Old Windows Versions and Existential Threats

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We’re seeing more notices from the last of our providers who ‘supported’ Windows XP and Server 2003 that the clock has struck midnight for those aging systems.  This is of course not a surprise – we’ve heard and even echoed these warnings for years – but it’s another reminder that XP & 2003 are still problems for SMBs.

What concerns us most is the tremendous risk these systems represent at small & medium businesses – risks that some owners may not be aware of, or know of and want to avoid, but don’t know where to turn or are afraid they cannot afford to deal with them.

An ‘existential threat’ is something that if it occurred, would likely mean the end for your business – a situation so dire, there would be no recovering from it.  While we try to avoid hyperbole wherever possible, sometimes we need to use dire terms to adequately convey the sentiment.  We refer to the continued use of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 using that exact phrase.  Put simply, every day a company remains on Windows XP or Server 2003 is another day they are at a heightened risk of a failure occurring which could mean the unplanned demise of their business.

Assuming the worst happens and those systems are rendered permanently inoperable, it’s important to know that you’re going to be forced to start over from scratch.  You can’t get another computer running an OS that old, so you’re going to be forced into upgrade no matter what.  The problem with upgrades is that you may have applications that must be upgraded too, because old versions of applications won’t run on new systems, or vice-versa.  Starting to get complicated, isn’t it.

But what about your backups?  Sadly, even if you do have good backups, if your hardware has failed, where do you restore them?  It can sometimes take weeks for new server hardware to arrive, and if your servers are too old to have a hardware warranty, you really have no other option. If your PCs running Windows XP fail, it’s obviously easier to replace the hardware, but do you know whether there are any files or programs on it that weren’t backed up?  When was the last time you tried doing a restore of your backups, anyway?

You may have to spend days, weeks, or even months rebuilding your Windows Server infrastructure, upgrading applications, and doing all of the other time-consuming upgrades you’ve been putting off, just to get your company back up and running.  Keep in mind, you’ll be paying premium prices for the equipment and services needed to get you up and running again, because nothing is cheap in an emergency.

At a company with 10 employees, it could cost over $400 per hour while you’re down.  That’s $16,000 a week in lost productivity – more than enough to buy new everything today.  During that time while your employees are far less productive, will you be able to conduct any business as usual?  Will you be able to send out invoices or place orders, even send or receive email?  You may very well lose data – is that OK?  Is any of it worth the risk?

These concerns extend well beyond technology though.  While you’re sorting through what to do next, you still have a business to run and employees to retain.  Can you afford to pay them while your technology isn’t working, for days, weeks, or months?  If the outage runs longer than a few days and you need to lay them off, what will they do?  What will you do?  If you can’t retain them, what other new risks or problems will you have to deal with?

As unlikely as it sounds, sometimes a single old server that finally kicks the bucket could well mean the end of your company, if you let it.

If this sounds like it could be a problem for you, don’t fret.  It’s solvable, and it can be done with a lot less pain and suffering than you might think.  As long as these problems are dealt with before they come to pass, we can fix them in such a way that your business will barely notice a hiccup at all.  It’s what we do for customers every day.

Reach out to us today so we can talk about it with you, via sales@nomerel.com or by phone at 918-770-4099.

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