Identity theft: are you still using XP?

microsoft-xpBy Jim Eastin

Fourteen years ago the computer world changed with the introduction of Windows XP. It was a revolution in computing, more useful than the previous versions and was overwhelmingly adopted by the business world. Over the years almost every home and business moved to it. Even though Microsoft has now updated two complete versions (Windows 7 and Windows 8) and has stopped providing updates and security patches, over 1/2 billion computers are still running it. Are you using one of them? If you are there is something you should do to protect yourself while using it in our current hacker crazy world.

Windows SteadyState

Your new best friend is an old program called SteadyState. When XP was first distributed Microsoft created a special free program to go with it for libraries and schools. It was called SteadyState. Schools and libraries needed something special because in those environments many people use a single computer. Since it isn’t their computer, they will do all kinds of things with it that they would never do on their own system. They download bad programs, visit bad websites, change settings and even the registry. SteadyState was designed to take a snapshot of the system when it was first set up, then every time the computer was restarted it restores the computer to that snapshot. Whatever mistakes were made in the meantime are erased from the computer.

If this sounds good to you, there are a few things you should know. First, remember that this program was designed for school and libraries, not for you. So Microsoft does not make it easy to find. Second, it is a little geeky; you must be willing to read the instructions carefully when setting it up. Finally, since it throws away everything that has been done since the last restart, nothing will be saved on the C: drive. You must use a thumb drive or external drive to save documents and photos.

Of course, all the other safety rules I have shared in previous columns still apply, but SteadyState can be a real help if you want to keep using Windows XP safely.

Suggestion for the week: give SteadyState a try. You can uninstall it if you don’t like it.

If you have any feedback about this column, suggestions about a topic you would like me to discuss, or want me to come do a free identity theft seminar at your church or social club, contact me at www.JimEastinLS.com

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