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EoL operating systems what are the dangers of using one?

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Technology is constantly evolving, and the systems that businesses rely on have regular updates, allowing them to provide you with the functions and services you need. But, sometimes, an update isn’t enough and software providers release new versions of their operating systems (OS), meaning their old versions become outdated. At some point, every piece of software reaches what’s called end of life, when a company stops supporting and updating it, including any fixes for security. 

Why do companies end up relying on end-of-life Operating Systems?

Relying on an OS which has reached End of Life (EoL) is a big risk. Still, it is common practice for businesses to continue using an operating system that’s no longer supported because of upgrading or changing to a different OS, and there are many reasons why:

Workload-specific requirements

Features, capabilities, or characteristics of an EoL operating system can be dropped as a vendor progresses through updates. 

Sometimes companies depend on these features for their solutions, and the fact that the newer OS does not have these features may mean that solutions break or that expensive fixes are required to maintain that functionality. When this happens, companies can be stuck in a difficult position and feel unable to migrate to a supported OS.

Resources are limited

Updating software is often seen as a lower priority than desired new features or the day-to-day costs of running a business.

In the competition for resources, there may be more important priorities than upgrading a perfectly functional OS, even if it is EoL. Until it becomes an urgent priority, and by that point, maintaining it will have used more resources than upgrading it in the first place. 

Migration challenges

Closely tied to resource limitation is the potential problems around migration. Mainly when deployments are on a largescale, migration becomes complex and challenging. It may seem as if there is no way to upgrade an OS – and simply keeping the existing OS in place is the most sensible option.

What are the risks of using an outdated operating system? 

So, what are the risks of using an outdated OS, and why should businesses use supported versions? 

Incompatibility with other systems 

Technology moves quickly, and new and helpful products are continually being launched to help you with business. Companies that use these new products benefit in many ways, including offering better products, more features, and improved customer service, all while creating a better experience for their employees.

Some elements of a technology solution are coded with a specific functional expectation in mind. An EoL OS lacks the required functionality, so using an EoL OS prevents you from using these. As they no longer support these systems, they don’t allow for integrations, so using them stops your business from moving forward. 

It can be expensive. 

Businesses often delay upgrading their OS to save money, but it can cost you a lot more in the long run. To keep the OS running effectively, you will need to invest in customized solutions and fixes when the vendor stops all support. 

The two points above can also lead to expensive problems that drive up costs beyond the savings from postponing an upgrade. Outdated software can lead toan expensive migration to a newer system, and by not being able to use new software, you’re missing out on systems that can save your business time and money.

Security risks

Finally, the most severe issue with relying on EoL software: the significant security risks implied by using software that is no longer supported. 

End-of-life operating systems will not get security fixes and updates that protect users against known vulnerabilities. Instead, these known security risks are left open to the public, with no patch that can protect users and their customers against the risk when hackers decide to exploit them. As we’ve mentioned before, a single critical bug that is not patched due to a lack of official support can lead to an expensive cybersecurity breach.

So, what should you do? 

Now you know the risks of running an outdated OS, you know why you should be upgrading it. But it can be hard to do, so if you want to talk it through in more detail, get in touch with a member of our team. Our experts are always happy to help you.