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Is XP Protectable? Why Anti-Virus Won’t Work


People don’t want to give up on Windows XP, many like Fredrick are hoping they can find a way to protect it.

Frederick from Las Vegas, NV writes “After I was told that I was missing some DLL keys and needed to reload my OS (XP), if possible, or get a new computer. Since I am not pleased with Windows 7 or 8, I had XP reloaded and was told that XP had not been supported for the past 7 years. My question: Will a good antivirus program, ie McAfee, protect me from hurt, harm, and danger? Maybe Windows 10 will be the improved program but until then, XP is still Number ONE.”


Hi, Frederick.  Thanks for the great question.

Official Microsoft support for XP ended on April 7th of 2014  It has not only been supported for the last seven years, but has been the OS of choice for a lot of people, like you.

There will be a number of problems for you if you continue to use XP.  For one thing, Norton and McAfee, as well as the other anti-virus software program suppliers will stop supporting XP as well.  That means that, ultimately, they will stop working as well.

Another problem that you’ll have is that other software manufacturers will ultimately stop providing updates to their XP software, so you’ll start noticing issues with this software, and it will ultimately stop working as well, especially those that require a third-party software to run, such as Flash and Java.


Probably the biggest problem, though, is bad guys.  It is a trueism that bad guys will frequently ruin things for the rest of us, and they are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in your OS that they can exploit.  And the fact is that your anti-virus software will not protect you from a lot of these, because they are not viruses.  What this would mean for you as an XP user is that every time you go online, hacker bots would immediately start searching for ways to get into your system to steal passwords and usernames, as well as any other information that you have stored on your hard drive.  Many of these exploits require no time for the bot to get into your system.

I understand that switching to 8 is a big jump for someone who loves XP, as a matter of fact, I wrote an article about it that can be found here, but I think that the change will be worthwhile for you.  Not only will it provide you with added protection, it will make it so that you can continue running the programs that you use and love. Also, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade to those using Windows 7 & 8 later this summer.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

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15 Responses to “Is XP Protectable? Why Anti-Virus Won’t Work”

  1. Robert Jones says:

    The one thing they don’t talk about when pushing to move to W7 or W8 is the drivers for those old scanners/printers will not work on these new os systems as with many other apps. Keep your old PC/Laptop with XP if this is important and buy a new machine for online use only.

    • Steve says:

      I use win xp on all my Computers and I use Microsoft Security Essentials on all of them instead of the free Mcafee that Cox cable provides. MS still updates some things for Win XP. I have 11 Computers . I tested Win 8, before it came out. it OK if you like it. You just got to use it often and learn to fix it when you got a problem. I started using Computers sense the 1980’s
      from Dos to now. Just don’t download a lot of junk on your XP.
      MS security essentials is available on MS website.

  2. JJM says:

    With proprietary software that will not run on Win 7, thanks for the reminder that I need to stock up on some peripheral hardware before all versions are upgraded and will not integrate with the XP drivers.
    What is a good way to determine all the drivers that are installed for plug-in devices and/or what device the driver is for?

  3. Randal says:

    Hi, guys. Thanks for the great comments.

    Drivers have always been a problem. Once again, I realize that I’m older than dirt, but I remember my first run-in with this. I got a “great deal” on a second-hand scanner for my Windows 98 computer. When I upgraded to ME, it continued to work fine. With the advent of XP, however… not so much.

    It’s up to the device manufacturer to make new drivers when a new OS comes out. If the device is so old that they see no profit in doing that, they won’t. Personally, I haven’t tripped across a device yet with an XP driver that hasn’t had an upgraded driver released, but I’m sure that they’re out there.

    The reason that Windows won’t work with drivers sometimes (known in the trade as “backward-compatibility”) is the same reason that Playstation and PS2 games had to be re-written to work on your PS3. Sony made a decision to make their system more advanced instead of “dumbing” parts of it down for the sake of compatibility with old software. It’s the same problem with Windows. As the OS becomes more advanced, they simply can’t restrict parts of it so that it will continue to work with older devices.

    And JJM, I don’t personally know of a way to determine all of the drivers on your system. When you upgrade to your new OS though, all of your devices should immediately go out and search for new drivers when you hook them up.


  4. Darren says:

    Can I upgrade my XP for free? and what do I have to upgrade to first?


  5. Victor Moore says:

    I bought a new windows 7 computer when support expired for XP. I kept my old XP because some of my programs would not work on 7. I have gotten used to 7, use it on line, and love it. Question; Will I encounter the same software problem compatibility if I switch to 10? Also how much of a learning curve will I encounter if I go from 7 to 10. Personally I am getting too old to keep making constant changes from one OS to another

  6. ron palozola says:

    can’t use older software from XP on 7 or probably 8, 10.

  7. Frederic says:

    I too am running XP Pro and LOVE it!! I am on a fixed income ($733/mth Social Security). Got disabled early in life so could not afford to get 7,8 etc. Will 10 work with everything I own like my XP does. Will that be offered to us who run XP or XP Pro??

    Thank You and may GOD bless you all for any and all help.

  8. Camille says:

    Is there a “shell” that lets a newer OS behave like XP? I bought Stardock for a one-time fee of $5. and the computer has the look and behavior of Windows 7.

  9. Donald Stoneburner says:

    I have XP an also got a windows7 not to bad but changed to 10 an it is junk , I tried to switch back to 7 but they said all of my 7 was lost an I did it before the 30 days was up now I am stuck with 10 an I do not like it

    • cynthia says:

      How did you try to change back? Did you use the follow the “Go Back To Your Previous Operating System” method under restore?

    • Chris says:

      I asked the same question to a Geek Squad person at Best Buy and was told that once Windows 10 was installed, you would have to bring the computer into the store for them to take it back to Windows 7…..I feared Windows 10 but after I saw Microsoft automatically installed it (and I NEVER reserved it), I didn’t know what to do next when I saw the screen so the Geek Squad walked me through getting it operational and you know what……it’s nothing to fear as far as I can see……I’m doing what I’ve only done on the puter…….except can’t play solitaire in Win 10 because Microsoft excluded it……that’s okay…..I found one Googling because I avoid APPS. Also, I had AOL install their latest version because something I used to be able to do before I could not do after WIN 10 installed….and AOL’s new version install solved that problem. Also, one difference you can readily see in Win 10 is the Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen… don’t left click like you used to, you right-click now to get to what that box used to show when you left clicked on it. I am not computer-savvy at all, so you can rest easy when I say Win 10 is nothing to be afraid of.

  10. Don't want new! says:

    I’ using 64 bit Win-10 Pro (N) – upgraded from Win 7 – and there are Nice and B’-ell changes – not least of which is that MS update their OS that you are running on your PC.
    I’ve come across very few Win-7 to Win-10 compatibility problems – many where ‘stuff’ was being run in XP under 7
    There are, however many compatibility problems to be encountered moving from XP (and 32 bit) to Win-10 or to 64 bit OS. both hardware (printers comms, sound) and software.
    I have resurrected a few XP systems from the ‘Recovery’ partitions – and major annoyances are that MS (update) doesn’t want to work with IE6 or IE7, and IE8 won’t install until you are at SP3+ some other fixes – look at wsofflineupdate – download a set of fixes for XP SP1 on & office2003?.
    The updating process may well kill off Defender – but later in the update process re-install and activate it, currently downloading the definition updates.
    Then there is email – many ISP’s and email support facilities won’t work with OE6, and you may also experience problems with newsreader’s and other organisations that won’t communicate with any system running XP, or browsers also considered outdated such as IE8.

    Then again – anyone running XP should NOT be using any browser to do online activities except to specific sites such as the Microsoft updates one.
    Banking – check the terms of your usage – most specify you must be using supported and secure systems or they have no liability or responsibility for any loss – and if they get annoyed – then it’s legally YOUR fault!

    So –
    1) Backup your XP – and expect to need to restore the OS image
    2) Backup your data onto a cycle of storage facilities – latest malware will ‘do-over’ your OS, your apps, your data, any connected storage, including whatever backups it can get at!
    3) keep the XP system isolated from all your other computing – phones included

    4) Consider that Win 7 support ends soon, and 8 will follow soon, but Win 10 is currently FREE – so maybe get a cheap second computer now before the new OS costs more than a new PC.
    Yes saving money now will probably cost you much more later, even without malware! – remember the hardware running your XP is probably out-of warrantee.
    (if not – then consider in a reasonably cheap new PC:
    A 2TB drive is about double the speed of a 3 year old 260GB one,
    Memory is about double the speed and you can expect 2 or 4GB for the price of a 512MB upgrade to the old system
    CPU – expect a cheap one to give about 50% better throughput
    USB-3 lots faster than USB-2, and some devices are cheaper with USB-3 than USB-2.

    Then – with the second computer you can do a leisurely move over to that from the XP system, only using the XP system for what won’t run under Win-10.

  11. isabelle says:

    My “notebook” is XP and stopped using it back 4/14 HOWEVER I use this computer to transfer embroidery designs, that I download to a “stick” from my win 8.1, and connect to XP to sewing machine to operate for embroidery design sewing I don’t go “online” for this but that availability is there on this little computer Am I safe using the notebook This is the only thing I use this computer for and does have Norton on it which gets updated or so it tells me I don’t know how to disable the “Internet connetion” to use offline only
    Thank you for any info you can offer me

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