Three points to check before you buy an antivirus for Windows XP

Windows XP isn’t just old, it’s now officially, dead, which means that Microsoft any form of updates, in other words, you can now forget about security patches.  Notwithstanding this, however, there are still some people out there who can’t upgrade (because they need software which only runs on Windows XP) or who just don’t want to upgrade (because their machine is working fine and they don’t see any reason to change). 

If that sounds like you, then you absolutely must protect your Windows XP machine with the best security software you can find.  With that in mind, here are three points to check before you buy an antivirus for Windows XP.

Windows XP Antivirus

Check that you’ve done everything else you can to secure your Windows XP computers

Hopefully you will have installed all the patches which were made available up to April 8th 2014.  If you haven’t then you need to do so as a priority. If you have, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have those patches stored offline somewhere, just in case you need to reinstall your operating system.

For similar reasons, it’s advisable to take a good look at your software, clean out anything except the programs you really need (or ones you really love) and make sure that these are kept as up-to-date as possible.  If you use any niche software, again, it’s probably best to keep any patches stored offline just in case you need to reinstall.

Speaking of software, it’s recommended to ditch IE and install Pale Moon which is a spin-off from Firefox and still supports Windows XP.  Even so, it’s still a good idea to disable Java as it is a major security threat.

Last but by no means least, split off your “regular” account from your admin account, so that if someone does manage to get through your defenses, there will be a limit as to what they can do with your machine.

On a side note, installing more memory won’t make your Windows XP computer more secure, but it can make it a whole lot more responsive and hence fun to use.  Windows XP supports up to 3GB of RAM and right now it’s really affordable, so it could be a great investment to make.

Check that your antivirus offers all the protection you need for Windows XP

Although everyone uses the term “antivirus”, what you actually need is an all-round security program and a very robust one at that.  To begin with, a firewall is essential. The one included with (later versions of) Windows XP has long since ceased to be reliable (due to lack of updates).  Even if you intend to use your computer offline only, you will still want to be protected just in case you find you need to go online (or go online by accident).

Look for a cloud-based antivirus program.  This will not only ensure that your virus (and malware) definitions stay updated without you needing to install anything on your local PC (which will probably have very limited resources) but will also ensure that they are updated as soon as the new definitions become available.

Make sure that your antivirus program also offers protection against broader forms of malware such as adware and spyware.  Adware is an annoyance on any computer, but particularly so on older (for which read slower) computers which just do not have the resources to handle it.  Spyware is very dangerous regardless of the age of your computer and Windows XP on its own is particularly vulnerable to it for the simple reason that all its vulnerabilities are now widely known.  This means that unless you add robust protection, you are basically making yourself a huge target.

You will also need an antivirus program with a sandbox.  This is basically a quarantine area where viruses can be safely treated without the risk of the main PC becoming infected.  Basically it’s used to counteract the fact the modern viruses can be very tricky to remove and may spring some nasty surprises before they finally accept defeat.  Sandboxes are hugely useful for any operating system, but particularly so for Windows XP because it would be so massively painful to have to restore everything from discs if a virus caused serious damage.

Check that your antivirus is backed by a reputable brand

Comodo has been protecting computers since before Windows XP was released and we still support legacy operating systems like Windows XP.  Head to this page right now to get the protection you absolutely need!