat to your business.

3. Hire a migration specialist

If a shortage of time and/or expertise is preventing a migration, consider calling in a specialist to help. Yes, there will be costs; but XP is a 12-year-old operating system that is now several generations behind current software.

Ensuring that your business is up-to-date is operationally critical – after all it will be the in-house IT admins having to deal with the clean-up if any systems are hacked or infected by malware.

4. Explore alternative ways of funding an upgrade

Thankfully, for those businesses where cost really is an issue, there are now numerous ways to spread the expense. With subscription-based cloud services firms can easily move to the latest version of Office, for example, without a huge up-front spend in licensing. Moving away from XP and Office 2003 doesn’t have to mean a huge capital spend.

5. Share your experiences

If your migration from XP is under way, share your experiences with the IT community. For example, if you find a good way to isolate an unsupported server, let other people know how you did it via technical forums such as Spiceworks. This is a great way to “pay it forward” and contribute to a body of information that will help people in a similar position.

6. Protect your system from other IT threats

If you will not manage to migrate in time, then make sure you have the necessary security measures in place. Automate patching and antivirus updates to give you more time to deal with any fallout from problems that arise on XP systems still in use.

The main priority should be to “beat the deadline”. If you don’t think you’re going to manage it, at least have some detailed risk mitigation plans in place – along with a plan to stop using XP as soon as possible after the deadline.

In the meantime, you can save time with GFI Cloud’s automated patch management and anti-virus controlled from a single online console. There’s a free trial – no credit card required.

By Jackie Wake, Product Manager, GFI Software

Soul Machines' virtual humans go mainstream
An Auckland AI firm renowned for its work creating ‘digital humans’ is now unleashing its creativity to the wider market.
Hands-on review: The Logitech R500 laser presentation remote
With a clever ergonomic design, you’ll never have to glance at the device, unless you deliberately look to use the built-in laser pointer to emphasise your presentation.
GCSB welcomes Inspector-General's report on intelligence warrants
Intelligence warrants can include surveillance, private communications interception, searches of physical places and things, and the seizure of communications, information and things.
Lightning Lab accelerator delves into tourism
“It’s great to see the tourism sector taking a proactive and collaborative approach to innovation."
Apax Partners wins bidding war for Trade Me buyout
“We’re confident Trade Me would have a successful standalone future," says Trade Me chairman David Kirk
Verifi takes spot in Deloitte Asia Pacific Fast 500
"An increasing amount of companies captured by New Zealand’s Anti-Money laundering legislation are realising that an electronic identity verification solution can streamline their customer onboarding."
Homegrown stress relief app to be launched next year
Researchers at the University of Auckland and an Auckland-based creative agency are working together to create a ‘world first’ app that they believe will help with stress relief.
How blockchain will impact NZ’s economy
Distributed ledgers and blockchain are anticipated to provide a positive uplift to New Zealand’s economy.