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Microsoft retired its 12-year-old Windows XP operating system on Tuesday. Even so, there are still millions of XP computers out there. If you have one of these, do the following:

What will happen on Tuesday?

– Microsoft Corp. will release its final update to fix known security vulnerabilities for XP.

– After that, the XP machine will still work and you can install past security updates. You won’t get new ones to address any new security holes.

– Your machine will be exposed to greater security risks. Because hackers know that Microsoft will no longer release updates, they have an extra incentive to hunt for security holes.

Can I upgrade my computer?

– Check here to see if your computer is running Windows XP:

– If yes, run the tool here to see if your computer is powerful enough to upgrade:

– If you can upgrade, you can buy the latest Windows 8 version on DVD for $120:

– You will need to back up your files and have discs of old programs ready, as the upgrade will require your hard drive to be wiped. Microsoft has a step-by-step tutorial:

– Remember, the $120 is better spent on a new computer. You’ll get something stronger.

What if I continue to use my XP computer regardless of the risk?

– Make sure to run all previously released updates, plus the last update released on Tuesday.

– If you don’t need internet connection, please unplug it. This will minimize the risk. Be careful connecting USB storage drives as this may introduce malware.

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– If you need to go online, please avoid email, Facebook and other communication channels where malware can spread.

– It’s a good idea to lock down your computer with a profile that lacks administrative rights and remove old software that you no longer need.

Where can I get more information?

– What End of Support means: – Upgrade information: upgrade to windows-8

By Rebecca French

Rebecca French writes books about Technology and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Technology Shout, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller...