How To Protect Your Privacy on Windows 10

How To Protect Your Privacy on Windows 10 1

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Windows 10 is the most used operating system used on computers. Made by Microsoft, Windows 10 collect information that you may don’t want they’re shared with Microsoft and third-parties.

Whether you think Microsoft’s operating system crosses the privacy line or just want to make sure you protect as much of your personal life as possible, we’re here to help.

Let’s get started!

The first time you encounter privacy settings is when you set up Windows 10.

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Turn off Ad Tracking

Exactly like Android and iOS, Windows 10 has a unique ID for advertising purposes called “advertising ID” (also called “Ad-ID”).

The advertising ID is used also for other purposes, like data collection.

The advertising ID is a unique, user-resettable ID for advertising, provided by Google. It gives users better controls and provides developers with a simple, standard system to continue to monetize their apps.

It enables users to reset their identifier or opt out of personalized ads (formerly known as interest-based ads) within Google Play apps.

Google

Companies like Google has “advertising ID policy guidance” that regulates and limits the usage and tracking of the advertising ID, including penalties and violations.

But can you really trust them?

In my opinion, it’s time to say “enough”.

Why Should I deactivate the Advertising ID

Simple, the advertising ID is added to all the advertising assets to recognize you.

It is also linked to all the information collected by third-parties like Google, Facebook, Oracle, etc.

By deactivating it, the information collected will be “anonymous” (more or less) but is more than nothing.

How to deactivate the Advertising ID on Windows 10

To deactivate the advertising ID on Windows 10 follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Windows 10 Settings app
  2. Go to Privacy > General. There you’ll see a list of choices under the title “Change privacy options”; the first controls the advertising ID.
  3. Move the slider from On to Off.

That’s it.

If you are getting troubles, here is an explaining YouTube video:

Turn off Location Tracking

Like Google and Apple location tracking, Windows 10 tracks and collect all the location you go to.

The problem is that if you completely deactivate the location services, some functions and features will not work properly or at all.

For example, weather based on your location, maps, auto night mode, and so on.

But you still can deactivate the use of the location for other purposes, like apps that don’t need location services, you can just deactivate them via the Windows settings app.

To ensure privacy, remember to clear and deactivate location tracking on your Microsoft account.

How to deactivate Location Tracking

To deactivate location services follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Windows 10 Settings app
  2. Go to Privacy > Location
  3. Underneath “Allow access to location on this device,” click Change and, on the screen that appears, move the slider from On to Off.

Like that you’ve deactivated location services.

Remember that via the IP address the location can still be track and collected by who obtains it.

So to ensure the anonymity all you need is a VPN service that hides your real IP address and location, with no-logs policy.

And if you are using a free VPN, then you are giving all your data to third-parties.

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Do You Really need Cortana?

Do you use Cortana?

Cortana may is a good voice assistant but privacy-killer.

Some information collected by the Microsoft’s digital assistant includes information about your contacts, calendar, location, internet history and favorites, speech, inking and typing, and more.

I personally believe that Cortana is a great tool that will only get better with time, we have to understand that many users will find Microsoft collecting certain pieces information as an invasion of privacy.

Mauro Huculak from Windows Central

Microsoft may record your voice even if you’re using Cortana at this moment.

And, all the question you’ve made to Cortana are recorded and sent to Microsoft for whatever purpose.

And Cortana uses CPU, RAM, and other resources to answer you, not a big deal.

Limit Cortana data collection and usage

If you’re worried it will invade your privacy by doing that, there are a number of things you can do to limit the information Cortana gathers about you.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Start by opening Cortana settings: place your cursor in the Windows search box and click the Cortana settings icon (it looks like a gear) that appears in the left panel
  2. On the screen that appears, select “Permissions & History”
  3. Click “Manage the information Cortana can access from this device”
  4. Then turn off “Location” so that Cortana won’t track and store your location
  5. Also turn off “Contacts, email, calendar & communication history, and Browsing history”.

Cortana no longer will track your location, browsing history, and more.

To stop Cortana from gathering other types of information, head to the Cortana’s Notebook section on the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard.

Click the content you want Cortana to stop tracking, then follow the instructions for deleting it.

To delete all the data Cortana has gathered about you, click “Clear Cortana data” on the right side of the screen.

Ditch your Microsoft account for a Local user/account

When you use your Microsoft account to log into Windows 10, you’re able to sync your settings with all Windows devices.

So, for example, when you make changes to your settings on a desktop PC, those changes will also be made on your laptop the next time you log in.

But maybe you don’t want Microsoft to store that information about you.

And maybe you want to cut your ties as much as possible to anything Microsoft stores about you.

If that’s the case, your best bet is to stop using your Microsoft account and instead use a local account.

How to switch to a Local account

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Accounts and select “Sign in with a local account instead”
  3. A wizard launches.
  4. Follow its instructions to create and use a local account.

Change your App Permissions

Like you should do on Android and iOS, tweaking app permission can really improve privacy.

App permissions are the best way to limit the access of data of an app.

By default, Microsoft can access the camera, microphone, and more, but by tweaking and changing the app’s permission, those apps will have no longer access.

For example, the weather app doesn’t need to access the camera and microphone.

How to change App Permissions

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Windows Settings app
  2. Below “Apps & features” you’ll see a list of your installed apps
  3. Click the app whose permissions you want to control
  4. Then click Advanced options and set the app’s permissions by toggling them either on or off

Control and delete diagnostic data

As you use Windows 10, data is gathered about your hardware and what you do when you use Windows.

Microsoft says that it collects this data as a way to continually improve Windows and to offer you customized advice on how to best use Windows.

That makes plenty of people uncomfortable.

If you’re one of them, you can to a certain extent control what kind of diagnostic data is gathered about you.

To do it follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Windows Settings app
  2. Click “Privacy”
  3. Then go to the “Diagnostics & Feedback” section

In the Diagnostic data section, you can choose between two levels of diagnostic data to be gathered.

Note that there’s no way to stop Microsoft from gathering diagnostic data entirely.

Here are your two choices:

  • Basic: This sends information to Microsoft “about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it is performing properly.” If you’re worried about your privacy, this is the setting to choose from.
  • Full: This sends the whole nine yards to Microsoft: “all Basic diagnostic data, along with the info about the websites you browse and how you use apps and features, plus additional info about device health, device usage, and enhanced error reporting.” If you’re worried about your privacy, don’t make this choice.

How to control and delete diagnostic data

Next, scroll down to the “Tailored experiences” section and move the slider to Off.

This won’t affect the data Microsoft gathers, but it will turn off targeted ads and tips that are based on that information.

So while it won’t enhance your privacy, you’ll at least cut down on the annoyance factor.

Now scroll a bit further down and in the “Delete diagnostic data” section, click Delete.

That will delete all the diagnostic data Microsoft has gathered about you.

However, after you delete it, Microsoft will start gathering the data again.

How to view diagnostic data

There is a tool called the Diagnostic Data Viewer, which you can download from the Microsoft Store.

Exactly like on iOS, with this tool you can see the diagnostic data in plain text.

But you might not understand the data you see.

Developers use this data to better understand how Windows 10 is used, to improve the user experience, and so on.

But nobody knows if these data are anonymous or not.

Improve inking & typing recognition

Windows 10 by default sends to Microsoft the words you input using the keyboard and inking.

Sound exactly like a keylogger, that’s because you have to worry about it.

To deactivate this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Windows Settings app
  2. Click “Privacy”
  3. Then go to the “Diagnostics & Feedback” section

Finally, on this screen, consider scrolling up to the “Improve inking & typing recognition” section and moving the slider to Off.

That will stop Windows 10 from sending to Microsoft the words you input using the keyboard and inking.

Use Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard properly

Like Google, Microsoft has built an excellent, little-known web tool called the Privacy Dashboard that lets you track and delete a lot of information Microsoft gathers about you.

You can also view and delete your browsing history, search history, location activity, voice activity, ad tracking, media activity, LinkedIn activity, and a lot more.

Simply head to the information you want to view and clear, then click the “View and Clear” button.

You’ll see all your activity in that category, and be able to delete individual instances (such as a single web search, for example), or all of it at once.

Conclusion

I hope this article helped you understand what data does Microsoft collect via Windows 10, and sure how to protect your privacy.

If you like this article share it on your preferred social network and who care about privacy.

If you have any question comment below this article, I’m glad to help you.

Check out the other Windows articles to learn more about Windows.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers!

Source: ComputerWorld, PCMag

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Jonathan Terreo
Writing for me is not only a necessity, but a passion. As a child I remember always reading and writing, always with a curiosity that seemed to have no limit. I also remember when my first computer fell into my hands. I still retain the same fascination for technology, the same curiosity.
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