What Data is Windows 10 Sharing?
One of the major knocks against Windows 10 is that in its standard configuration is collects a large about of user information. Location, browsing habits, wifi passwords and speech are just some of the things that Microsoft collects. More and more, people are becoming rightly concerned with their digital footprint. They want to know how to change privacy settings in Windows 10. While it is impossible to completely disable data collection, there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that you are sharing the least amount of data possible.
Review and Change your Windows 10 Privacy Settings
To change your Windows 10 Privacy Settings, you can access your privacy settings windows by opening the Start Menu and clicking the Gears icon.
This will open the Settings window. Now click on the Privacy icon. This will take you to the Privacy menu. In the left column you will see all the different privacy-related categories in Windows 10. On the right are the configuration settings for each. Below is an overview of each setting and our recommended configuration:
Change Your Windows 10 Privacy General Settings
- Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app usage – What is the Windows 10 Advertising ID? It’s a unique personal identifier that allows Microsoft to track your activity in the Windows Store and within many apps. This helps to serve you better and more targeted advertisements. Since this setting serves no other purpose than to serve ads, it should be turned Off.
- Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list – This settings allows Windows 10 to share your preferred language list with websites. This can be helpful if you are fluent in more than one language and you visit sites in different languages. Otherwise, it should be turned Off.
- Let Windows track app launches to improve Start and search results – This settings allows Windows 10 to customize your start menu and search results based on your app usage. With this settings enables, Windows tracks every application you run on your OS. For the convenience of a customized start menu, it is an awful lot of data to share, so our recommendation is to turn it Off . You can bypass searching for apps by creating desktop or taskbar shortcuts.
- Show me suggested content in the Settings App – This is billed as a way for Microsoft to help you discover different settings and features in Windows 10 that you may like. Odds are, if you are reading this how-to, you’re not likely to need those suggestions. This settings is vague and without real value so it should be turned Off.
Change Your Speech, Inking and Typing Settings
- Microsoft describes this service as ‘getting to know you’. Considering the amount of data it collects, that is an understatement. This feature monitors everything you say, type and write. When within earshot of the computer, everything you say is heard. When you type, everything you type is tracked, including passwords and account numbers. It will even track your handwriting and speech patterns. Windows 10 features such as Cortana and user dictionaries will not work with this feature disabled. Still, we cannot think of any good reason to share this personal information with anyone, so we turn it Off.
Change Your Diagnostic & Feedback Settings
- Diagnostic Data – This is the area where you can choose how much diagnostic data you want to send to Microsoft. There are two settings: basic and full. Basic only sends data related to the performance of your device and its settings. Full sends all the same data as basic. It also sends your browsing history, application usage, features, and device health, among other things. Microsoft explains that the data is used to improve the Windows 10 operating system and to improve troubleshooting problems. Set this to Basic.
- Improve Inking and Typing Recognition – Here is another setting related to sending your typing and inking data to Microsoft. Set this to Off.
- Tailored Experience – Yet another setting related to offering customized ads and tips. The difference this time is it’s based on your diagnostic data. Set this to Off.
- Diagnostic Data Viewer – This setting allows you to see your diagnostic data. Unless you are very curious, this can likely be turned Off.
- Delete Diagnostic Data – This allows you to delete your local diagnostic data. No configuration required.
- Feedback Frequency – This setting controls how often Windows asks for feedback. Set this to Never.
Change Your Activity History Settings
- Your Activity History is a collection of everything you do on your computer. It allows the operating system to remember what you are doing so you can get right back to it on your PC or phone. There are two settings to configure relating to collecting local data and syncing it to the cloud. Uncheck both boxes.
The above settings represent all of the Windows Permission General Privacy settings for Windows 10. Following the above recommendations will limit the amount of data Windows 10 is collecting, while making your computers and networks more secure and easier to maintain.
Please see our article on disabling WiFi Sense in Windows 10 to ensure that your Windows 10 computer is secure.