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Unplugged XP

Monday, November 25th, 2013 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Using The Internet

Paul from Cairns, Australia writes:

Not so much a question as a comment. I read all the quick tips with interest and learn a lot from questions I would like to ask. In particular all the comments about the demise of XP. All the issues concerning it’s demise (apart from Microsoft’s financial ones) relate to security. My old XP computer is not hooked up the internet and never will be. I use it for word docs, spreadsheets and Photoshop etc and share an external hard drive with my Windows 7 computer if I need to up/download something. It is incredibly freeing not to have to worry about viruses or spyware etc and just get on with what I am doing.

Actually, Paul that’s a great idea. I think I’ve mentioned it in passing before in other articles, but never gotten into the idea in-depth. If you have another device for going online, there’s no reason not to keep your XP computer in use off-line. Windows XP isn’t going to stop working when Microsoft stops doing security updates.

It wouldn’t be difficult to use another computer, a tablet or even a smartphone for your e-mail and internet browsing. I would be cautious about putting new files on your XP computer. If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer with up-to-date security, you can check files there first before moving them onto your XP computer. There is always the possibility that someone could come up with a new exploit for XP that might sneak past security updates for Windows 7 and 8. Creating and taking files off you XP computer is much safer than loading anything onto your XP computer.

The idea that having an “unplugged” computer can pick up your productivity, is a valid one. In fact, there are several apps for writers that prevent you from accessing the Internet while in use. And an XP computer would certainly work fine for the tasks you’ve described.

But anyone who makes the decision needs to stick with it. No using your XP computer to hop on the Internet for just a minute or two when no other connection is available.

~ Cynthia


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2 Responses to “Unplugged XP”

  1. Ron MVP says:

    In theory, yes a standalone XP computer will be secure.
    BUT …
    In practice, the “average user” (and even the “above average” user) will not be able to maintain the required discipline for very long. Sooner or later someone (they or another user of their computer) will slip up.

    Effectively you have to make it a “read only” system, in that it only sends data out, it NEVER reads any file that has been anywhere near the internet. In practice that means the only method of transferring files is CD R and DVD R, not USB or even DVD/CD RW. The only method I can think of inputing new files is via a scanner and OCR program. ie you have a dedicated scanner hardware (such as an all-in-one printer/scanner device) permanently plugged in to the XP computer. You scan documents and use OCR to convert them into a format that the user can text edit.

    Don’t forget, Iran’s nuclear program was supposed to be a totally isolated computer system/network. No internet connection. Yet, the Stuxnet virus was able to get past nuclear scientist users and draconian physical security imposed by a country effectively at war with the US, and specific elements of their hardware was damaged. What chance does the average home user have of keeping their unconnected XP computer clean for very long.

    Ultimately, the best way I can think of to keep an XP computer “clean” is to setup an XP virtual computer on a CD/DVD R disk. When you need XP, you load the clean XP image into your virtualization software. The XP session may be successfully attacked and hacked there, but the hack will not be saved to affect your next run of the image.

  2. Donna Thompson says:

    I have a Vista laptop and was planning to download from the internet the embroidery designs from a number of reliable sources and then transfer them via USB to my XP computer (not upgradeable) which runs my Embroidery software on my embroidery machine. Am I to understand that this is not a safe way to do so and that I would be safer to save from my Vista to a CD R and then copy from there to the XP for use to embroider the item?

    I also have a desk top XP that I would like to upgrade to 7. Is that reasonable? How long would you expect MS to continue support to Vista and 7? Would using 7 to download designs and then transfer via USB be any safer than to do so with Vista as I mentioned above? I have been warned by everyone that I have talked to (and that is a lot of people) to avoid 8. Is there anything totally new on the horizon that might be better than 8?
    I started years ago with DOS and I am really getting tired of MS and their “wonderful” changes. I would buy a Mac but my embroidery software won’t run with Mac…even virtual windows on a Mac. DARN!

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