How to know when your device has finally reached end-of-life status

How to know when your device has finally reached end-of-life status
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Unfortunately, no matter how much you love your current smartphone, laptop, or wearable device, they won’t last forever. Parts wear out, software slows down , and technology evolves making older devices more difficult and eventually obsolete.

In the industry, manufacturers often state that devices are at end-of-life (or EOL), when they reach a certain age. However, there can be confusion about what exactly that means. This doesn’t mean that your gadgets will stop working or cease to work. However, you will encounter some issues that you need to be aware.

What EOL means for your gadgets

Tech companies don’t always adhere to the same terminology. This is especially true for end-of-life status. Depending on the manufacturer, the definitions of the concept can vary. Sometimes they break down the term into smaller stages. Apple labels products as “vintage”, five years after they cease selling them, and “obsolete,” two years later.

While there may be differences in the way companies use these terms and even between products under the same brand name, there are some common themes that apply almost everywhere. You won’t usually get any software updates once your device reaches EOL status. Manufacturers will usually discontinue any type of repair or support service that users had access to for that model.

[Related: When to repair your computer and when to replace it]

Returning to the Apple example, an old product can’t be taken into an Apple Store to be repaired. Although they may be able repair a vintage product, it will depend on what device you have, making it difficult to generalize. There are exceptions sometimes, but you can always ask.

When it comes to their Pixel smartphones, Google doesn’t mention EOL, but it gives a comprehensive rundown of how long you can expect software and security updates for. With newer devices, including the Google Pixel 7 Pro, you get at least three years of Android updates and five years of security patches starting from the handsets’ launch date. This guarantee support window is something that you should look for when purchasing new tech.

Unfortunately not all hardware manufacturers are as transparent about the life expectancy of their products. End-of-life data can be difficult to find and sometimes it won’t even be available. Some companies —like Microsoft, for example–constantly put out information to help you decide what to buy next. But if you don’t know where to look for it, start at endoflife.date, which is a useful database of hardware and software products you can refer to.

Your device hit EOL. What now?

You won’t necessarily get a flashing message on the device after it has reached its end of life period. You almost certainly won’t. As we mentioned above, you may be able to find this information out in advance from official or unofficial sources, but your best bet is to keep an eye on the daily tech news, so you can stay up to date with the latest announcements.

Once you discover that your device has reached its EOL stage you don’t need to do anything except think about upgrading. Although your gadget will continue to work, it will stop responding to software updates. You’ll be unable to update certain apps if the device is behind in software updates. Although this can be frustrating at first as you don’t have access new features or redesigns, it can eventually stop you from using your apps and make your user experience less enjoyable.

But this is the least of your worries. Security is the most important issue. You won’t get regular patches for your hardware and the software will become more out-of-date. Fully updated software is by no means invulnerable, but hackers often aim their attacks at older code that hasn’t been properly patched, putting you at a higher risk of various threats.

[Related: These simple upgrades could save you from having to buy a new computer]

Repairs can be another problem. While your current gadget may continue to work, you will find that the problems are increasing in severity over time. You’ll have to rely on third-party companies for help. Your options are limited.

The speed at which you should think about upgrading your devices depends on what hardware you have. Your first-generation Fitbit tracker, or your iPod, are unlikely to be targeted by bad actors. But your phone or laptop is a different story. If this is the type of device that is reaching end-of life, then you may need to upgrade sooner than you originally thought.

David Nield

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