Settings for a more private Windows 10

Introduction

As a web worker, I am well aware of the vast benefits provided by the internet and at the same time see a lot of negatives. One of the more prominent negatives is invasion of one’s privacy and this invasion is only going to grow year on year, and with every new release of software. Fortunately, Windows 10 still gives us the option to turn off and/or limit the amount of data we share with their services, apps and third party apps.

Disclaimer: The privacy settings outlined in this article is not an exhaustive list and by turning off some of the settings, your Windows 10 experience would be reduced & some app features will not work.

Settings to change

Cortana search settings

You can access Cortana’s search settings by clicking on the ‘search icon’ next to the ‘Windows icon’ on the Windows Taskbar.

Figure 1. Windows Taskbar.

Then click on the ‘cog icon’ on the left hand sidebar of the popup dialog. My recommendation is to turn both Cortana and ‘search online and include web results’ Off. However, if you like Cortana, you could leave her on, but as a minimum have ‘search online and include web results’ turn off. This is very important, because you do not want share your private sensitive searches with Microsoft servers. E.g. searching your documents for a password.

Next you would want to click on the ‘Other privacy settings’ link to open up the ‘Privacy settings dialog’.

Figure 2. Windows Taskbar showing Cortana settings dialog.

Privacy settings

Note: You may wish to go through every tab under Privacy settings and turn off all the settings that apply to your specific needs. The ones outlined below are just my recommendations.

If you followed the steps above, you can skip the below instructions to open up the Privacy settings dialog.

Steps to open Privacy dialog

  1. clicking on the ‘Windows icon’ on the Windows Taskbar
  2. click on the ‘cog icon’ with label ‘settings’ in the start menu
  3. click on ‘Privacy item’ in settings dialog.

General

The important setting to turn off on this tab is the setting that let apps use your advertising ID.

Figure 3. Privacy settings dialog – General tab.

Location

I leave location on for my mobile phone (as I need it for GPS, etc.), but for my desktop, I do not see much benefit in having this turned on.

Figure 4. Privacy settings dialog – Location tab.

Account Info

Leave this on, if you play games or apps that require your ID to work.

Figure 5. Privacy settings dialog – Account Info tab.

Feedback & Diagnostics

Unless you feel like being nagged to provide feedback to Microsoft, I suggest you set feedback to ‘never’. Sadly for ‘Diagnostic and usage data’, there’s no turning it off completely, so set it to ‘Basic’.

Figure 6. Privacy settings dialog – Feedback & Diagnostics tab.

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