If you’re among the 30 per cent of Canadians using Windows XP, you might want to consider an upgrade.

Official support for the Microsoft operating system that came out in 2001, is set to end on Apr. 8, and those who don’t switch to a different system will be leaving themselves vulnerable to malicious attacks.

Once the tech giant pulls the plug, users will no longer be able to download security updates, and won’t be able to contact Microsoft if they have technical support questions.

So what steps should users take to prevent cybercriminals from hacking into their computers?

Tech expert Mark Saltzman spoke to CTV’s Canada AM on Monday morning to offer a few tips:

  • First of all, if you’re unsure what computer system you’re using, you can go to www.amirunningxp.com, which scans your computer and identifies the system.
  • Once you know you have Windows XP, the first option is to upgrade your existing PC to run a newer version of Windows, with prices starting at $119 for an upgrade.
  • The second option is to buy a new computer. “Alternatively, and I would recommend this, is to sort of bite the bullet if you’ve had this computer for a decade or so, and consider one of the new machines that already has the Windows operating system preinstalled,” said Saltzman.

Microsoft announced in 2007 that it was planning to phase out Windows XP. Earlier this month, in an effort to convince reluctant users to upgrade, the company offered customers a $50 gift card if they purchased a new PC from the Microsoft online store. It’s now offering $100 discounts on Surface Pro tablets or other devices running Windows 8.1 until June 15.