Windows 10 can be used with a Microsoft account or Local account. Therefore, privacy worries are part of today’s digital world.
Location tracking . Ad Tracking . Cortana . Apps . Diagnostic data . Background services . Privacy items . Some ways by which data passes through.
Troubleshooting Data . Primarily collected to solve technical issues and other related problems. Microsoft promises that it won’t sell your private data to any third party or use it for their selfish motives.
To some extent, you can shield your Privacy using the in-built options of Windows 10.
For example visited websites, cookie information, app usage. Some intelligence might transfer between your Windows 10 device and Microsoft data centers.
It can be for support or any other issues. Even Google, Facebook, Amazon face privacy issues. In this review, we will see the integral Windows 10 privacy settings that will fortify your identity to some extent.
Following below privacy protection methods also will apply to 20H2 and 2004 updates.
Further Reading – Fix Windows 10 Brightness Not Working after Update – 11 Solutions
Turn off General Privacy to prevent Ads
Microsoft uses an advertising ID to display ads to you based on your app activity to the unknown.
In other cases also, this ID is used to identify your browsing, purchase, and other habits.
You can reset this ID by turning off the following setting.
- Press the Win + I keys together to open the Settings app.
- Click on Privacy> General
- There are four privacy options.
- Apps using your Advertising ID for showing personalized ads.
- Websites are providing locally relevant content based on your language preferences.
- Prevent Windows 10 from tracking your app launches.
- Stop suggested content in the Settings App.
- Turn off sync settings for the above four choices.
It is the first and basic privacy situation to secure yourself from unwanted ads, apps, and sites.
Further Reading – How to Add a Family Member to Microsoft Account in 2020
Stop Location Sharing with other Apps
If some kids or school-going children using their Windows 10 laptops for homework and other purposes, a parent would like to track their location.
Similarly, users would like to get weather information, a nearby restaurant, hospitals, medical shops, dining areas, hotels based on their location. You can also set a default location for app usage.
In such cases, you can use this option though it has privacy concerns.
- Click on Location below App permissions on the same screen.
- The following settings are available here.
- Allow access to location on this device
- Allow apps to access your location
- Default location
- Location history
- Choose which apps can access your precise location
- Allow desktop apps to access your location
- Turn off the required location access to suit your needs.
The best way is to allow location access to Windows 10 and prevent dangerous/spying apps from accessing your location.
From the Action Center also, you can change location access. Geofencing is for the care of toddlers. Sometimes, teenagers also try to cross boundaries. Then this will display a message based on the hardware connected to Windows 10.
Turn off Diagnostics & Feedback sharing
Two choices are available here –
- Required diagnostic data
- Optional diagnostic data
So what option you choose, a certain amount of data is gathered from your Windows 10 device.
The primary use of this feature is to send some “related” information about your device, apps, sites, browsing history to Microsoft. It claims that it is secure.
This information is mainly used to troubleshoot any problems and for the Microsoft Technical Support team to look at the error codes sent through this diagnostic information.
It also helps in making Windows 10 better and other product improvements. Microsoft guarantees that which of the above option you use, your device is secure and operates normally.
The first setting will only send info about your device, its settings like the desktop resolution, basic location, personalized experiences, themes, and performance metrics.
In many cases, I choose this option as I don’t prefer the Microsoft team for fixing my errors or problems.
The second setting will collect more optional data like the websites you use, the way you use apps and their features, device health, device activity, and additional error reporting. It will add the required diagnostic data will be added to this information.
- Improve inking and Typing
- Tailored Experiences
- View Diagnostic data
- Delete Diagnostic data
- Feedback frequency
Typing history and handwriting usage (based on the hardware used) create a personal dictionary and profile.
It makes better suggestions when you use these tools in other apps and programs. It automatically gets turned off when you choose the “Required diagnostic data” option.
Microsoft will provide personalized tips, ads, and recommendations, excluding information about your sites visited to enhance personal experiences. Even though you turned off Advertising ID, this will provide relevant, personalized ads. You can turn it off for privacy protection.
The 3rd and 4th options are used to see what diagnostic data Microsoft is collecting.
Why Not to see Diagnostic Information ?
There is a tool called “Diagnostic Data Viewer” But this is only for expert troubleshooters and coders who can understand the language of Windows 10.
Basic users can be confused with the amount of data it shows and will cause more doubts.
Better not to use this tool. Instead, clear your diagnostic data using the 4th option from time to time.
Using the Feedback hub, Microsoft displays a form or notice to collect your voice on Windows 10 features. But this can be annoying for every app or error code or problem. I would better suggest keeping this option to “Never,” so you need not give any feedback.
Clear Microsoft Account Privacy History
To keep your personalized settings and transfer to another device easy, the Redmond giant introduced Microsoft Account. You were connected with various other apps, software, and tools like OneDrive, Skype, Microsoft Office 365, Meetings, Outlook, and many others.
When you use this account, most of your private information is stored and connected with it. Making use of the web interface, you can see all the details about them.
- Browsing history,
- Search history,
- Location activity,
- Voice activity,
- Media activity,
- Product and service activity,
- Product and service performance,
- Cortana’s Notebook data,
- LinkedIn information,
- Advertising preferences,
- Microsoft News Community,
- Other App activity
You can clear most of the history and activity using your Microsoft account. For complete details, you can look at this tutorial on privacy settings.
Turn off Device Activity History
If you navigate to Settings > Privacy > Activity History, you can see two more options. These are –
- Store my activity history on this device
- Send my activity history to Microsoft.
You can uncheck the second option to prevent Microsoft from knowing your information about the sites you visited, apps, and services-related activity and preferences.
One can also clear the history of your Microsoft account on your device from this page, time to time.
Turn off App Permissions
To safeguard your privacy from apps peeking into your browsing and activity, you can limit their permissions. Prevent them from accessing some of your hardware like microphone, camera, phone calls, devices, etc.
It makes sure that NOT only Microsoft but other apps are also prevented from accessing your activity related to your device and other information.
Some of the permission which can be denied access to the apps are –
- Voice activation
- Account Info
- Phone calls
- Call history
- Other devices
- Background apps
- App diagnostics
- Automatic file downloads
- File System
Though the same device is used by multiple accounts or users on Windows 10, this creates a conflict of interest when apps, software, bookmarks are shared in-between.
If you allow diagnostic information (mentioned earlier) to be collected, apps may also have gained this knowledge. Also, one app intelligence like Skype and OneDrive data can be used by some other third-party apps.
In such cases, you can prevent apps from accessing diagnostic info about other apps. In this way, each app’s privacy is maintained.
There are privacy tools like O&O Shutup10, making the enabling and disabling of isolation options more easy and simple.
Using such software, all the privacy settings of Windows 10 are available at your fingertips on one screen. It keeps botheration about visiting various locations to maintain security to minimal.
But there are cons of using such tools also. Since they are third-party software, we can’t be sure what changes they make to your computer or device. In many cases, it is advisable to use the above settings to have some privacy.
Finally, complete security, privacy, protection of your data, browsing history, app permissions is impossible. Some info still gets a pass-through to Microsoft when you are connected to the Internet.
But the above settings make sure that at least you have some privacy privileges.