Preserve your XP compatible applications! (make backups)
Here's something I figured out the hard way:
With the any applications you use (including browsers, anti-virus, firewall, etc.) keep in mind that newer versions might not be compatible with XP. Even they're compatible, at the very least you might just hate the new version and be unable to restore the older version if it's no longer available. Note: If you have "auto-updates" enabled, you might inadvertently get "auto-upgraded" as well. The upgrade might not be compatible with XP, and the auto-upgrade may uninstall/delete your old version w/o asking you.
As an example, I'd been using Firefox 3.6 as my browser quite some time and was pretty happy with it. I'm using Winows7, but I still liked my "old" Firefox and never bothered to upgrade to the new Firefox 10. Then one day I booted up Firefox 3.6, and it had suddenly been auto-upgraded to Firefox 10, and FF 3.6 had been automatically deleted from my system! I knew I had enabled auto-updates for FF, but I never realized I'd get upgraded to a completely new version without being asked first. And I certainly never thought my old version would get automatically deleted. I still gave FF10 a try, but was pretty disappointed with it because some of my favorite features were gone. (This was actually a common complaint about FF10).
Luckily, at that time I could still download Firefox 3.6 from Mozilla. But there was a notice saying that it would be discontinued soon and no longer available for download. Happily, I was able to download/restore my "old" Firefox. But just in case, I "sequestered" my Firefox 3.6 to prevent over-writing with FF10. Nothing fancy - all I did was put my FF 3.6 application (and associated files) into it's own folder with a new name. I also left Firefox 10 installed, even though I don't use it, and any updates that might "accidentally" get through and mess with FF3.6 are targeted to the FF10 folder instead. I also backed up FF3.6 onto a hardcopy in case my efforts to sequester FF3.6 somehow fail.
For things like AV software, internet browsers, etc., where you'd obviously want auto-updates for security reasons, I'd STRONGLY recommend you make backup/restore copies of these applications. That way, if your XP-compatible software gets inadvertently auto-upgraded and overwritten by an incompatible version, you can always reinstall the old version.
Still, many of your other applications might eventually lose support as well (including security updates). At that point you might have no other option than to go to Windows 7, or even Windows 8 (omg!).
On the other hand, newer versions of malware/viruses/spyware might lose XP compatibility as well. Ironically, then you'd be more secure than the rest of us using Win7, Win8, Mac, etc.
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