There has been a lot of talk about privacy concerns in Windows 10 lately, and several good articles have been published covering what settings are available to restrict the amount of information being sent back to Microsoft. I don’t presume to be able to do a better job than any of those authors, but having now had a few customers ask me about this stuff I thought it might be nice to share what settings I personally change on my Windows 10 computers. I will also provide links at the bottom to some of the other articles out there which I used to determine what settings to change, and a couple of tools that the Windows community has made to change these and other options in Windows 10.
Here is the list of the privacy settings I change, where they are, and what they do:
Settings -> Privacy -> General
Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps – OFF – This prevents tracking for the purpose of personalizing ads you see
Send Microsoft info about how I write – OFF – Prevents sending info about how and what you write to Microsoft
Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list – OFF – Prevents websites from seeing what languages you have installed
Settings -> Privacy -> Location
Location for this device is – OFF – Turns off location tracking for all users of the computer
Settings -> Privacy -> Account Info
Let apps access my name, picture, and other account info – OFF – Prevents Windows Apps from being able to access this info
Settings -> Privacy -> Feedback & Diagnostics
Windows should ask for my feedback – NEVER – Seems self explanatory 🙂
Send your device data to Microsoft – BASIC – Minimizes the amount of diagnostic data sent to Microsoft; this cannot be turned off entirely (at least from this interface) except on Enterprise versions of Windows, and it may interfere with Windows Update working properly
Settings -> Windows Update -> Advanced Options
Choose how updates are delivered – ON, PCs on my local network – This lets your PC share Windows updates with other computers on your network, but not with remote PCs on the internet; some people might also prefer this OFF, I suppose, but leaving it on should reduce bandwidth uses for Windows Updates if you have multiple Windows 10 computers in your home / office
Cortana & Search Settings
Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more – OFF – Disables the Cortana voice assistant, which otherwise can collect info about what you ask it
Search online and include in web results – OFF – Makes the Window search option return local file results only, which presumably keeps what you search for from being reported to Bing (the default search engine for web results)
Settings -> Privacy -> Speech, Inking, & Typing
Stop getting to know me – Click to disable – Disables collection of certain personal info and typing habit data. Also turns off dictation and clears what Cortana has learned about you on this device.
That is pretty much it. I'm sure there are some options I am not aware of, and so have not covered – so if you have any additional settings that you change for privacy in Windows 10 please share them in the comments section below!
Additional Reading (articles outside Puget Systems):
Community Privacy Setting Tools (use at your own risk!):