Windows 7 is still one of the world’s most popular operating systems, but its days are numbered. Microsoft ended Mainstream Support for Windows 7 in 2014. Since then, Windows 7 has received important updates to fix bugs and patch security issues, but no upgrades or improvements to its basic functionality. Once the popular operating system reaches its End of Life (EOL) on January 14th, 2020 — the final stage in the Microsoft software lifecycle — all Windows 7 support from Microsoft will cease.
This has very important security ramifications for businesses who are still running Windows 7. Many security research firms, like the Ponemon Institute and Kasperky Labs, have shown that the Internet is becoming an increasingly hostile place for SMBs, where 61% of SMBs have experienced a cyberattack in the last 12 months. In this environment, running an operating system that’s even weeks out of date can present an increased security risk, let alone one that’s completely unsupported. The WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks that damaged hundreds of thousands of computers are great examples of this danger, as both attacks were able to spread quickly because of unsupported operating systems.
Security risks aren’t the only issue you face by continuing to run unsupported Windows 7. Because new software and hardware are both designed to run with the latest version of an operating system, companies that run an unsupported operating system may notice compatibility issues as they try using the latest technologies. These incompatibilities, although not always immediately noticeable, can cause crashes, data loss, and other productivity-harming errors. The larger your network infrastructure, the greater the effect an out-of-date operating system can have on security and productivity, as the time required to identify and fix problems throughout your entire organization increases significantly.
For businesses of every size, it’s time to start the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10, Microsoft’s most current operating system. Some businesses may find this transition difficult, so we’ve assembled a few tips to help make the process as smooth as possible.
Best Practices for Windows 10 Migration
Windows 10 migration can be tricky, as there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach that businesses can apply uniformly to achieve a good result. Some devices may be eligible for an “in-place” migration that preserves user data, while others may require a more complete “wipe-and-load” approach, in which technicians back up user data to an external destination and then install the new operating system onto a blank hard drive. Many organizations will want to employ a mix of strategies to address the needs of each device and complete the upgrade as quickly as possible. Here are some other tips:
- Assemble Your Windows 10 Migration Team
A Windows 10 migration offers the opportunity to update obsolete systems and fix lingering inefficiencies. To make the most of this rare opportunity, assemble a team of stakeholders from across your organization to contribute to the process. This should include a capable project manager who has the skills to drive the migration process, technical staff who can plan the overall migration and understand the unique needs of each system, and leaders from each of your business units who can ensure their department’s interests are represented.
- Plan the Migration
Planning is a very important part of ensuring that your upgrade goes smoothly and successfully. It starts with an honest appraisal of your goals for the migration process. How soon can you reasonably expect to complete the entire migration? Do you have any proprietary applications that may complicate your Windows 10 migration? What will the result of your migration look like? You’ll want to address this kind of concern early on to get a clear picture of what the migration will entail and determine what tools you’ll need to achieve that goal in the desired timeframe.
- Start Small and Expand
You shouldn’t try to upgrade all your PCs at one time. Instead, start with a selection of PCs and use them to test your migration strategy. If you notice any problems during the migration, they’ll be easy to fix in this small group of computers and will do minimal damage to your overall business operations. Once this small group has been successfully upgraded, you can proceed with the rest of your migration based on your experience with this trial run.
- Test Thoroughly and Rigorously
Your employees are using tens, maybe hundreds of different software applications. When migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10, you should know which applications will need to be updated along with the operating system beforehand. Once Windows 10 has been installed and these applications have been updated, they must all be thoroughly tested to ensure they continue to function correctly. Although the application testing process can be lengthy, the use of specialized software can speed the testing process along and ensure reliable results.
Seek Expert Assistance to Ease Your Migration
Many businesses, especially larger ones or those with well-staffed IT departments, may find they don’t need help with their migration from Windows 7. However, for smaller businesses that lack in-house IT talent, or businesses that have IT staff who can’t tackle the unwieldy Windows migration process with confidence, there are many benefits to hiring an external partner to help with your migration from Windows 7 to 10.
A Windows expert can help you plan and execute a migration strategy that proactively addresses the unique characteristics of your network infrastructure and bring the upgrade to a successful conclusion on time and under budget. This is especially true when upgrading mission-critical systems, or in migration scenarios that require specialized knowledge, such as in regulated industries. A poorly executed migration in those scenarios can result in serious network downtime, lost productivity, and lost revenue.
To avoid these problems, consider hiring a technology partner like Complete Network to help you manage your Windows 10 migration. We can ensure the upgrade process causes as little service disruption as possible. With decades of experience helping SMBs manage their technology needs, including operating system migrations, we’ve earned an unbeatable reputation for providing highly-reliable, high-value technology solutions to businesses in the Albany and Charlotte areas.
If you’d like help planning and managing any aspect of your migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10, please contact us with any at [email protected], we’re always happy to help businesses operate with greater confidence and security!