How to protect your privacy in Windows 10?
Many Windows users are now becoming more and more concerned about data privacy. Windows 10 is built to share data, but by default, it does a seriously lousy job at privacy. If you think about it, on any of our personal Windows computers there's heaps of personal data, including our account logins, our images, and financial data that we would prefer to keep private, and away from prying eyes.
Windows 10 is a mix of software and services. With every session, a Windows 10 device exchanges a great deal of information with Microsoft's servers. That's neither unusual nor alarming. There has been some concern that Windows 10 gathers too much private information from users. If you’re a Windows 10 user and you’re concerned about how the operating system collects your data, we're here to help. As Windows is a quite flexible and configurable OS and can be set up to protect your privacy in lots of ways. Here's how to protect your privacy in just a few steps. Follow these steps to ensure your data’s protection.
Let's see the steps -
Disable ad tracking
Every time you surf the net, you leave a trail of breadcrumbs that lead directly to your online profile. This problem is easily solved by deactivating ad tracking. Windows 10, however, goes a tad further by using an advertising ID, which gathers information based on web browsing usage and whenever you use Windows 10 apps. To take care of that, launch the Settings app, go to General, look for “Change privacy options,” then move the slider from on to off. If you want to make sure you have no virtual stalkers, head to choice.microsoft.com/en-us/opt-out and disable the “Personalized ads whenever I use my Microsoft account” tab.
Whether you use a local account or Microsoft account, make sure you use a strong, alphanumeric password. Passwords more secure rather than PINs for local accounts.
Disable Wi-Fi Sense
This feature is designed to let you easily share Wi-Fi connections with specific users, but hackers can misuse it to log on to your network without your permission. To disable it, launch the Setting app, go to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > and click on Wi-Fi Sense. From there, deactivate two bars: “Connect to suggested open hotspots” and “Connect to networks shared my contacts”.
Randomize hardware address on WiFi
Enabling random hardware addresses makes you less prone to tracking across different WiFi networks. Note that not all devices support this. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi.
Don’t link PC with Microsoft account
You can create a local account instead. This avoids sharing data about your account, although you lose the ability to share data across devices. Go to Settings > Accounts > Sign in with a local account instead.
Turn off location tracking
Windows 10 can determine your location to help with actions like automatically setting your current time zone. It can also record a location history on a per-device basis. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location to control. If location is on, a list at the bottom of the Settings > Privacy > Location page allows you to disable access to that data on a per-app basis.
To turn it off, launch the Settings app, tap Privacy, and disable the Location tab. If you wish to share your location with certain apps, scroll down and activate the ‘Choose apps that can use your location’ tab and choose your desired apps. Only enable tracking for specific apps if needed.
- Click on Start > Settings > Privacy.
- Click Location option on the left.
- Slide Location service to ON.
- Scroll down to the app list.
- Turn off tracking individually for all except necessary apps.
Turn off Cortana
If you enable Cortana, Windows 10 uploads some info from your devices, such as your calendar, contacts, and location and browsing history, so that Cortana can make personalized recommendations. If you don't want any accounts on your PC to use Cortana, disable the feature completely. Turn off Cortana completely. If you don't want Cortana to respond to voice input, make sure the "Hey Cortana" option is set to Off. The two Lock Screen options allow you to disable voice control and suppress Cortana's access to email, calendar items, and Power BI data when the device is locked. You’ll see a variety of personal content, ranging from finance to flights, news, sports, and much more. Click the content you want Cortana to stop tracking, then follow the instructions for deleting it. If you want to delete all the data Cortana has gathered about you, click “Clear Cortana data” on the right side of the screen.
Turn off speech services
Windows 10 use some feedback from the way you type, write, and speak to improve performance for you and as a way to improve the overall platform. A separate feature uses your speech and writing history to make better suggestions in Windows and Cortana. You can control these options under Settings > Privacy > Speech, inking, & typing. Click Turn off speech services and typing suggestions so that your typos aren't used to improve things like the built-in spell checker. To clear previously saved information associated with your Microsoft account, click the first link under the Manage cloud info heading. That takes you to the Microsoft Account Privacy Dashboard, where you can review and clear saved information on the Privacy Dashboard.
Turn off Timeline
April 2018 Update introduced a new feature called Timeline that lets you review and then resume activities and open files you’ve started on your Windows 10 PC, as well as any other Windows PCs and devices you have. In order to do that, Windows needs to gather information about all your activities on each of your machines. If that worries you, it’s easy to turn Timeline off. To do it, go to Settings > Privacy > Activity History and uncheck the boxes next to “Let Windows collect my activities from this PC,” and “Let Windows sync my activities from this PC to the cloud.” However, it still keeps information about your old activities and shows them in your Timeline on all your PCs. To get rid of that old information, in the “Clear activity history” section of the screen, click “Clear.” Note that you’ll have to take these steps on all of your PCs to turn off the tracking of your activities.
Change your app permissions
Windows apps have the potential to invade your privacy - they can have access to your camera, microphone, location, pictures, and videos. When the Windows 10 April 2018 update was released, though, it gave users the ability to decide, in a very granular way, what kind of access each app can have. To do this, go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features. You’ll see a list of your installed apps. Click the app whose permissions you want to control, then click Advanced options and set the app's permissions by toggling them either on or off.
Control diagnostic data
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, head to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback.
Use the Privacy Dashboard
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. To get to it, go to https://account.microsoft.com/privacy/.
When you sign in with a Microsoft account, you have the option to save files to the cloud using OneDrive. Windows 10 also sync some settings to OneDrive, allowing you to have the same desktop background, saved passwords, and other personalized settings when you sign in with that account on multiple PCs. If you use a local account, of course, none of your settings are synced. If you use a Microsoft account, you can turn off syncing completely or remove certain settings from the sync list by going to Settings > Accounts > Sync Your Settings. OneDrive is an opt-in service. If you don't sign in, it does nothing. You can't save files to OneDrive accidentally, and no files are uploaded without your explicit permission, which you can revoke any time. So, disable OneDrive for all users on your PC if not needed.
Don’t connect WiFi networks automatically
Windows 10 can connect to suggested open WiFi hotspots automatically. Disable this setting to give you more control over your network connections. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi.
Let us know about your Windows 10 experiences with us in the comment section. Thank you!