Q. I use Windows XP on my computer. I’ve read that this spring Microsoft will no longer be supporting this system. My question is how does this affect my computer? Can I still use Windows XP or do I have to buy a new computer? In short, would you please let me know the ramifications of using a system that is no longer being supported by Microsoft.
— Catherine Smallwood, Tacoma
A. You can still use your Windows XP computer. The biggest worry for XP users after support ends April 8, however, will be security. Microsoft will no longer be issuing updates to XP, which often include important security patches. Your operating system will be more vulnerable to hackers and malware
Microsoft also will be no longer providing downloads of Microsoft Security Essentials as of April 8. If you already have MSE installed, you’ll continue to receive malware signature updates for a limited (but unspecified) time.
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The other concern I’d have about continuing with XP is that software and hardware vendors aren’t going to be ensuring that their products are backward compatible to XP.
Between you and me — and everyone else who reads this column — XP has been an underperformer and relatively vulnerable even while it has been supported. I’d urge you to take the opportunity to move to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Yes, I know that will almost certainly involve a hardware upgrade, but a lot has happened in both hardware and software since Windows XP was introduced in 2001. And yes, the trade-off between progress and obsolescence is a tough one. Apart from the cost to consumers, I’m concerned about the rapid rise in electronic trash.
Q. I keep getting this pop-up message that says, “Script Error: An error has occurred in the script on this page. Do you want to continue running scripts on this page?” I have Windows 7. Some of the O might be 0. How do I get rid of this pop-up?
A. When you access a website or perform certain acts on a site, such as clicking on a link, a script may be launched. The message is reporting that the script failed to execute for some reason. Most often, that is because the script itself is improperly written.
If you only encounter that error message on one website, the problem is almost certainly with scripting on that site. If that’s the case, notify the webmaster of that site.
If you get error message on multiple sites, then you’ll want to investigate your computer. First, you’ll want to check whether your browser, anti-virus program or firewall is blocking active scripting, ActiveX controls or Java scripts. It may also be that the scripting engine — Java, ActiveX or another — on your computer is corrupt or out of date. The same applies to graphics adapter drivers and DirectX components.
Most browsers also include script debugger extensions that you can use to locate the specific problems scripts are encountering, though these tools require some programming knowledge.
Q. How may I keep my Comcast modem and Linksys router alive for at least 24 hours during power outages without the use of a generator?
— Bill Collison
A. What you need is UPS — as in an uninterruptible power supply that detects power outages and immediately kicks in to provide juice to connected devices.
Most UPS devices also provide surge protection. Usually, however, low-cost UPS devices only provide power for 10-20 minutes, long enough for you to shut down the equipment safely or to turn on a generator.
UPS devices cost anywhere from around $150 to thousands of dollars, depending on how much equipment you want to protect and how long you want to be able to supply them power. The least expensive UPS I found with a 24-hour capacity wasn’t even designed for protecting computers and cost $675.
Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or by mail at Q & A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/