The last show that I had played was about four years ago. Back when I was regularly playing on stage, I used to change my strings once a month. Ever since I stopped playing on stage, I did not change my strings. The four-year old strings had become rusty and had lost almost all of the higher frequency harmonics that gives the nickel-steel strings their metallic overtones. My guitar, and especially the fretboard, was covered with gunk.
After a thorough cleanup, I put on a fresh set of strings. I had almost forgotten how new strings smelled like.
I always use a reverse hook at the tip of the wire and let the bend in the hook get caught under the wire itself while the wire exits the tuner post, right as it starts to wind around it. I let the turns loop downward. This locks the wire up. I have never had issues with wires slipping off the posts.
I have used Ernie Ball Slinky in the past. They are great. I like the tone of Slinkys better than the D’Addario EXLs I am using. While the tone of both these strings degrade in a similar fashion, Slinkys tend to rust faster. I am sure that if I had the Slinkys on, my strings would have snapped during a bend after an year of usage. That being said, I think I should have changed the strings at least three years ago.