How to protect your Windows XP system after April 2014

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 21, 2014
Updated • Jul 19, 2017
Windows, Windows XP

You know by now -- probably - that Microsoft will retire the Windows XP operating system for good come April 2014. It is also likely that you won't notice lots of changes after that day, at least not initially.

While new security patches won't be released for Windows XP, everything else will work just like it did before.

The core issue here is that new vulnerabilities that are detected after end of support won't get fixed anymore, leaving the system vulnerable to these kind of attacks.

That's a problem that Windows XP users have to take care of. While some may upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, or switch to Linux instead, others may not want to do so.

If you are one of those users, who wants to keep running XP on the PC, you may want to improve the protection of the system, especially if you connect to the Internet or networks regularly.

The tools of the trade

You can mitigate many dangers with an open mind and experience. Basically, don't open unknown executable files, email attachments, or click on links if you are asked to do. There is more to that, but that is better left for another guide.

This guide looks at software that you may want to run on Windows XP after April, or right now if you want, to make sure the system is protected from most dangers it faces after end of support.

Lets get started.

1. Sandbox

A sandboxing application is highly recommended. Sandboxie puts the browser, or other high profile targets that you select, in a sandbox on the system which limits interaction with the underlying system. While everything works as before, malware and attacks targeting programs that run in the sandbox won't affect the underlying system automatically.

Sandboxie can be used free of charge with some limitations. There are alternatives available, such as BufferZone Pro.

2. Exploit Mitigation

If someone manages to attack your system and get past the system defenses, it may still be possible to block the attack. This is were exploit mitigation tools such as EMET or Anti-Exploit come into play. EMET is a Microsoft program which means it is not clear if it will remain available after end of support.

The programs detect common exploit attempts and block them from being executed properly.

3. Firewall

A firewall controls network traffic. It allows or denies connection attempts based no rules that are either configured automatically, or set by the user.

It is highly suggested to add a firewall to Windows XP. If you are using security software, it may come with a firewall. If not, use something like Comodo Firewall, Private Firewall or Outpost Firewall Free (direct link, program no longer updated) instead.

4. Antivirus

You do need proper antivirus protection as well. While a lot can be handled with common sense, having a second line of defense on your system is recommended.

Do not just rely on Microsoft Security Essentials, as it is too basic in terms of protection and detection to be efficient. Instead, use a better product such as Avast Free Antivirus, or Bitdefender Antivirus Free for protection.

5. Misc

Now that we have covered security software, it is essential to go over other important security aspects.

I recommend that you keep all programs that connect to the Internet up to date at all times. You can use a program like SUMO for that to make things easier.

Especially web browsers, email clients, messaging software, and browser plug-ins need to be up to date. As far as plug-ins are concerned, if you do not need them, uninstall them. If you do not need Java, uninstall it, or at the very least, cut its browser connection.

It may make sense to run security extensions in your browser of choice as well. I highly recommend NoScript for Firefox, but there are others that you can use instead. Check out our Firefox or Chrome recommendations.

Closing Words

There is no need to panic right now. If your system is properly protected, it is unlikely that XP's end of support will have a huge impact on it. While it is still recommended to switch to a supported operating system, you can make it a lot harder for attackers to gain access or control of your system.

How to protect your Windows XP system after April 2014
Article Name
How to protect your Windows XP system after April 2014
Find out how to protect Windows XP computer systems that don't receive any more security patches by Microsoft after April 2014.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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