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How Can You Tell If Your Computer Is Dangerously Out-of-Date?

March 09 2020

laptop notebookIf your work computer is more than four years old, it's time for a replacement. You can blame it on "Moore's Law."

American engineer Gordon Moore observed in 1965 that the number of transistors that can be packed per silicon chip doubles about every two years. Known as "Moore's Law," it helps explain why every couple of years, new models of personal computers and smartphones can do things that their predecessors couldn't do before and also can do everything faster and better.

But there's perhaps a more important reason you should replace your aging desktop or laptop: it will make your work-life safer. The older your computer is, the higher the potential dangers.

The problem is that when you use a computer with an out-of-date operating system, and that includes both Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS, you are putting work you have created on your computer at risk.

Unfortunately, old computer use remains a significant problem.

In mid-January this year, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7. This means that Microsoft will no longer provide technical support for any issues, will not be providing any additional software updates, and more importantly, no more security updates or fixes.

However, despite being over ten years old, Windows 7 is still in use by one-third of all computers worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

Yes, keeping your browser updated helps, but it won't fully protect your computer against hackers. Remember the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017? More than 200,000 computers across 150 countries were affected when millions of Windows XP computers became vulnerable to attack.

Mac users know that while Apple recommends using the latest version of their operating systems, as Macs age, they eventually don't meet the upgrade specifications. And that makes using these Macs with out-of-date operating systems more vulnerable as well.

And the likelihood of an attack on Macs is increasing. The prevalence of Mac threats in 2019 was up over 400 percent from 2018, according to a recent study by Malwarebytes Labs.

How can you check the age of your Windows computer?

If you don't know how old your computer is, there is a simple way to discover when it was manufactured.

For a Windows PC, you can check when the BIOS was installed via the command prompt, in three steps:

  1. In the Windows taskbar search box, type "cmd" and hit enter
  2. Once the Command Prompt window opens, type "systeminfo.exe" and hit enter
  3. Look for "BIOSVersion:" by scrolling down and you will see the date listed

This should be pretty close to your manufactured date unless, of course, your BIOS has been updated.

Another simple way to check a Windows computer's age is to look at the date of your files in your C: drive using these three steps:

  1. In the Windows taskbar search box, type "file explore" and hit enter
  2. Look on the left side of File Explorer for "This PC" and click on it
  3. Now double-click on "Local Disk (C:)"
  4. Click on the "Date modified" tab twice to find the date of the oldest folder

This is likely to give you a date that should give you an idea of how old your computer is.

How can you check the age of your Mac?

On a Mac, it's also straightforward to determine its age in just a couple of steps:

  1. Click on the Apple icon at the far left top of your screen
  2. Select "About this Mac" in the pull-down bar, and the first line should show both the model and the year it was manufactured.

Apple often uses one model a year and a time period – Early, Mid or Late – to distinguish between different Macs when there have been changes within that year. Three examples: MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2010) and MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008) and MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018).

Update for safety

Buying a new work computer at least every four years can help protect your data and keep your client information safer. You'll also benefit from a vastly improved computer experience.

And if you are like the majority of Realtors in North America and have access to Tech Helpline, owned and operated by Florida Realtors and available nationwide, our technical analysts are eager to help you get your new computer all set up.

If you don't have access as a member benefit from your local MLS to unlimited free support from Tech Helpline, tell your MLS to check out techhelpline.com!

Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.