Since security and bug support for Windows Vista ended earlier this month, I’ve been bombarded with questions about the system. There aren’t a lot of Vista users still out there, but I’ve heard from a few.


“Regarding your Computer Tips on Vista no longer being supported: I am one of the small percentage you mentioned still using Vista.  I use this computer propped up in bed in the morning and happily play my 2008 Free Cell, Hearts, Spades,etc. I have tried them on my Windows 7 computer, but I like what\’s familiar better.  How can I continue to use Vista to play my “morning coffee games” but not be vulnerable on the internet. I have a router and can use the internet from any room on any computer. Thanks! Your advice in the past has been most helpful.”

“Questions for you regarding a computer with Vista.

1.  Is it safe to go to a site which has its own https like a bank or credit card company?

2.  Is it safe to use the computer for storage of photos and documents.  To use it for other purposes if not internet?”

“I have a computer with Vista.  I read your article today
and have three questions.
1.  Is it safe to use it for other purposes like print, scan
2.  Is it safe to go banking or credit card co when they have their own secure sites-https?
3.  Is it safe to read e-mail ?

I have Firefox.”

Offline use is not a problem at all. If you want to play games or do word processing or use it as a dedicated computer to make digital copies of your VHS and cassette tapes, there’s no problem at all. Unless you already have a virus or malware on your PC.

Any kind of online use is a different matter. No matter what your browser or third-party security system happens to be, they cannot fully protect Vista. Browsers and third-party security companies get their information about how to patch holes in Windows operating systems from Microsoft. Only Microsoft has the information about the building blocks of the system that allows them to correct security flaws.

If you feel like being risky – there are a couple of things you can do. First, don’t use Internet Explorer. IE 9 is the highest version that’s supported on Vista and it is just not safe. Switch to Chrome or Firefox or Opera.

You can also create a non-admin user account and log on with that. That limits the type of changes a hacker could make to your PC, should they get in.

Go the Control Panel and then User Accounts. Click on Manage Accounts or Manage another Account.

In the next window, click on Change Account type and in the next window that pops up, make certain the account is set to Standard.

Now, here’s a great way to stay safe on the Internet. If you use that Standard account to surf the Internet and read you re-mails, even if a malicious piece of code manages to get through, it can’t make any important changes to our computer. It can’t install and begin to steal your data.

If you do need to install a program or make changes to the settings, you can always switch over the administrator account.

I wouldn’t recommend this option. Now, you’d think that Vista users would be a lot safer than XP users. Since there are fewer of them, there are a lot fewer targets. But in the past few years, there’s been a disturbing trend when it comes to hackers. Crooks are selling do-it-yourself malware kits that don’t require much technical knowledge to execute. Just about anyone can be a hacker these days. The number of potential attackers is growing exponentially.

~ Cynthia