How to increase Windows privacy – With how predatory Microsoft recently was on its Windows telemarketing, it would be understandable if you are concerned with the privacy of your data.
This predatory behaviour, unfortunately, is not only on their latest operating system which is Windows 11 but also on Windows 10 as both are still being supported with updates. Both Windows 10 and 11 alone come with a variety of controls and options that you can select and modify per your preference. However, those options, unfortunately, tend to be glossed over by lots of users by selecting the “express settings” when setting up their operating system for the first time.
If you are one of the users then worry not as in this article we are going to guide you to make sure that you regain control over your privacy. This guide can also be helpful for those who are setting up Windows for the first time as current Windows now shows some of these options during the first boot-up.
Turn off the targeted advertising
One of the common concerns for many users is the data that Microsoft telemarketing collected for its targeted advertisement. Most of the time, the valuable data that they collected are from our browsing history and we can all agree that we don’t want anyone to be constantly sniffing at what we are looking at on the internet.
To disable this, click the Windows start button on the taskbar and search for settings. Look at the left panel and find the privacy & security options then go to the general tab.
There, you have several options to choose from ranging from letting apps know our advertising ID to letting Windows show suggested contents in the settings app. Feel free to enable or disable the available options to your liking however we recommend disabling the advertising ID access.
Why? It’s because advertising ID is basically your profile that contains information that Microsoft uses to guess what content you might like and was gathered from curating your activities. Turning this off will reset it to a clean slate with the drawback that you might see ads that are too general.
Limit the diagnostic and feedback to a bare minimum
By default, Microsoft left these options on to “keep Windows secure and up to date, troubleshoot problems, and make product improvements”. However, the default diagnostic options also include the ability for Windows to read each website that you are visiting which for some may sound too overreaching.
Fortunately, Microsoft gave us the option to opt out of those by disabling the option to send optional diagnostic data. The toggle can be found in the privacy & security option then go to the diagnostic & feedback tab and select diagnostic data.
Disable your activity history
With the recent change made by Microsoft to require its users to be signed up to Microsoft accounts, the activity history that initially stores your information locally, will now also be uploaded to their cloud. They argue that this will help users to have a seamless and tailored experience when switching devices as anything that the users have done on one device will be automatically linked to their other device.
However, if you are not keen on that idea, the only way to stop it now is to disable the option altogether. To do this, go back to privacy & security then select activity history and disable store my activity history on this device.
You may also want to select clear activity history for this account as it helps remove the residual information gathered before you disable this option.
Turn off or limit your location tracking preference
Enabling the location services might be helpful to some extent such as being able to receive accurate information through Windows’ weather app or if you are an avid user of Microsoft’s Discover feature. Therefore, we leave this to you whether you want to keep it or not.
Though, it also won’t hurt if you want to limit the number of apps that can get access to your exact locations such as the camera for example. To do this, go to privacy & security then find locations.
Inside the tab, you can enable or disable the location tracking by toggling the location services on or off. To limit app access, select the let app access your location option and disable apps that you think you don’t want to share with.
If you are concerned about the privacy of your data while using Windows 10 or 11, there are several ways to keep them at a minimum. By disabling options such as targeted advertising, limiting the amount of information Microsoft can gather through diagnostic & feedback, turning off the activity history and or limiting the location tracking, it helps to protect our privacy from Microsoft to some extent.
There are other far more extreme methods to regain our privacy from Microsoft such as using a custom community-made Windows however at the same time you are also risking your own data safety as those operating systems are not verified by Microsoft which may contain something harmful. Another safer option is to ditch Windows altogether and start learning Linux.