Windows XP has been without support since April this year. While its market share is declining (~24% in August), many users can’t afford to upgrade their computer and are stuck with a vulnerable operating system. If you are not yet ready to migrate to Linux, here are two more ways to keep Windows XP safe, especially after a reinstallation.
Update Windows XP With Unofficial Service Pack 4
The unofficial SP4 (USP4), which we introduced recently, has been developed since September 2013. USP4 is a cumulative update rollup for Windows XP x86, containing all post-SP3 updates distributed via Windows Update. It can be applied to a running system (SP1 and up) or it can be added to an installation medium.
Currently in Beta 3, a first release candidate is expected shortly. Future versions of USP4 are expected to contain further security enhancements, including registry updates to fix potential vulnerabilities.
While we caution inexperienced readers planning to download and install unofficial service packs, we feel that this particular product may be safer than not updating Windows XP at all. Please download from the original source only!
Restore Windows XP With RollBack XP
RollBack XP can create full copies of your system and undo changes whenever you want. It’s like creating a Windows System Restore Point, only better. Snapshots can be taken within seconds while the system is running. Restores are instant, only requiring you to reboot once. You can even restore from an unbootable Windows XP. Best of all, this tool is free for Windows XP users.
Set Your Baseline
After installation, RollBack XP establishes a baseline snapshot. Access the Baseline Manager under Tools & Settings or by clicking CTRL + L to update your baseline after installing service packs or other important updates.
Take Snapshots & Lock Important Ones
To take a new snapshot, open the respective menu item, click New, enter a name and description, decide whether or not you want to lock this snapshot, and click Next. The procedure only takes a few seconds. Click Finish when completed.
The free version allows you to store up to 10 snapshots simultaneously. Selected snapshots can be locked, so they won’t get deleted once you exhaust your allowance or allocated disk space.
Explore Snapshots & Recover Files
RollBack XP provides an easy way to look into snapshots and recover files. Navigate to the Instant Recovery menu item, select Explore Snapshot, pick a snapshot, and click Explore. Your snapshot will be mounted as a virtual drive. Select Open Virtual Drive(s) and look for a new drive under Devices with Removable Storage; this is your system snapshot.
When you right-click a file on the virtual drive, you will see the menu option to Restore from snapshot. Unfortunately, this option didn’t seem to function. Instead, just copy and paste the file or folder.
To recover specific files, select the respective option under Instant Recovery. Here you can search by file name, file type, or file location. Searching for a file name did not return any results in our trial, but finding folders or file types worked just fine.
Roll Back To An Earlier Snapshot
When you decide to roll back your system to an earlier snapshot, you can exclude files from being rolled back. Alternatively, you can create a snapshot prior to rolling back and explore saved data using the file recovery wizard. The wizard will launch automatically after a successful rollback or you can access the Recover Files option via the Instant Recovery menu. Of course you can also back up your data to an external drive, something you should do either way.
Note that when you reset to your baseline, you will lose everything, including snapshots. Rolling back to the baseline, however, will preserve snapshots and enable you to recover files.
Schedule Snapshots & Rollback Events
You can set the tool’s Task Scheduler to create or restore snapshots at a desired interval or time point. This feature is ingenious because rolling back to a snapshot on a schedule (for example on every restart) effectively deep freezes your system. In other words, should you ever break something or pick up malware, a simple reboot will take care of it.
What If Windows No Longer Boots?
RollBack XP is more than a simple Windows tool. It launches before Windows boots and thus can be accessed even when Windows fails to start up. Click the Home button on your keyboard to launch RollBack XP’s sub-console, which will allow you to restore any previously made snapshot or recover data.
The tools above can help you secure and restore your system, but they won’t protect you from being hacked and having sensible data stolen! If you are forced to stick to Windows XP, however, make an effort to use software that offers updates for Windows XP, including anti malware and antivirus tools, keep that software updated, and generally bulletproof your machine.
Keeping Windows XP secure is a Sisyphean undertaking; you can only lose. We recommend that you upgrade your computer as soon as possible. Meanwhile, what do you do to keep Windows XP running smoothly?