Here are two options.
1) Upgrade now to a newer computer & OS version. In this new environment experiment with Virtual Machines. A VM program will allow you to create a 'folder' that contains an entire OS within your main OS. This means that if you get a Win-7 machine, you can install a VM program and install your XP into that. When VM programs are shut down, you are asked if you want to save the current state of the VM OS. If you have modified any files or installed any programs and you are sure that your XP is still virus free, you can save the current state and when you restart it, you will have every change. On the other hand, if there's anything about the changes you have made that you don't want to keep, don't choose to save the current state. When you restart XP the previous state that you saved will be loaded. You can make images of the VM at any point. These will be much the same as creating Restore points in a regular OS. You can reload a previous image if you discover that your currently running VM has become infected or corrupted. In a VM, you can even install your older versions as well. Still have an old DOS 3.1 lying around? Make and hook up an external floppy or get one installed in your new Win-7 and welcome back the good old days!
2) Since you may not be able to or want to update your present computer hardware due to age or any other number of reasons and don't want to buy a new computer and a new Windows OS, consider a Linux OS such as Ubuntu, Mint, Zorin or any number of other varieties or builds of user friendly Linux. I'd recommend Linux-Mint 14. As a matter of fact, this is the OS that I have chosen to run instead of XP or any other Windows version. In this Linux OS base, which you can use to replace your XP as the main OS, you can again install one of several Virtual Machine programs and install your XP into this and run it just as I described above. Along the way, you will have a Linux build to learn and experiment with.
Virtual Machine states are extremely easy to maintain, repair and even remove and re-install, and in keeping your XP beyond its support range you should really consider this route and as I mentioned, if you still have any of your older installation floppies for the older DOS versions you can bring back many memories and programs you probably thought you'd never run again such as some good old DOS games! You can 'Sandbox' (totally isolate from the internet) your Microsoft versions, all of them, within the Linux OS and use only your Linux OS to access online sources (browsing, downloading and emailing), thereby keeping them isolated from any possible virus infections. Any files and installation programs you download with the Linux for your MS OSs can be scanned by the Linux anti-virus program to ensure they are clean before you move them to your MS OSs for use or installation. You can also scan all disks and other media this way before you open them with your Win OS. Sandboxing at its best to keep your XP and whatever totally safe from infections.
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