Where Do Old Software Programs Go to Die? “End of Life”

“This is the end, my only friend, the end…”  J.M. – I’m sure Jim wasn’t talking about old software programs 🙂

Old Computer Software Programs

What does it mean when old software programs, or an operating system reaches the “End of Life”. There are times when an application or operating system software is so annoying and buggy that you welcome its demise, but a decently written program that has adequate service packs, will be useful and familiar enough to give you enough satisfaction, that you want to keep it going for as long as possible.  Just like the old car that you nurse along despite the repairs it needs, because it feels comfortable and familiar.

“End of Life” usually comes years after old software programs have been discontinued because the installed base can’t upgrade right away, and the natural inclination of humans to resist change.  In the case of software upgrades, that resistance is well advised (more on that in a future post). Yes, there are new software packages, operating systems and hardware devices that bring bright new innovations that we both need and request.  The need for better security has prompted improvements in software platforms on the backend, that are more integrated with the hardware and therefore more secure.  And its also true that innovations in security on the web have made some online business platforms more secure and cost effective for many small businesses.

Does “End of Life” mean that it just stops working and will never grace your screen again with its shining blue countenance? Thankfully no.  “End of Life” doesn’t usually mean the actual end for most applications and operating systems.  Since its been discontinued and no longer sold, It means its no longer profitable for the manufacturer and or distributor to provide support or updates for it.  So its not “The End” in the sense you have to stop using it.  But you will eventually stop getting help from those that created it.  Very often “End of Life” is used as a marketing tool by hardware and software manufacturers and distributors, to influence owners of prior versions to upgrade and buy newer, flashier, but untested and often more expensive versions.

That’s nothing new. Auto companies and appliance manufacturers have been doing that forever.  I remember my 1974 Chevy Impala (TM)  that ran faithfully until I stupidly drove it to a junkyard to get a newer car “better” car, that had all sorts of problems that my older car didn’t. My Impala rode better, was safer, less complicated, cheaper to maintain, and so on.  Most important, it was reliable transportation that I could count on.

Old Computer Software Program Graveyard

The same can be said about computer systems and software programs. Unless its a lemon and badly designed out of the gate, it will almost run forever, just like an old Chevy.

There are many examples of this in the software world, Windows 7 (TM) being the most prominent.  Windows 7 is the result of about 20 years of innovation and IMHO is the best operating system Microsoft (TM) has developed.  Its stable predictable, user friendly, backward and forward compatible, and flexible, etc. It still hasn’t reached its “End of Life” and its still being sold as an OEM software to computer professionals, and DIY power users.  There was a faux “End of Life” when Windows 10 (TM) came out, which was largely marketing based, but it did mean the end of consumer sales for Windows 7.  Like Windows XP (TM), before it, Windows 7 was well though-out and developed, with a reliable troubleshooting and update system so when its actual “End of Life” comes, it won’t really be the end.  And that’s good news for those of use who don’t want to give up our old Chevy Impala.

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Computer and Mobile Device Security – Trade offs

What kind, and how much, local network, online, computer and mobile device security is needed for a small office or home business?

The main thing to consider is the fact that all small business computer systems are vulnerable to some degree, and security of any kind can be breached. This presents an often discouraging dilemma for small business owners and managers. Very often, putting in packaged security programs means unintentionally locking out essential services. You often sacrifice productivity and convenience for more security. Throwing money at expensive software and installing it with the expectations of ‘Wall-E being AI’ without the experience to configure it, and find the right balance, can be frustrating at best. Hiring an IT company that specializes in security for small business computer systems can be very expensive and may not be cost effective in the end.

I recommend a happy medium between winging it alone, or letting a high cost computer and mobile device security company milk your bank account.

computer and mobile device security

First, security risks in a small office can be managed effectively with basic security measures (see below) that don’t require a lot of technical experience, just basic research and honest effort. A few examples of this would be, not saving private information in browsers, installing a reputable anti-malware program to actively scan your production workstations, among many others. And also, common sense precautions against “human error” malware or ransomware file downloads, or email “phishing” scams can filter out the most obvious of them. Using a cautiously wary approach akin to “I wasn’t born yesterday” can go a long way.

Second, get some help from a small business computer and mobile device security company that has its priorities in the right order. A. Solve the security problem. B. Implement the solution to your satisfaction, and the best of their ability, C. Test and verify. E. Proactively solve, rather than worry and fret about computer security or any IT challenge. When all major projects are accomplished, then, D. Worry about marketing and up-selling the new Client (it should almost be an afterthought).

 

Key computer and mobile device security guidelines for a small office network:

 

Full, frequent, backups of all important production files and databases.

Offsite or Off-network duplicate backup of production files and databases.

Never download attachments or click on a link from any unsolicited email

Never download any files from untrusted websites without verifiable CA certificate.

Make sure Windows, or Operating System, Firewall is turned on and update regularly.

Anti-Malware software that updates and actively scans for installations and intrusions.

Set Internet Browsers to erase cookies and temporary files (don’t save passwords, etc.)

Never install add-ons, toolbars, or unnecessary “convenience” plugins in Internet Browser

Limit Production Folder sharing to production users only.

Unique passwords on Server and Production comps (8-char, alpha, numeric, symbol)

Don’t use iframes (on main traffic web pages) there are site security issues associated with them

Use a remote VPN computer service that is secure, efficient, and private.

 

There are many more, some that are easy to implement, and others that require some technical expertise, but on the whole more research and perseverance than anything else.

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How to Hire a Small Business Computer Consultant

Finding a dependable Computer Repair and Service person can be a daunting challenge, particularly if your a busy small business person. You just don’t have the time or background to go searching for the Small Business Computer Consultant that’s a good fit for you. Online referral services, like Angie’s List can give you a head start in finding a mobile, onsite, IT Consultant you can trust and depend on, but that’s not everything. There are still a number of pieces that have to fall into place before you hear “click”. You have to match skills to your IT needs, Software expertise, Scheduling to Availability, Budget to Contractor rates, etc. On top of all this you still have to go through the process of finding out if you’re compatible in terms of personal style and business attitude, which can differ widely. Experience is a big plus, but some old dogs resist learning new tricks. So where to start, and what to look for?

Small Business Computer Consultant

Here’s a punch list of essential qualities and project management skills a Small Business Computer Consultant should (IMHO) cultivate, to inspire loyalty and trust in both new and existing Clients:

His/Her primary concern should be quality assurance: comprehensive, accurate, efficient, and cost effective (below market rates).

Moves out of their own way, and yours: Values your time, careful not to perform unnecessary diagnostics that don’t yield practical results, is not always right, etc.

Knows what he/she’s getting into, and can say when he/she doesn’t know. Engages in careful planning and research, to find out what he doesn’t know, prior to an installation or upgrade.

Does his homework beforehand: Makes sure that software and hardware meets and exceeds the minimum technical performance requirements published by the software manufacturer. Verifies that 3rd party, proprietary, business software, written for a certain industry has adequate support commensurate with the cost.

Trusts but verifies: Goes around the sales rep, and contacts the manufacturer and/or vendor’s technical support department to further verify the requirements, technical specifications, and known issues, and that patches, updates, or service packs are available to address known issues.

Is Consistently Diligent in his efforts: has the tenacity to apply the above principles, before, during, and after any Client hardware or software installation. In so doing, your Small Business Computer Consultant will formulate affordable, practical, and effective solutions for your small business.

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Are Small Office Servers Necessary?

First, a little history: The term server was first coined back in 1953 by D. G. Kendall in his formulation of queuing theory It was first applied in computing in 1969 with reference to ARPANET, the first packet switching IP network developed by the department of defense for communication between military installations. The technical use of the term means a use of a type of process that turns an Operating System such as Microsoft TM Windows into a “server” that makes files and other services available to “users”. The concept is also known as the client–server model in which clients request services and content from a central server. Small office servers became popular in the mid 1990s when Novell TM Server software was the dominant software for file share clients.

With the advent of Windows NT in the late 1990s Windows Server software became more prominent. Many of the services that the MS Windows Server Platform provided, such as SQL server were useful for proprietary industry specific applications written for the Windows Server. Having the actual “Server” software is less important these days, because OS software platforms from Windows NT up through Windows 7 and 10 Professional workstation software can be configured to share files and act as a server on a peer-to-peer network with fewer than 25 users. There are many business applications written for the Windows Professional workstation with built-in services that make them self contained and not reliant on the services, as they were on the Windows Server. The versatility of the Windows 7 OS and the cloud ready capabilities of Windows 10 Professional, along with cloud file storage and online services have made the traditional file server unnecessary in many small business offices today, but the concept of a designated “server” providing file and sharing access over a Local Area Network is still alive and well. If your wondering if your office needs a server, and need a mobile, onsite computer repair consultant to do it, SBC can help you decide.

 

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Computer Updates: To Update or not?

That is the question that perplexes many small business people these days. When your computer updates itself or keeps telling you “updates are available”, you might wonder what’s going on. With all the security and privacy problems so prevalent in on today’s web, its advisable to update on a regular basis, but it’s best to apply them selectively. New operating systems like Windows 10 and OS X, you no longer have a choice in the matter. Updates are applied behind the scenes, and that often causes real issues for OS settings, continuity, and sometimes basic functions. At SBC, its recommended that updates be applied regularly, but with discretion.

Updates were more user-Friendly

Older OS platforms like Windows 7, which is still a stable option for many business offices, give you a few different choices for applying updates. This means fewer surprises and more productivity. So what do we do to manage updates in newer operating system like Windows 10? You can control the scheduling of updates in PC Settings so that they don’t happen during your busy workday. Also, you can ask your IT person to regulate them on the back end, using something called Group Policy Editor. In this case either, the business owner, manager or IT person will have to make sure they apply updates on a regular basis (i.e. a long weekend or holiday ). Computer updates are a two-edged sword in today’s security conscious computing environment, but applying them wisely, selectively, and regularly is the challenge we all continue to face. It can make a difference for the efficiency and productivity in many small businesses.

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Dependable Computer Repair

Small Business Consulting is excited to provide quality, dependable computer repair to small business owners and home-based entrepreneurs in Austin. SBC has been helping small offices and individual consultants with mobile, onsite, computer services, since 2006. SBC partners with small offices and business owners in improving their IT, computer networks, cloud-based computing, and organic and social web presence. The SBC business strategy is to produce results, and work closely with Business Clients rather than play the numbers game. Rates are always lower than current market rates for the full service solutions provided by SBC. Hands-on, creative, cost effective, time-tested, and practical solutions are preferred, over the the latest “x-phone”. If it works, meets all the objectives, and can save the Client money in the short and long-term, then let’s go with it.

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