Although much has been written about the potential risks from viruses and hacking, there has been little mention of the data contained on these systems.
Windows XP Data
The data from a Windows XP machine will still continue working after April 8th. It won’t suddenly stop, but there will not be any future security updates to protect it. You may be stuck with old software that is vulnerable to hacking, trojans and viruses. One of the biggest concerns would be an increase in attacks like CryptoLocker, which hold your data to ransom. These attacks have become widespread in the last year, and if they found an easier way in could be a nightmare for anyone stuck using XP.
Another potential cause for trouble will be the upgrades to a newer system. Hard drives are notorious for failing during big updates. Maybe the extra load pushes them over the edge. After years of light service, a large update that writes gigabytes of data could kill off a worn set of heads without much warning. That’s without accidentally erasing the hard drive, or formatting it during the installation. Whatever the cause, we often see drives that have failed mid-update, or shortly after.
Fortunately Windows XP was an extremely popular operating system. We’ve been working with it for so long that we’ve probably seen almost every possible problem. Nothing about our process will change, even years after support has ended. Even now we still recover the occasional Windows 98 or 2000 drive.
If you are worried about Microsoft ending support for Windows XP you should definitely seek some advice. Don’t panic though, as you don’t want to make a rushed decision that wipes out the data. Make a backup or two of the files, and then decide a way forward. There is no direct upgrade path for Windows XP, so it may involve new hardware.