Can I Still Use Vista?

Can I Still Use Vista?

Since security and bug support for Windows Vista ended in April, 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.

I am one of the small percentage of people who still use Vista. I use this computer propped up in bed in the morning and happily play my 2008 Free Cell, Hearts, Spades ,and so on. 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? Thanks!

Here are some other questions I’ve received regarding using a computer with Vista:

  • Is it safe to go to a site that has its own https, such as a bank or credit card company?
  • Is it safe to use the computer for storing photos and documents and for purposes other than going on the internet?
  • Is it safe for uses such as printing, scanning, and storage?
  • Is it safe to read email?

Offline use of computers running Vista 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, it 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. [Ed. note: Since Microsoft is no longer supporting Vista, these companies will no longer receive information on how to patch holes.]

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. This will limit the type of changes a hacker can make to your PC, should they get in.

Go to Control Panel and then User Accounts. Click on Manage accounts or Manage another account.

In the next window, click on Change the 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 your emails, even if a malicious piece of code manages to get through, it can’t make any important changes to your computer. It can’t install things 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 to the administrator account. I wouldn’t recommend this option, though.

Now, you’d think that Vista users would be a lot safer than XP users because there are fewer Vista users and therefore fewer targets. But in the past several years, a disturbing trend has started 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
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