Are there any repercussions to sticking with unsupported software? Quite a few, as it turns out. But there are things that people can do when they’re using software that’s no longer receiving updates.

Developers only support software for a specific period of time. There’s a lot of work that goes into keeping software up to date and after a while its just time to move on. It could be because a newer version was released or because the software is no longer popular. Either way, much like hardware, the software has a shelf life, and developers won’t keep the updates coming indefinitely.

This doesn’t mean that users can’t keep using that piece of software, however. In fact, most people have used software past its ‘expiry date’ at least once in their lifetime. Because who wants to keep buying the latest version if they don’t have to?

It’s a logical decision, but it also opens a person up to some frustration and a few security risks. Read on to find out why using old software is a bad idea.

What Happens When Software is No Longer Supported?

One fine example has to be the Windows operating system. There have been many iterations over the years and, with time, each has fallen by the wayside. The latest in this long line is Windows 7, which is now on an “extended support” plan until 2020. After that, Microsoft is switching its efforts solely to Windows 10 and beyond.

Despite all that, it’s evident that plenty of Windows 7 users aren’t currently planning on making the switch to Windows 10. It’s not a terrible decision by any means, but it does expose them to a great deal of risk. Along with a bit of frustration down the line.

So what happens when a person uses an outdated Windows operating system? Three things:

1. Their PC or laptop will be at risk of infection from malware and viruses. It’s because software updates regularly contain important security patches. These patches fix security flaws within the system and also protect against newly discovered threats like new types of malware. Without these updates, an operating system would become vulnerable to multiple types of exploitation.

2. Since Windows is an operating system, other software was created to work on and with that system. As soon as Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7, for instance, other software developers will too. Which means that new programs might not run as smoothly, or at all, on Windows 7 after 2020.

3. Finally, hardware will be a problem too after a while. Manufacturers won’t produce drivers for outdated operating systems, but hardware needs specific drivers to work. So, naturally, this will be a big problem after a couple of years.

Unsupported Software is a Big Security Risk

Users who decide to stick with older software must come to grips with the fact that they are at risk. It might not even be a case of ‘if’ but rather ‘when.’ Because, no matter which way the wind blows, cybercriminals are always looking for weaknesses and, unfortunately, this is a big one.

That means there’s the chance of getting hacked or infected every time a person visits a website or downloads a file. Of course, this can still happen with security updates too, but it’s much more likely to happen without them.

Is There a Way to Stay Safe?

There aren’t many options open to someone who decides to use outdated software. Here’s what they can do:

Get a VPN

Hackers can’t exploit a computer if they can’t find it and can’t access the connection. This is where VPN software comes in handy. Using outdated software is less of a risk when the computer is protected from most external attacks. Just keep in mind that a VPN cannot protect against any malware that is manually downloaded by the user.

A good VPN provider to consider is NordVPN because they offer exceptional encryption at reasonable prices. Make sure to look out for NordVPN coupons and discounts as well – there are usually plenty available throughout the year.

Just Upgrade

In some cases, the most reasonable solution is to abandon the software or update to the latest version if there is one. Operating systems are one thing, but sometimes it’s beneficial to upgrade to a newer version of the software. For instance, the latest version of Adobe Photoshop offers tantalizing new features that the older versions don’t have.

In other cases, it’s just a good idea to upgrade purely for security reasons. Especially if you’re using software to access personal or private information.

The Bottom Line

It’s tempting to stick with older software, especially the ones that are user-friendly and convenient to use. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing as this opens people up to severe security risks.

Software developers and cybersecurity experts do not recommend that anyone keep using older software. But if they do decide to do it, they should at least take some steps to protect themselves.