In 2017, documents were leaked detailing how the NSA infiltrated servers and PCs running Windows. Hackers took notice, and one consequence was the WannaCry attack. The attack paralyzed the National Health Services in the United Kingdom, among others, as they were running old software, like Windows XP.
Even though Microsoft had released a security patch earlier that year “covering supported releases of Microsoft Windows” many users did not update their devices, leaving them exposed to the devastating ransomware attacks. A second group was also vulnerable: anyone using non-supported releases of Windows.
Take note: On January 14, 2020 Windows 7 and Server 2008 will move into this unsupported category. You won’t notice a change on January 15, 2020, but your organization will become significantly more vulnerable if you haven’t upgraded. Hackers know this and will be ready to exploit it to their advantage.
Why Upgrading to Windows 10 and Server 2016 Matters
Cyber threats are only one concern. Here are other reasons you need to upgrade:
Without the upgrade, you won’t be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or any other regulations because you can no longer regularly update and patch systems as required.
New Devices will Not be Compatible
At some point, new devices will stop communicating with older technology. You may not be able to use the printer, or critical applications won’t run.
IT Support Will Become More Expensive
When you use older technology, IT providers need to provide extra training to their staff who are unfamiliar with the system. This cost may be passed on to you.
Mistakes to Avoid
Delaying an upgrade creates more work the longer you wait. Conversely, planning ahead lets you break the goal into manageable pieces. If you spread an update out over five years, then you only need to complete 20 percent each year. That will help you manage the necessary upgrades over time. This should be part of a rolling refresh plan.
However, it’s not too late to add upgrading to your tech goals for 2019. However, you will need to start now to meet the deadline. By October most managed IT services providers will be booked, and unable to help you switch.
2. Assuming Switching Will be Complex and Disruptive
Upgrading to Windows 10 and Server 2016 will only cause minimal disruption. When we upgrade a user to Windows 10 it usually takes less than an hour. At this time, we also provide high-level training and answer any questions your staff has. You can also use our QuickHelp for a short, fun training session delivered by one of our experts.
Servers are even less disruptive to upgrade because all work occurs after hours. Once you’ve closed, we bring in the new server and copy applications over. We test the new system and then take the old server(s) out. The next morning, employees won’t notice a difference.
Migrations to Azure follow the same process, except that it is in the cloud instead of on-premise.
3. Trying to Prolong Life of Hardware
Once you pay for hardware, it is tempting to keep using the device until it dies. But most hardware has a five-year lifespan, within which the device works reliably and can handle new software. Though, just because it is functioning doesn’t mean it is running optimally.
While we’d generally upgrade to Windows 10 on devices less than three years old, once a PC is more than three years old we recommend buying a new computer with Windows 10 already installed.
4. Using Old Hardware with New Software
If you do keep an older PC and try to run Windows 10, or any other new software, it’s likely that you’ll encounter issues. The horsepower left on older machines is minimal, and the device won’t be able to keep up with the new operating system or run compatible applications. In this scenario, productivity will drop and downtime will increase.
5. Not Checking if Applications are Compatible
Some applications do not automatically update or require you to pay a fee for the latest release. This can go unnoticed until you upgrade other technology (i.e. moving to Windows 10) and you realize the application no longer works.
During an upgrade, we always check that old applications are compatible with new devices. If an application is not compatible, you will need to upgrade that at the same time as the new system so that you do not encounter unexpected issues.
Continuing to procrastinate will only shorten your available time frame. When you’re ready to talk about upgrading, our experts at Applied Tech can help assess your needs and guide you through any transition.