In less than a year millions of folks are going to be using PCs without virus and malware protection unless they either buy a new computer or upgrade their current one to a new operating system.

On January 13, 2020, Microsoft is ending all security and bug support for Windows 7 devices. Windows 7 is currently running on about 37% of all personal computers and 42% of all Windows computers.

Even if you have third-party security, it won’t be able to do an effective job protecting your PC. Third-party security companies receive vital information from Microsoft for security patches. When Microsoft stops providing that information and those patches, they won’t be able to fix any new threats.

Windows 7 users are in a slightly better position than XP and Vista users were. Most Windows 7 PCs can be upgraded to Windows 10 and preserve all of your current files and programs. (Nearly all programs. There are some like Media Center that are part of the Windows 7 operating system that you’ll lose.) That was not the case with most XP and Vista PCs. Now, the time for the free upgrade to Windows 10 has passed, so you’d have to pay for a license key.  That will run you around a $129 for the Home edition and $189 for Windows 10 Pro. You can check out your options here:

It’s also a good time to think about a new PC that will probably be faster than your last one. Pricing for basic laptops start at just over $200 and there are also a lot of refurbished PCs out there. Another option would be to switch to the free Linux operating system. Or you could stop going online with your PC. (That means no Internet connection. No email, no surfing the web, no messaging.) Another possibility would to be a dual-boot with a Linux operating system and use that for Internet activity.