While XP still ‘works’, it’s no longer safe to use. In 2014, Microsoft stopped providing all-important security updates and fixes that keep an OS protected. This means that any XP computer – particularly if connected to the web – is vulnerable to attack.
If you’re still running an XP computer, it’s time to upgrade. This either means installing a new operating system on the same computer, or buying a new machine.
NHS ransomware attack
The risks of running Windows XP were exposed by the recent ransomware virus attack that devastated NHS computer servers and further systems around the world. Although the NHS had a contract in place for ongoing XP support from Microsoft, alleged failures to keep the systems up-to-date left computers vulnerable.
For more, see our guide on how to spot a ransomware scam
Will security software protect Windows XP?
Even running up-to-date security software on a Windows XP computer won't guarantee that it's safe to use. Day-to-day viruses may be blocked, but severe threats to the integrity of the operating system need top-down security patches delivered by Microsoft. Windows XP (and Windows Vista, after April 2017) no longer receive such patch updates.
Many antivirus providers no longer guarantee to support XP. Even if you're running software that claims to be Windows XP compatible, it's a risk to go online with an XP computer.
How to upgrade from Windows XP
However, XP users won’t get a free upgrade to Windows 10 (it will cost £100). It’s important to check if your computer has the specs needed for a newer OS (see the Windows 10 operating system requirements).
It may be simpler to buy a new computer. There are some great deals to be had on new PCs - check our Which? reviews of the best laptops.