Windows 10 Privacy settings

You just got your new computer running Windows 10.  You open your browser to search for a place to grab lunch, and Bing already knows your location. You notice that all the banner ads are geared toward your secret knitting hobby. And when you open Cortana to ask what’s going on, she knows your name and the embarrassing nickname your mother calls you.

This may seems like a stretch, but you’d be surprised by the amount of personal information Windows 10 collects from its users—information including phone numbers, GPS location, credit card numbers, and even video and audio messages. Of course, Microsoft’s privacy statement outlines all the data that is collected, and you agreed to this when you downloaded Windows 10 and checked the terms of service.

In this Age of the Unread Terms of Service Agreement, it’s important to, well, read the ToS. It’s too easy for our technologies to gather personal information without our realizing it. Microsoft is far from the only perpetrator, but since it just delivered us an exciting new operating system, it’s time to dig into those settings.

If you purchased your new computer from Cochrane Computers, all these settings have been set for you.

Turning Off the Tracking

First things first: Head to your privacy settings. Hit Start, then finding Settings, then clicking Privacy. From the Privacy menu you can alter how your computer uses the information from your location, microphone, camera and so on. While in the Privacy menu, you’ll want to click Feedback & Diagnostics and change the Feedback Frequency to “never” and Diagnostic and Usage Data to “basic.” Doing this will help prevent Microsoft from gathering random information.

Guard Your Browser History

Edge sends your Internet browsing history to Microsoft in order to “help Cortana personalize your experience.” You can turn this off by clicking on the ellipsis button in the top right corner of Edge, then go to Settings > Advanced Settings > View Advanced Settings, and under Privacy and Services turn off “Have Cortana Assist Me in Microsoft Edge.” And while you’re in the Privacy and Services menu, make sure you turn off “use page prediction to speed up browsing, improve reading, and make my overall experience better” (which is an incredible title for a default setting).  Personally, I don’t use edge. If Cochrane Computers setup your system you will have the choice of Internet Explorer or Chrome installed. Edge will be hidden.

Don’t Get Tricked Into Creating a Microsoft Account

Windows 10 also prompts you by default to create a Microsoft account, but you should probably skip this if you are concerned about your private information. Not creating an account will keep your activity and information local to your computer, while having an account will create a link for Microsoft to piece all of the metadata it gathers back to your identity. Before creating a Microsoft account, be sure to read up on its privacy policy.

In order to delete or manage your Microsoft account go to Settings > Accounts > Your Account. From here you can change from a Microsoft account to a local account.

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