The biggest concern with Windows 10 is that it’s slowly becoming a service, meaning your personal info and every action you perform on a Windows PC are monitored. Every once in a while, Microsoft receives a report and it’s most likely done without you even realizing.
Just like any other previous Windows build, this one also gives you the possibility to stick your nose in almost all settings in order to customize this virtual space of yours. However, there’s little you can do to keep private data safe as long as you’re connected to the information superhighway.
Windows 10 gathers more data than any other previous version, especially now that it’s designed as a universal operating system for PCs and mobile devices together. For instance, if you managed to get along with Cortana, haven’t you ever wondered why and how it knows so much about you?
Although not even a month has passed since its release, the time has come to put an end to this tribute paid in personal information. Some options can be manually disabled. Don’t worry, there’s also an app that can take care of the rest.
Manually enhancing computer privacy via Settings panel
Although it can take a bit of time, we’re going to go through all Settings and see what can be done to make Microsoft collect less data.
Metered Connections: This enables Windows to automatically connect to any Wi-Fi hotspot it can find, in an attempt to keep everything updated and prevent any fees that occur when the connection moves to cellular data. Here’s where you find this option.
-> System: Offline Maps;
-> Devices: Printers & Scanners, Connected Devices.
Privacy: There’s even an entire category dedicated to your personal data. Just looking through each section reveals how much Windows knows and can find out about you. It’s safe to turn them off. Doing so prevents Windows and other apps from gathering and using location, messages, and even the way you write.
Note: In the Privacy category under Speech, Inking, & Typing, you can choose to Stop Getting To Know Me in order to disable Cortana.
Sync Settings: OneDrive is a useful component of Windows, as it can help you access some files even from another PC. However, data is stored online, and you never know who can snoop through your files. In the Accounts area, when choosing to Sync Your Settings, turn Sync Settings off.
Update & Security: Since Windows 10 isn’t quite stable on its feet, updates are (for now) an important part. We make sure to let you know when new updates roll out, so feel free to stop, or at least delay system updates.
Windows Defender: It’s the basic shield against threats. Real-time protection can’t be permanently disabled, as it automatically turns back on if it’s disabled for a while. Cloud-based Protection and Sample Submission can also be turned off. If you’re not relying on Windows Defender, pick an Antivirus to stay protected.
Stopping Windows Telemetry
There’s one last thing you need to do in order to stay off grid. You might have noticed that in the Privacy area, in Feedback & Diagnostics, there’s a Basic minimum to Send Your Device Data to Microsoft, with no option to turn it off. If you considered it impossible to turn off, think again.
Step 1: Press Win + R to launch the Run utility.
Step 2: Write down gpedit.msc to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
Step 3: Use the left navigation pane to go to Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Data Collection and Preview Builds.
Step 4: Double-click the Allow Telemetry option in the right panel.
Step 5: In the new prompt, choose to set Allow Telemetry to Disabled. Hit Apply and OK to confirm changes.
The easy way around
Freshly coming out of the development oven, O&O ShutUp10 is a hot application that bundles up pretty much everything we covered so far, and lets you disable some features for enhanced privacy. There are also suggestions in case you don’t really know what to disable.
Before you joyfully take action, we strongly recommend that you create a system restore point just so you don’t lose any data in the process. Luckily, this application can take care of this and makes the option available to you.
Shown in lists, the application can tweak features for areas like Security, Privacy, Location Services, User Behavior, Windows Update, and Miscellaneous. If you’d like to know more about it, feel free to read our editor’s review at the link above.
Following in our footsteps doesn’t ensure maximum protection nor privacy, as much as we’d like to think so. There are even more ways Microsoft can gather data from your computer, with some remaining well-hidden inside the system. Another tracking method caught in the act is via the HOSTS file, but you can check out the guide on how to edit the HOSTS file in order to turn it to your advantage.