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

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

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.

The Laptop Isn’t Going Anywhere…

It weighed 24 pounds. It featured a full-sized keyboard and a massive 5” screen. Retail price? $1,795. While it COULD be carried with the attached handle, and could fit* on your lap, the first “laptop” – The Osbourne 1, was only just a portable computer. It was however the first in the series of systems that we now call – The Laptop.

 

The need for being able to take your skill sets and ability to share information with you has been around since mankind could first scribe on a rock. Laptops continue to impact the social, hobby and work environments no matter what industry, place or living room you travel to. They continue to deliver full-powered, real-life software solutions to thousands of people per hour. They traditionally give you a larger screen than other options currently available, and allow you the instant ability to have a “pop-up office” anywhere you can put it down and open it. It doesn’t even have to BE your lap.

“But what about the Tablet?”

The age of “The Tablet” has more than arrived and – in a generation where much of today’s entertainment, software and data access is “streamed” from “The Cloud” – they are clearly an excellent tool to help provide you with access to data, instantly, anywhere. Will they “kill” the laptop? Will you never need a “regular computer” again because you have a tablet?

Far from it.

While the abilities, accessories and connectivity available today make tablets an excellent enhancement to both home and work productivity, they are not going to topple the world of The Laptop anytime soon. The reasons for this include:

  • A Keyboard: It’s true that voice to text and voice recognition potential has taken great strides, but we are still far from being able to accurately order a cup of “Earl Grey: Hot.” and then scribe a complete formal letter or proposal to one of your most important/vital clients. In most cases, typing is still life.
  • Not Having to Hold On to It: The world of “stands”, mounting armature, and an appropriately-placed backpack allow you to stack a tablet so that you can “watch” the content it’s showing – no one wants to sit and hope a tablet for long periods of time. The ability to place a laptop on a table, desk or your lap, flipping it open and GO – is a tall order to overcome for the tablet.
  • Screen Size: While the size of tablet screens is growing exponentially (iPad Pro, anyone?), one of the most impactful factors when it comes to championing a laptop is it’s screen. When you take our first two factors (keyboard inclusion, instant pop-up ability) and toss on a larger, typically more defined level. Laptops have even included “touchscreen” ability to help solidify their power.

What other factors do YOU think foster along the livelihood of the laptop computer? Tell us in the comments section below and click below to order YOUR business-grade, off-lease laptop from EPC today!

REMEMBER: You can also stop into our 5500sqft Retail Showroom where we can help you get what you need from our always-growing inventory of product!

 

What Is A COA?

WHAT IS A COA?

A COA, or “Certificate of Authenticity” is the sticker located on a computer system that has a 25-digit license key for the Windows Operating System, such as Windows XP or Vista. The COA verifies the validity of the operating system confirming that it is genuine. With the COA attached to the product, a legal copy of the operating system can be acquired from the original equipment manufacturer if the original restore media is lost (ie. Dell, HP, IBM, etc).

WHY DOES EPC LIST COA INFORMATION?

A lot of our wholesale buyers need this information. Many of our customers request that the COA information be placed in our ads so they can determine what machines to purchase according to the restore media they may have already or will be acquiring.

DOES THIS MEAN THAT NO OS IS INSTALLED?

Not Necessarily. Only about 50% of our computers being sold do not come with an OS installed. Please read the description thoroughly to determine what is and isn’t included with a particular item. If the computer advertised includes an operating system, there will be a NEW, Microsoft Authorized COA included with the sale (please see picture). The Buyer of a loaded system would then enter the 25 character alpha-numeric Product Key when setting up the computer for first use.

 

 

Interesting New Numbers on Data Breaches – The Numbers Will Stack Up Against YOUR Company

From Eric Levy: ITAD Sales, EPC, Inc.

EPC, Inc, now in it’s 30th year of business, continues to be a centerpiece of information in regard to Data Security. We have been offering companies of all sizes options that ensure compliance with specific industry standards to help protect companies reputation and information. A recent article from DataBreaches.Net shows just how important it is to be compliant.

“Nearly 1 in 4 data breach letter recipients became a victim of identity fraud, with breaches involving Social Security numbers to be the most damaging.”

This is a staggering number and cannot be overlooked. That means that if your company had an “average sized” Data Breach from a mishandled asset or drive of 554 leaked names*, you would have 139 customers or clients that now have had their entire identity taken from them. This is a process that can take from 3-7 years to reclaim not to mention the untold number of dollars that it will cost YOUR COMPANY to make this happen.

The next time you have retired assets that your boss told you to “get rid of” don’t just think of your potential feel good moment of running into that boss’ office and telling him you got rid of all of those “old” computers and were able to do it for no money. Think about that boss’ reaction when you have to tell him the guy that did it for free just stole you client’s identities and you now have to deal with the absolute costs associated with a breach – along with the unknown costs of lost business. EPC offers true, peace of mind and for very little time on your part. We offer fluid solutions to fit any company in any industry.

Contact EPC and learn more about our Industry-leading Data Security operations. We would love to help you review your protocols to make sure you are compliant within your industry.

*The data to describe an average size breach is from 2012. We expect the average size of a breach to continue to grow exponentially for the foreseeable future.

Please feel free to contact EPC and learn more about our Industry leading Data Security operations. We would love to help you review your protocols to make sure you are compliant within your industry.

Hands-on with Windows 7 Mobile

Tested.com was recently at PAX and got their hands on several Windows 7 Mobile handsets. Since PAX is a gaming convention they focus on the gaming features of the new operating system. However, they do spend a fair amount of time going over how the operating system looks and feels, how the mobile search and browsing work, conversations, calendaring and more. I remain cautiously optimistic that Microsoft can regain momentum in the mobile phone market, but think that the competition is a good thing for consumers. Plus if history is any guide, Microsoft will make their Windows 7 Mobile OS enterprise friendly, so perhaps there will be a worthy competitor to RIM and Blackberry. Watch the hands-on video after the break. Read more

The Value of Facebook…

There can be no denying that Facebook, like so many of the other New/Social Media tools available, is a force to be bargained with. With more than 500mil current users and the number climbing quickly daily, the networking power of Facebook has become an avenue of information, marketing and potential profit for any business.

EPC, Inc. would like to remind everyone about their Facebook presence online and invites YOU to “Like” EPC in an effort to grow the awareness and viability of our Facebook tether to the Internet.

Simply click here to visit and “Like” our presence on Facebook now!

It’s one of the best ways to find out about our current events, our charity efforts, our recycling initiatives and sales throughout the year. You won’t be sorry you did!

Do YOU have a Facebook account? Thought about creating a profile for yourself or your company? Tell us in the comments section below how YOU are using Facebook to change the way you communicate, network and do business. We’d love to hear about it!

Help us understand “the Value of Facebook” now.

A Sale is a Sale, Right? Wrong!

For those of you that haven’t taken the time to attend any of EPC’s recent sales, the time has come. This weekend, is EPC’s 2010 Tax Free Holiday Sale providing you with the opportunity to get some of the best computer equipment you can imagine, at a significantly discounted rate – and pay NO SALES TAX. Read on below for more details and be sure to tell your friends and family with students going back to school/college about this great sale!

“Mark Your Calendars! Saturday, August 7th, 2010 is the date for the EPC NO SALES TAX Computer Sale, and you’re invited! In addition to saving 15% on all used computer equipment, YOU PAY NO SALES TAX! Get there early from 8am-2pm and take advantage of great deals! Also check out the new “CLEAR” 4G Wireless Internet access – the fastest mobile internet connection ever to be offered! If you sign up during our sale this weekend, you get to take an additional 5% off your used equipment purchase! It all happens THIS WEEKEND!”

Click here to link to view the event flyer…

Click here to view the Additional 5% CLEAR 4G Wireless Internet Coupon…