Is it Time to Upgrade Your Windows 7 Computer? (Yes.)

It has been a decade since Windows 7 was released to the public, just two years after Microsoft launched the ill-fated Windows Vista, an operating system that struggled to live up to the tech leader’s predecessors. Vista was slow, insecure, and often incompatible with consumers’ existing PCs, requiring the purchase of new systems—an expense few were willing to pay. Many users chose to stick with Windows XP—released in 2001—rather than deal with the unpredictable hassle of what could, in the public’s opinion, barely be considered an upgrade. After this flop, Microsoft scrambled to restore their reputation and develop a new OS, one which would finally live up to the hype the brand name evoked.

Prior to its launch on October 22nd, 2009, Windows 7 broke the record for highest-grossing preorders on Amazon, a record previously held by the last Harry Potter novel. Upon its release, Windows 7 received high praise from critics for its new and updated features, many of which were improvements upon Vista’s poorly executed ideas. Its speed, enhanced taskbar, and sleek, touchscreen-friendly interface gave users

It’s no wonder people are unwilling to part with the OS. Its successor, Windows 8, received so much criticism from the public upon its 2012 release that Microsoft developed Windows 8.1 within the year. This updated version addressed complaints and improved mechanics many desktop users found clunky, but hardcore Windows 7 users remained unconvinced. Even after the release of Windows 10 in 2015, it took nearly three years for its worldwide market share to surpass that of 7’s, and Windows 7 still holds nearly twenty-eight percent of the worldwide market share today.

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Table 1. Desktop Windows Version Market Share Worldwide from Mar 2018 to Oct 2019 via StatCounter

But if you’re one of those stubborn Windows 7 fans, you’ll want to reconsider your stance, and soon: Microsoft is officially ending support for the OS on January 14th, 2020.

What does this mean?

Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 in 2015. This meant that no new features would be developed for the operating system. However, the January 2020 date refers to extended support; after January 14th, Windows 7 will no longer receive security updates, and customers who continue to use it will do so at their own risk.

“My computer works just fine,” you say. “I don’t like change. If I don’t have to upgrade, why should I?”

It’s true, you don’t have to upgrade. Come January, you will still technically be able to download, install, and use Windows 7 on your PC (although EPC cannot install Windows 7 on any machine, and newer machines may not be able to run the OS). However, there are many reasons you shouldn’t.

Your PC is already insecure.

Even as Microsoft continues to release security updates, major flaws already threaten your Windows 7 computer. In March, Google announced that two zero-day vulnerabilities affecting Google Chrome and Windows could potentially be exploited together, and that only Windows 7 seemed to be affected. Issues such as these will continue to arise with third-party programs, and developers will no longer prioritize fixing problems exclusive to an old OS.

Your programs will stop working.

Security flaws aren’t the only problem that will go unresolved as time goes on. Third-party programs will stop taking Windows 7 compatibility into account when developing updates and new versions. This means that while a program you use may continue to work, any newer versions or updates run the risk of failing.

Businesses can continue receiving support for their Windows 7 machines, but it will come at a cost.

If your company depends on a program that only runs on Windows 7, you can extend your support for up to three years—for a price. Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates will be available to businesses and other organizations through “qualified Cloud Solution Provider partners.” Prices are not publicly advertised, but companies will pay an increasing amount each year per device, leading to extremely high prices for some companies; the most cost-effective option for companies is an upgrade.

And if you’re a home user looking to extend your support, well…you can’t. Upgrading is the only option.

“So what do I do now?”

If you’ve finally been convinced to upgrade, you have a few options:

Upgrade your current machine to Windows 10

This is almost certainly the best option for Windows 7 users. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most up-to-date and secure OS and continues to receive regular security updates. Windows 10 is designed to make the upgrade easier by automatically transferring your files (though we still recommend backing up your files beforehand). Windows 10’s interface is friendly to both touchscreen and non-touchscreen users, meaning both types will find their PC habits relatively unchanged. For information on upgrading to Windows 10, read Microsoft’s official FAQ here.

Purchase a new PC.

Some older PCs may run slowly or not work at all with Windows 10. If you are currently running Windows 7 on older hardware, upgrading to Windows 10 may require a few additional steps, including the purchase of a new PC. Luckily, consumers have options, and a new computer doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. You could buy new from Microsoft or another major retailer such as Dell or HP; or you could buy a refurbished PC at reduced cost. EPC offers used, refurbished devices from all major brands, and every purchased PC comes with Windows 10 Pro.

Switch to Mac or Linux

If you can’t stand the thought of switching to Windows 10, it may be time to try something new. Apple’s macOS and Linux are the two most popular alternatives to Windows, with pros and cons for both. It’s important to research each OS’s features, cost, and the transition process from Windows before making a decision. Keep in mind that Apple hardware is typically much more expensive when buying new, but EPC offers refurbished Mac products in-store or online at a discount.

With so many options to choose from, the only bad choice is doing nothing. You may be reluctant to spend the money or give up the familiar for an upgrade, but the risk to your home or business of keeping Windows 7 is too great to ignore.

Okay, I’ve made the switch. My computer is secure now, right?

Maybe not. While upgrading your operating system is an important step, you also need to keep your software up to date. Using older versions of programs such as Microsoft Office can also pose a security risk. Microsoft Office 365 is the most up-to-date Office product available from Microsoft. Check to make sure each of your programs is running its most current version.

Your transition to a new system doesn’t have to be painful. For more information on how EPC can help you make the switch, visit our store at 3941 Harry S Truman Blvd, St. Charles, Missouri 63301 or call us at (636)443-1999.

References

Desktop Windows Version Market Share Worldwide. (2019, November 11). Retrieved from StatsCounter: https://gs.statcounter.com/windows-version-market-share/desktop/worldwide

Foley, M. J. (2019, October 1). Microsoft to make Windows 7 Extended Security Updates available to all business users. Retrieved from ZDNet: https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-to-make-windows-7-extended-security-updates-available-to-all-business-users/

Hoffman, C. (2019, October 9). How Windows 7’s “Extended Security Updates” Will Work. Retrieved from How-To Geek: https://www.howtogeek.com/443573/how-windows-7s-extended-security-updates-will-work/

Johnson, B. (2009, October 21). Windows 7 set to break retail records. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/oct/21/windows-7-launch

Lecigne, C. (2019, March 7). Disclosing vulnerabilities to protect users across platforms. Retrieved from Google Security Blog: https://security.googleblog.com/2019/03/disclosing-vulnerabilities-to-protect.html

McIntyre, D. A. (2009, May 14). The 10 Biggest Tech Failures of the Last Decade. Retrieved from Time: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1898610_1898625_1898627,00.html

Warren, T. (2013, June 26). Windows 8.1: A First Look at What Microsoft is Changing. Retrieved from The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2013/6/26/4465888/windows-8-1-preview-video

From Allentown to Bethlehem: Our New Pennsylvania Facility!

EPC, Inc has maintained its presence in the northeastern United States since they opened their Allentown, Pennsylvania facility in 2013. Now, due to rapid company expansion, our PA location is moving to the neighboring town of Bethlehem to accommodate the increase in employees and business. The new, 85,000 square-foot facility, located at 2980 Ave B, Bethlehem, PA 18017, is now the largest ITAD processing facility outside of the St. Louis, MO area. With this move, we will continue to provide our customers in the region with the quality service they’ve come to expect.

“This facility will greatly improve our regional capacity for both facility-based ITAD services along with onsite activities,” said Dan Fuller, EPC president and founder. “We will continue to expand our operations regionally and globally.”

EPC expects to employ an additional twenty-five to thirty workers at the new facility within the year, bringing the total number of employees to over seventy. Most ITAD operations will be performed at the new facility including receiving, asset tracking, data destruction, equipment testing and processing, recyclables collection and triage, order fulfillment imaging and shipping.  The facility will also be the regional home base for our mobile shredding trucks and data destruction team. 

EPC, Inc. operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of CSI Leasing, headquartered in St. Louis, MO. Across the USA, we are committed to providing quality ITAD service and protecting the environment by reducing the production of e-waste. This new facility will help us fulfill the promises of our company’s mission statement and improve our service in the Northeast.

What Makes EPC a Great Choice for ITAD?

In July 2019, Arrow Electronics announced that it would be closing the doors of its global ITAD program. This decision came after preliminary financial reports revealed significant loss of profits for the company. After August 5th, Arrow will no longer accept assets.  

This has understandably come as a shock to customers who have depended upon Arrow for ITAD services. The task of selecting a new ITAD company may seem daunting; EPC is just one of many companies to choose from. So what makes EPC, Inc a great choice for ITAD? 

  • Secure Data Erasure: EPC’s SecureTrack program sanitizes hard drives according to the guidelines laid out in NIST 800-88, making your data unrecoverable. 
  • Physical Destruction: For those looking for physical destruction, EPC offers shredding for many digital media storage devices, including HDDs AND SSDs (read more and watch our informational video on the importance of proper SSD destruction here). 
  • Remarketing: We audit every acquired piece of equipment for functionality and value. EPC purchases functional equipment at fair market cost for refurbishment and resale. 
  • Recycling: We de-manufacture any end-of-life assets according to our strict no-landfill policy and all current state, federal, and international environmental laws and regulations. 
  • Global Impact: With locations all over the world, EPC is fully equipped to handle your ITAD needs, wherever they may be. Our professionally trained staff can transport your assets to our facility or bring our services to you.  
  • Reporting and Documentation: All scheduling, discovery, SecureTrack data, and audit reporting is available to the client through a password-protected portal on EPC’s website, meaning you won’t lose sight of where your assets go. 

Our goal for our clients is to maximize returns and minimize risks associated with ITAD and data disposal. EPC is committed to providing you with quality services with the flexibility to meet your needs. If you are a former Arrow Electronics customer, or anyone looking for an ITAD company, contact us today! 

A map of our eight US locations

The Risks of SSDs (and How to Keep Your Data Safe)

When exploring your options for data storage, you may find yourself tempted by the exciting new technology of flash memory, and it’s no wonder. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are the new craze, and as the technology develops and prices drop, more and more individuals and companies alike are turning their backs on traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) and making the switch. But what makes SSDs so special? 

Unlike your typical HDD, an SSD contains no moving parts—no spinning platters, no read-and-write heads—and does not use magnetic storage. While an HDD is susceptible to external factors such as loud noises, pressure changes, movement, and magnets, SSDs are more resistant, making them an ideal choice for protecting valuable data from damage or loss. 

However, the advantages to SSDs can become challenges when it comes to data disposal. While methods such as wiping, degaussing, and shredding are effective on HDDs, an SSD requires special attention. If you or your business chooses SSDs for data storage, it is necessary to find an ITAD company that can guarantee their methods meet legal standards for data destruction. Not every company can, and that is where EPC comes in. 

EPC offers multiple erasure and destruction methods specifically designed with SSD destruction in mind. If you’re looking to reuse or sell your drives, our erasure software ensures all data is wiped from the drive and is truly unrecoverable. If you’re looking to destroy your drives, our SSD shredder is built to shred them to the legal minimum particle size standard, a feat not possible with typical industrial HDD shredders. 

Scared to ship your drives off-site? EPC can come to you. All data destruction services can be done at your own facility, meaning none of your data is left vulnerable during shipping or transfer. No matter what your needs are, you can rest easy knowing EPC will keep your data secure. 

Watch our SSD shredder in action below! 

How to Remove a Google Account (FRP) from an Android

We’ve already discussed how to remove an account and its data from an iPhone. But what about an Android? If you plan on selling, trading in, donating, or recycling your Android phone, you’ll want to make sure your Google account is no longer synced to the device. Luckily, this is very simple.

1. Locate the Settings App on your device, whether through the Home Screen, App Drawer, or Notification Menu.

2. In the Settings App, navigate to the “Accounts” (LG) or “Cloud and accounts” (Samsung) tab. The name and location of this tab will be slightly different depending on the manufacturer of your phone or tablet. Typically, on an LG phone this tab will be under the General section, while on most Samsung devices you will scroll down from the main section.

3. Click on the account that you wish to remove.

4. Tap the menu icon in the top right corner.

5. Select “Remove account”.

6. You will then be asked if you wish to remove the selected account, after confirming this is the correct account, tap “Remove”.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your Google account and all its data will be wiped from the phone.

Why We Charge For Recycling

If you have a broken TV or monitor taking up space in your garage, you’re not alone. Many of us, for one reason or another, find ourselves burdened with these devices when they meet their end. You can’t sell them, and you can’t put them in the trash—you’ve read about the e-waste problem and don’t want to contribute to it. So, what do you do?

Hopefully, you decide to take it to an electronics recycling facility, where they can extract the raw materials and repurpose them. However, when you come to a place like EPC, you might be shocked to find that dropping off your TV or monitor comes with a price tag. Why? Most drop-off items free, so why this cost money? Doesn’t the recycling company make money from recycling? Shouldn’t they pay you?

Unfortunately, recycling electronic equipment isn’t that simple. While someone might be able to make a quick buck collecting old soda cans, processing e-scrap requires far more work, with little profit for the company.

When your CRT or LCD screen is processed, it must be manually de-manufactured to remove universal waste—toxic substances such as lead and mercury which must be processed separately. One 17” CRT monitor can contain around six pounds of lead. While these substances aren’t a danger to you or your family when the device is in use, improper disposal can lead to harmful chemicals leeching into the environment. Manual labor, running and maintaining recycling machinery, and outsourcing the de-manufacturing of certain devices such as LCDs and printers are costs that add up.

You may still be wondering why it’s worth it to pay for proper disposal. After all, aren’t there other recycling companies that still take these items for free?

It’s true, some electronics recycling facilities claim to offer “no-cost” services and will take your devices free of charge. However, these companies don’t always handle end-of-life assets properly. Recently, dozens of defendants were named in a lawsuit against recycling companies that contributed to a massive CRT glass stockpile in Columbus, OH. Cleanup costs have been estimated at $18.2 million dollars, and forty-one electronics recyclers may be held financially responsible.

Our recycling prices ensure that each item is processed correctly without putting ourselves, our customers, or the environment at risk. Don’t worry, most of the items we accept are still free to drop off. Here is a complete list of what we accept free of charge:

  • Servers
  • Desktop PCs
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Speaker Components and Accessories
  • Video and Photo Equipment
  • DVRs
  • Cable and Satellite Receivers
  • Digital and Film Cameras
  • Audio Equipment
  • Personal Printers
  • Scanners
  • Fax Machines
  • Gaming Consoles
  • Cell Phones and Batteries
  • Phones and Accessories
  • Small Electronic Appliances
  • All Cables and Power Cords
  • Small Household Electric Devices
  • Rechargeable Batteries

For devices with a drop-off fee, we have updated our prices as a result of the rising costs of recycling hazardous materials:

  • Screens up to 32″ and microwaves are $20 per item
  • Screens above 32″ are $40 per item

EPC has a limit of up to four items per drop-off and reserves the right to refuse any items at any time.

We hope this clears up questions you may have about our recycling practices, and that you continue to make the effort to recycle responsibly. If you have any questions, or you need to recycle in bulk, please call (636)443-1999 for more information.

EPC – Recycling Practices You Can Trust

In December, we published a blog post titled “Combating the Recycling Crisis.” In this post, we outlined the obstacles the US recycling industry currently faces, and what people can do to help lower the amount of waste headed to landfills. EPC would like to expand upon the last of these tips listed in that post:

Look for companies with trustworthy recycling processes. EPC has a strict no-landfill policy for its e-waste. When you take your electronics and appliances to EPC, you can be confident that your e-waste will be responsibly recycled and processed for reuse. 

If you have questions, you’re not alone. You may be wondering, “How can EPC make a promise like that?” or, “Can I really trust that none of my assets will end up in a landfill?” It’s important to ask these questions of any business promising environmentally sound practices. That’s why EPC wants to make things clear.

First, we should acknowledge that “e-waste” is a bit of a misnomer. The word “e-waste” implies that what we collect will become waste, which is not the case. The correct terminology is “e-scrap,” because what we collect is demanufactured and broken down into commodities such as steel, aluminum, and plastic. The materials we recover during the recycling process are suited to make housings for many types of electronics and are therefore in high demand. Spotters ensure no contamination enters the stream, and the result is a pure product we sell to various manufacturers to create new devices. Our no-landfill policy remains strict and firm.

Our word may not be enough for you—and it shouldn’t be. That’s why we have the certifications to prove it. EPC is proud to be certified to e-Stewards and ISO 14001 standards. These certifications deal with e-scrap processing and environmental protection. EPC undergoes frequent auditing to ensure compliance with these standards and continually raise the bar for our recycling practices.

Although the recycling industry continues to struggle, we are committed to maintaining and improving our efforts to keep toxic e-waste from contaminating the environment. For more information about e-Stewards, ISO 14001, or EPC’s recycling practices, visit the links below.

https://www.epcusa.com/certifications/

http://e-stewards.org/

https://www.iso.org/iso-14001-environmental-management.html

Tokyo Turns E-Waste Into Gold

As the 2020 Summer Olympics draw near, Tokyo is preparing to host the games for the first time since 1964. The Japanese capital has a long road ahead as construction continues on the New National Stadium, and they prepare to welcome millions of visitors to the city. One of the many responsibilities of the Olympic host country is to provide winning athletes with their gold, silver and bronze medals. While the metals used to manufacture these in the past have come from a variety of sources, Japan has turned to an unconventional source: e-waste. 

Nearly ninety percent of Japanese municipalities have participated in collection programs that began in April of 2017. During this two-year campaign, those living in Japan have dropped off used cell phones and other small electronic devices at certain sites. These have been collected and dismantled for precious metals, which are extracted and refined to manufacture the five thousand medals required for the Olympic games. Nearly fifty thousand tons of small electronics have been collected across the country, including approximately 5.07 million used mobile phones. In February, the program met its goals of thirty kilograms of gold, 4100 kilograms of silver, and 2700 kilograms of copper (gold medals are made from silver and only plated in gold). The program will end on March 31st, 2019.

This is the first time the awards will be made entirely from recycled materials; but one must wonder, why hasn’t this been done before? Japan’s initiative sheds light on the potential “gold mine” that exists within the millions of tons of e-waste disposed of each year worldwide. Phones, laptops, gaming consoles, and other electronics containing precious metals in their circuitry sit in landfills like a vein waiting to be struck, yet few companies take advantage of this resource. While one phone may contain only trace amounts of gold, Japan has proven that those traces add up.

The Japanese public’s enthusiasm for the initiative is not only due to the environmental benefits. Many people have expressed feelings of pride over donating their phones. The metals that once sat in their pockets will hang from the necks of the best athletes in the world. This brings a sense of public inclusion previous Olympics have lacked. In some way, every medal awarded is a win for Japan, regardless of their rank in an event.

Tokyo’s Olympics are also promoting sustainability in other ways. Recently, Japan’s Olympic team announced that it will wear uniforms made from recycled athletic textiles. Many of Japan’s top athletes have donated their old clothes for this endeavor. Both campaigns will cut costs for an expensive Olympics with a price tag once estimated at $30 billion. 

EPC appreciates Japan’s efforts to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly Olympic games. As a company dedicated to responsible e-waste reuse and recycling, we hope this sets a precedent and encourages other nations to find more innovative ways to utilize their old devices. Perhaps Beijing could create a similar campaign for the 2022 Winter Olympics, or Paris will step up in 2024. Maybe we, the USA, can follow Japan’s example when Los Angeles hosts in 2028 for the first time in forty-four years. But whether or not our current devices are future Olympic medals, we can start looking at e-waste differently much sooner than that.

For more information about Tokyo’s e-waste recycling program, visit the link below:

https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/medals/project/

EPC Opens New Atlanta Facility

In January of this year, EPC officially opened their newest facility in Atlanta, GA, offering all EPC equipment disposition services to the region. At 65,000 square feet, the Atlanta facility is the largest EPC equipment processing facility outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

EPC’s presence in the Southeast began in 2008 when it opened its Columbia, South Carolina facility, which has been servicing businesses throughout the region ever since. With our new presence in Atlanta, we hope to expand that service and meet the region’s rising demand for equipment disposition. “More companies are seeing the value of professional IT asset disposition services like ours,” said Dan Fuller, president and founder of EPC. “The reality is that most businesses don’t want to pay to have antiquated equipment shipped very far. Therefore, it makes good business sense to continue to expand our geographic footprint in the United States and globally.”

Our St. Louis-based company was founded in 1984 and operates across the United States in six other locations: St. Charles, MO; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Houston, TX; Allentown, PA; and Wright City, MO. The company serves as an international leader in recycling and proper environmental handling of used IT equipment. EPC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CSI Leasing, Inc., the largest independent IT leasing company in the country. EPC’s services include the sale of new and used computer systems and parts, repairs and upgrades, networking design, and IT asset management. EPC is committed to a zero-landfill policy and zero export of unprocessed equipment overseas and has signed the Basel Action Network Pledge of Responsible E-Waste Stewardship as a certified e-Steward. For more information and a complete summary of the services provided, contact EPC at (636)443-1999 or visit epcusa.com.

1100 West Lake Parkway, Suite 175, Atlanta, GA 30336

Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better When It Comes to Computer Monitors

by Tony Lovasco

It’s not uncommon for shoppers looking to upgrade their monitor to seek out the biggest display they can afford.  This temptation is unsurprising – when one shops for a television, the physical size of the display is typically the most important decision – why would it be any different for a computer monitor?  To answer that question, we must examine how a typical digital display renders content.

If you were to look closely at a modern flat-panel LCD screen, you’d discover that the images shown are made up of an enormous number of tiny colored rectangles.  These boxes—called pixels, or sub-pixels depending on how narrow you focus—are arranged in much the same way as the holes in a screen door.  Each pixel renders a very small part of the image, and when viewed at a distance your brain blends them together to create the illusion of a continuous picture.  The number and arrangement of these pixels is denoted as a measurement called “resolution”.

Resolution is expressed in the form of a ratio – the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical ones in the grid.  In the world of televisions, there are only a handful of common resolutions (for example, 1920×1080 is the resolution for TVs advertised as being 1080p). But in the world of PC monitors and laptop displays, there are dozens of different common resolutions, even when comparing two displays of exact same physical size.

A higher resolution display of the same size will naturally appear to be sharper and more refined than a lower resolution one, by virtue of the fact that your eye is able to more easily blend together a higher number of smaller pixels.  But equally as important is how much content will fit on screen. If the content occupies a fixed number of pixels, a higher resolution monitor will be able to display more on screen at any given time than the same physical size display with a lower resolution.

It’s important to remember that a larger physical display does not always have a higher resolution than a smaller display.  While resolution often increases with the physical size of the panel, some larger monitors are sold with lower resolutions in order to meet a budget price point.  The result is that you might buy an “upgraded” monitor, only to discover that you can’t fit any more on the screen than with the smaller one.

Due to the variety of different screen resolutions and the labor involved, many vendors don’t advertise detailed specifications of the monitors they sell, and instead only provide basic details such as the size and model number.  In those cases it’s always best to check out the monitor manufacturer’s website, where you should be able to find complete resolution information to make comparison shopping easier.