How to Protect your Privacy on Windows 10 Computers

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Microsoft, like many other tech companies, collects information about you, such as what you do in Windows and online, where and how you use your devices, and the kinds of data and content you mostly access.

Tech businesses often claim that they are gathering this data to give you a more specialized and individualized experience. In truth, some form of data gathering is required if you want to make the most of specific Windows functionalities. However, it’s normal to start getting concerned about how much of your private information these companies have access to.

How to protect your Privacy on Windows 10 laptops and desktops

If you’re having privacy concerns with using Windows devices, it’s easy to put some settings in place to soothe your worries. We’ve created this guide to help you accomplish this, whether you believe Microsoft’s operating system violates your privacy or simply want to make sure you safeguard as much of your private life as you can.

So, keep reading to find out the top options you have to safeguard your privacy on Windows 10 devices.

Disable Ad Tracking

What information is being collected about users while they browse the web is one of many people’s top privacy worries. With the help of this data, several businesses are typically able to target advertisements to a person’s preferences in real-time. 

Windows typically accomplishes this through the use of an advertising ID. The ID also collects information from Windows 10 apps when you use them, in addition to when you surf the web. If you like, you can disable this advertisement ID. 

  • Go to Privacy > General in the Windows 10 Settings program (by pressing the Start button in the lower-left corner of your screen, followed by the Settings symbol that resembles a gear). 
  • Under the heading “Change privacy options,” you’ll find a series of options, the first of which manages the advertising ID.
  • You’ll need to move the slider from On to Off at this point. Your interests won’t be recorded anymore, and generic adverts rather than customized ones will still be served to you.

Go to the Ad Settings area of Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard to be completely sure you aren’t tracked online while using Windows 10 and to turn off any other methods by which Microsoft will typically use your information to target adverts.  

To do this:

  • In the top right corner of the page, sign in with your Microsoft account
  • Switch the slider from On to Off in the “See adverts that interest you” box at the top of the page.

Disable Location Tracking

Everywhere you go, Windows 10 is aware of your presence. Some people don’t mind this because it enables the operating system to provide you with pertinent information, such as the weather in your area, nearby dining establishments, and so on. However, you can instruct Windows 10 to cease tracking your location if you don’t want it to.

Open the Settings app, then select Location > Privacy. Click Change, then shift the slider from On to Off on the screen that displays under “Allow access to location on this device.” By doing that, you can stop location monitoring for all the users of the PC.

You can disable location tracking in individual apps rather than making it an all-or-nothing decision. Make sure location tracking is enabled and scroll down to the section that reads “Choose apps that can use your precise location” if you only want some apps to be able to use your location and not others. 

Every Windows 10 app that can access your location will be listed for you to see. For the apps that you wish to enable to use your location, such as Weather or Maps, move the slider to On; for the apps you don’t, move it to Off.

You should note that desktop programs are not covered by this setting. In order to allow desktop programs to access your location after you enable location tracking, click that option. A list of desktop applications that use location tracking appears once you do that. For each app you wish to use your location, slide the slider to On; for each app you don’t, slide it to Off.

Restrict Cortana

Cortana is a voice-activated intelligent personal assistant, much like Apple’s Siri and Google’s creatively called Google Assistant. By using the Bing search engine of Microsoft, it can respond to questions and understands natural voice commands.

In addition to conducting searches, Cortana can store and access personal data including contacts, calendar dates, calendar reminders, and more.

The Cortana assistant’s ability to index and retain your data both locally and on the cloud is a significant downside. Also, Cortana can now synchronize data between all of your Microsoft devices.

It’s easy to restrict Cortana’s access to your personal information and modify its functionality so that it behaves more like the original Windows search bar.

You can stop it from logging information about your handwriting, speech, and previous text entry habits. Additionally, you have the option to disable the assistant’s sharing of your usage data among all of your Windows-based devices.

To limit Cortana’s access:

  • Start the Cortana app by tapping the Cortana icon on the taskbar, and then select the menu button in the top-left corner of the Cortana window to access the settings.
  • You’ll find a “Privacy” menu choice in the “Account” section of the Settings screen. Touch that.
  • The Privacy settings screen will appear next. Here, you may check the information that Cortana has on you, manage her access to your calendar and email, delete all of her data, and delete her chat history.

You may also regulate Cortana’s access to information, what she knows about you in the cloud, and what information she can get from other services. You can also decide whether or not Cortana listens constantly for your summoning word.

Summarily, these settings will typically help you control your privacy, and some other methods you should consider trying include:

  • Controlling your camera and microphone access
  • Controlling app access to your contacts and account information
  • Limiting the usage data and feedback that gets sent to Microsoft

Protecting your privacy is crucial in today’s digital world, so take advantage of the tips we’ve provided in this article to get it done correctly. Don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends so they can gain something from it as well.

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