From the Start menu, you can press Settings and then on Privacy to see all the options to change to protect the privacy of data on the PC. They are organized in various categories, with almost all the switches activated by default. While some settings are practically mandatory for the use of the PC without limitations, others instead definitely go disabled to avoid sharing private data and information regarding the way we use the computer and the Windows 10 apps.
- Microsoft creates an ID for each user linked to advertisements and this can be deactivated in the general Windows 10 Privacy settings.
- What is spoken verbally using the Cortana Windows 10 service and what is written using the spelling correction tool can be registered by Microsoft.
- Windows supports a location service that allows applications and services to know our position in the world.
- Microsoft automatically synchronizes some settings Windows when logging in with a Microsoft account. This is done to provide users with a personalized and integrated experience if they use multiple Windows 10 PCs and smartphones. The data that is synchronized includes the installed applications and their settings, the Edge web browser history and favorites, passwords, wireless network names, and shared printers.
- Microsoft collects other user data on computer use, on installed software, configuration data, network, and connection data.
- Microsoft may access, disclose and store our personal data, including the content of these (such as the content of emails or files in private folders), when necessary in the event of a violation of the terms governing the use of the services.
Privacy settings to be disabled
To open the Windows 10 privacy settings you can go through the Start menu or the notification menu (by pressing the message button at the bottom right near the clock). There are at least five essential Windows 10 privacy settings that need to be changed to reduce the amount of data that Microsoft collects while using the PC.
Data collection for advertisements
In General Settings, under the Privacy settings it is possible to deactivate the Announcement ID, under the “Allow apps to use the classifieds ID to make ads more interesting for you based on the use of apps“.
If you deactivate this option, Microsoft will reset the advertising ID and reset the previously collected data.
In this same section of the general tab, you can disable the options without problems.
Location data and location access
You can disable access to the location if you do not want Microsoft to detect where our PC is located. To do this, go to Privacy Settings, scroll down the right column and below App permissions press up Location. Then press the button Edit below “Allow access to the location in this device“to disable thelocation access for this device.
In the same menu, you can also check if the apps installed in Windows 10 have access to position data or not and you can disable this access by turning off the switch: “Allow apps to access your location“.
Once done, scroll down this screen to find the list of all the apps and activate the location to the apps that really need them such as the Weather app and Maps.
Most people don’t use the Cortana voice assistant on PC, so you can’t see why this should remain active anyway, since it’s also quite invasive of privacy.
In Privacy settings of Windows 10, go to the section dedicated to Voice commands and disable all settings. Under the Microphone section (scroll down the left column), disable access to Microphone for Cortana. In Voice Activation, disable all options. In we see the section Cortana, here disable the microphone access, the keyboard shortcut to recall the assistant, the lock screen access and all other options. Below the section Messaging, deactivate Cortana.
In Settings, go to the section Research to be able to configure Authorizations and history and disable cloud search (unless you use this service), device history and search history.
Privacy settings on typing
One of the most glaring Windows 10 privacy problems is the fact that Microsoft retains a typing history that would be useful for improving its automatic correction system. This data collection has been much criticized, I even think that a Microsoft keylogger on Windows 10 is present. In Settings> Privacy> Ink input and typing it is worthwhile to deactivate the option under Info about you.
Windows Feedback and diagnostics
Microsoft periodically collects diagnostic and feedback data from its system that, according to what Microsoft is told, keeps Windows 10 safe and up to date. There is no possibility to completely disable this setting, but you can limit the diagnostic data that Microsoft records on your PC significantly. To do it, go up Privacy settings > Feedback and diagnostics and disable all screen options (including Tailor-made experience is Improves input and typing), placing a Diagnostic data, one Basic collection instead of the complete collection.
In the same menu, you can also view the collected diagnostic data and delete them completely with a button.
It’s not over, scrolling down the left column of the privacy settings, click on App diagnostics and disable the option.
Other Windows 10 privacy settings
Remaining in Privacy Settings, we briefly see the other options that you can customize and disable.
- Access to the camera (which is also the webcam) and the microphone they are useful for certain photo and video chat apps so you don’t need to turn it off. You can still choose which apps can use the camera and which microphone and turn it off for unused apps. Keep in mind that we always talk about Windows applications, those that can be downloaded from the store and not normal desktop programs.
- Their Activity chronology is a useful feature in Windows 10 as seen in another article, but if the PC is shared with other people, maybe it’s better to disable it from the Privacy Settings menu.
- Account Info is a privacy option that can be disabled if you do not want Windows 10 applications to know our name and access our photo or other account information.
- Calendar, Messaging, Email, Phone Calls, Activities, and Contacts are options for applications to allow or deny access to this information. Since they are specific to apps like mail or calendar, it is better not to deactivate these switches.
- The radio refers to the use of Bluetooth by applications to send and receive data on the device.
- The category Other devices are used to decide with which other wireless devices to synchronize the application data. If you do not have a Windows Phone smartphone, Android (with the use of the Microsoft app) or an Xbox you can also disable everything.
- You can here disable background applications in Windows 10, as explained in another article.
- Documents, Images, Video and File System are options to remove the app’s permission to see the computer’s files, but should not be touched so as not to prevent these applications from working.
After changing the settings mentioned above, Microsoft will not collect sensitive data about us, but it is still possible to limit the sharing of information sent from the PC in use almost completely using automatic tools to prevent data collection in Windows 10 (to be used with caution, however, because some options are vital for the operation of some apps).