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How to leave Windows XP behind: 5 alternatives for under $500

Older systems running Windows XP and 7 are vulnerable to WannaCry and other malware. Protect yourself by modernizing with one of these inexpensive upgrades.

Now Playing: Watch this: Ditch your ancient Windows XP PC for one of these alternatives
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Still using a Windows XP computer? At least 7 percent of computer users are, according to the latest browser stats -- and that's 7 percent too many.

Yes, it turns out that the vast majority of people who got snagged by the recent WannaCry/WannaCrypt cyberattack earlier in May were actually Windows 7 users. But with Windows XP support long since ended by Microsoft -- pity patches notwithstanding -- we're here to tell you that it's time to move on. Just ask the Russian postal service, whose XP PCs are still reeling from the malware attack.

When XP was first released in 2001, pricey PCs and Macs were the only game in town. In 2017, you have many more options -- including many that are $500 or less. (That's about £390 or AU$670.)

Move to a new Windows 10 PC

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The Lenovo Ideapad 110S offers enough performance for basics at less than $150.

Josh Miller/CNET

Microsoft's current operating system gets the most attention with frequent updates for security and features. If you're just looking for something to handle basics -- word processing, email, web surfing, streaming media -- there are several low-cost Windows 10 options. Laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad 110S can comfortably handle working on documents and browsing the internet. Of course, the more you spend, the better your experience is likely to be.

If you already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse, you could also consider a "dongle PC" like the Intel Compute Stick. Just plug it into an HDMI input on your display, connect your peripherals and you're good to go. They won't blow your doors off with performance, but for $150, it's fine for email, social media and movies. There are plenty of regular low-cost Windows 10 desktops around, too.

Microsoft also has a new version of its OS called Windows 10 S, which adds the security of only being able to install software available in its app store. In other words, you won't be able to install -- on purpose or by accident -- software that Microsoft hasn't approved for its store. Windows 10 S PCs are expected this summer and will be as cheap as $189 (roughly £146 or AU$255) from partners including Acer, Asus and Samsung. (And if you decide you need the flexibility of the full version of Windows, you can do a one-time upgrade for $49, which is roughly £38 or AU$66.)

Switch to MacOS or Linux

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Apple's Mac Mini might be old, but it's the only MacOS option for under $500.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Or maybe it's just time for you to switch from Windows all together and give something else a try? If you want to give Apple's MacOS a go for less than $500 (£399 in the UK and AU$619 in Australia), your only option is the Mac Mini. It's old, having not been updated since October 2014, but it's still plenty for basics.

You might also consider a Linux OS system like the Endless Mission One. It runs on a custom Linux-based Endless OS with a user-friendly interface that has an almost Android-like look to it. In fact, the built-in web browser is Chromium, the open-source version of Google's Chrome browser. The best part, aside from its stylish looks, is that it costs $250 (Endless isn't selling this model outside of the US right now, but that works out to around £205 or AU$330).

Consider a Chromebook, box or bit

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Acer's Chromebook R13 is a two-in-one laptop for less than $400.

Josh Miller/CNET

Google's web-based Chrome OS is a lightweight, but limited operating system that relies heavily on having an internet connection. If you just need an inexpensive laptop (Chromebooks) or desktop (Chromebox or Chromebit) for using web-based tools, a Chrome system is worth investigating. On the plus side, Google constantly updates the OS for security and because you can't install traditional software, you don't have to worry about accidentally installing a malicious application. Those who need to install software like Microsoft Office or Apple iTunes will want to steer clear, though.

Go for an Apple iPad with keyboard

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Apple's new entry-level iPad offers a secure experience for less.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You can get a lot of work (and play) done on Apple's iPad, including the 9.7-inch entry-level model, which starts at just $329, £339 and AU$469. Since iOS and the App Store are locked down tight, you're less likely to get hit with an attack. (That's not to say a targeted cyberattack for iOS or Android devices couldn't happen, but again, this is about ditching an unsupported operating system.)

Unfortunately, Apple's keyboard cover for the iPad Pro won't work with this iPad. Logitech, however, has a keyboard cover specifically for this new iPad that can give you more of a laptop experience.

The backup plan: Your phone or tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard

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A Bluetooth keyboard like Logitech's K780 Multi-Device model makes using a phone or tablet for work easier.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Use what you got. If you already have a phone or tablet that you use for email and web browsing, you can expand its usefulness by connecting a Bluetooth keyboard to it. Yes, the screen is going to be smaller than a PC. And no, it's not going to run all of your old XP software.

On the other hand, you're probably already using your phone for a lot of emailing, web browsing and social media. And doing so with a full-size keyboard is much faster for banging out responses to all those messages filling your inbox. It also makes working in documents and spreadsheets more comfortable.

You can spend as little as $20 for a small, portable keyboard like this AmazonBasics' model or move to a full-size model like Logitech's Multi-Device K780 for around $80 (£75 or AU$150) that connects to up to three devices at the same time and has a notch at the top to hold your device. Logitech has a smaller, less expensive version, too, with the same switching capability.