Windows 7: Maintenance Versus Migration

Widows 7 logo with a semi-transparent red circle and line over itThere are various risk and cost factors that should be considered before deciding whether migration or delayed migration is the right choice for your firm.

With the recent phasing out of regular security updates for Windows 7, many firms are faced with a major question: How can we proceed in a cost-efficient manner without sacrificing data security? Although the question might seem daunting, for many firms the answer can be simple. Developing a rough estimate of the costs of staying on Windows 7 versus migrating to Windows 10 can provide a rough draft of the map forward for executive decision-makers.

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The graphic on this page shows a rough cost estimate for migration to Windows 10 versus delaying migration for three years and relying on the paid Microsoft Extended Support Update (ESU) program. In a small or medium-sized firm relying on entry-level IT devices like the one modeled, the long-term costs of extended support — along with device maintenance, less efficient electricity use, and complementary risk management — can add up to a larger annual IT cost than purchasing entirely new hardware.

Cost diagram for Windows 7 maintenance vs. migration to Windows 10

Three-year cost projections based on 100 user-end devices running 12h/day, 350 days/year. Energy cost estimate for Windows 7 devices averaging 110W energy usage from January 2019 to January 2022 at an energy cost of $.2/KWh. Energy cost estimate for Windows 10 devices averaging 85W energy usage from January 2019 to January 2022 at an energy cost of $.2/KWh. Maintenance cost estimates based on (.2 * license/device cost * 3 years). Device cost estimate based on an average initial license/device cost of $800 with an expected device life cycle of 8 years.

Although tangible costs like new hardware, maintenance, and electricity are universal, firms in most industries will need to consider other specific costs. One of the more difficult to account for potential pitfalls of delaying migration is being phased out of software compatibility. As Windows 7’s extended product cycle ends, more and more software developers will design updates with Windows 10 in mind, which can leave late adopters behind. While older versions of software may be acceptable substitutes, they can also add new layers of data security risks due to a lack of ongoing support.

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Whether a firm has decided to delay migration for three years or finish migration to Windows 10 in three months, risk management should play a critical role in the process. In the information age, data is more valuable than ever, and firms that fail to effectively assess and preempt security risks may become liable for significant damages. For medium-sized businesses that don’t have dedicated on-site IT personnel, contracting risk management and data security to a specialist firm can be a secure and cost-effective option. At Reclamere, we offer 24/7 virtual security, custom-tailored to clients’ needs through our CSO360 program, and have experience in cost-efficient, secure device migration.

In our next article on Windows 7 maintenance and migration, we’ll examine the major factors that firms should consider when deciding to maintain Windows 7 through the extended support period, along with some industry-specific examples illustrating cases where delaying migration may be the best option.

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