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The most important Windows 10 security settings for guarding your privacy

Published Aug 5th, 2015 4:25PM EDT
Windows 10 Privacy Security Tips Tricks
Image: Dell

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So you’re one of the millions of Windows users who have upgraded to Microsoft’s latest operating system and you’ve heard that the company tracks and collects a boatload of information about you. Don’t be afraid, though, there are things you can do to prevent that.

DON’T MISS: Windows 10 is spying on almost everything you do – here’s how to opt out

First of all, there’s an app to help you with your Windows 10 privacy worries. If that’s not enough, then you can go about things the good old-fashion way – fixing everything yourself.

A fresh Wired guide explains why Microsoft is collecting all that data about you, and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Microsoft isn’t trying to hide the fact it’s gathering information with Windows 10. It says so in the Terms of Service, even though you might have not read it. Microsoft collects the data to operate its business, to send communications and to better sell advertisements. Understanding these things, Wired says, will help you manage your privacy and security settings in Windows 10.

Microsoft collects information about you through its apps, meaning that the maps application uses your location, as does Cortana. The company also gathers data related to crashes, but that also means it’ll be able to see the contents of documents that were opened when Office crashes.

To stop the tracking, head to Start, then Settings and then Privacy. In there you can manage the way Windows 10 uses your location, microphone, camera, and others. You’ll also have to check the Feedback & Diagnostic usage and change the Feedback Frequency to “never”, and the Diagnostic Usage data to “basic.”

You might also want to disable Cortana, or customize what Cortana learns about you by logging in at this link – the virtual assistant can’t help you without accessing information about you. And if you’re going to do that, you should also micro manage your browser’s history. That means you have to go to Microsoft Edge, then Settings, Advanced Settings and View Advanced Settings. In there, you’ll have to check under Privacy and Services that “Have Cortana Assist Me in Microsoft Edge” is turned off. Also turn off the “use page prediction to speed up browsing, improve reading, and make my overall experience better” setting.

The company collects contact information about you so it can reach you in case it needs to, and this information may be shared with advertising partners. You can opt out of this in case you don’t want Microsoft to contact you for any purpose – if you have a Microsoft account check out this link, otherwise follow this one. You can opt out of advertising of any sort by accessing this link.

Finally, one other tip you should consider is not creating a Microsoft account to better guard your privacy, as Microsoft will not be able to associate all the data it gathers with your identity. To manage a Microsoft account, go to Settings, and then Accounts, then Your Account.

In case you want to better manage your Windows 10 experience, don’t forget to check our Windows 10 cheat sheet, our instructions for enabling GodMode, and how to deal with potential Wi-Fi Sense issues.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.