Back in the day when privacy was not a looming concern for users, Microsoft Windows barely offered any insight into what security features were being implemented and the privacy settings that were in place. As the internet has evolved and user data collection has become the digital currency of the modern day, Microsoft has evolved to offering an open-book approach to privacy settings on Windows 10. There have been plenty of red flags that have been mentioned when it comes to the wide range of user tracking features that have been built into Windows 10.
From the virtual voice assistant Cortana that is
always listening in and analyzing your user pattern to serve you better, to advertisement
targeted based on your usage history, there are plenty of privacy concerns when
it comes to Windows 10. Bringing more transparency in terms of privacy settings,
the operating system offers ways to tone down these user data tracking features
and helps you reclaim your computer machine. We’ve highlighted the most useful
settings in Windows 10 that are sure to put your privacy as priority.
Disable Ad Tracking
Each official Microsoft Windows 10 user is assigned an Advertising ID by the system which suggests ads to you based on your apps usage. While this feature allows the company to offer you targeted ads, it does raise some privacy concerns over which you would want to disable it. However, the good part is that Windows 10 offers you the ability to turn off these personalized ads the easy way:
From the home screen of your system,
head over to the Settings app.
Navigate your way to Privacy – General,
where you will see the Advertising ID toggle.
Press the toggle switch to disable
it, which should keep the personalized ads at bay.
Set up a Local Account
If you don’t use Microsoft service such as Office 365 and OneDrive across different devices, there’s little to no reason for using your Microsoft account for logging into your Windows 10 PC. Instead of using your email address and password to access your computer, you can set up a local account with a Username and Password, just like you did on older Windows operating systems.
Head over to the Settings app
through the Start menu of your Windows 10 PC.
Open the Accounts tab,
navigate to Your info and click the link that reads – Sign in with a local
You will be asked to enter your Microsoft
account password to access the settings.
Enter your User name, Password,
Reenter Password and then a Password hint along with it.
The next time you log into your
Windows 10 computer, you will be able to use the local account to access the
Manage Cortana Privacy Settings
The smart voice assistant developed by Microsoft is surely a step into the future, but is also takes a huge chunk out of your privacy too. Since Cortana can actively hear you, browse through your offline data, scan through emails and so much more, there’s a bunch of private data that is funneled through it. Fortunately, there is a way to filter what privacy permissions Cortana can be granted in concern to your user data.
Head over to the Settings app
on your Windows 10 computer and open the Cortana tab.
From the section on the side, select
the Permissions & History tab.
Under the Permissions section, click
on the link that reads “Manage the information Cortana can access from this
Here you will be able to enable or
disable access from Cortana to Location, Contacts, Emails, Browsing History,
You can then go back to select “Manage
the information Cortana can access from other services”.
From the Connected services
tab, you will be able to choose which services (Skype, Outlook, Gmail, etc.)
Cortana can access for a personalized experience.
General Privacy Options
Apart from the selective options, there are a bunch of general privacy settings that are included in the Windows 10 system. This usually includes web-browser based local content, personalized suggestions that are offered in the Start menu, and offering more accurate search results every time.
Head over to the Settings app on your
PC and navigate to the Privacy tab that you see on the screen.
Here you will be able to see privacy
settings options that you can choose to disable or keep enabled for a better
Press the toggle switch right next to
each of the options such as “Show me suggested content in the Settings app”
and fine-tune the privacy options.
Disable Sync Settings
The way Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to work is quite similar to how Android OS works in relation to your Google account. Similar to how all of your contacts, emails, calendar entries, and app preferences are synced from your phone to the registered Google account, all of the above elements from your Windows 10 PC are also synced across the platform. Fortunately, Windows 10 offers you the ability to control the aspects of your user data that is synced across other devices associated with your Microsoft account.
Head over to the Settings app
on your Windows 10 computer and click on the Accounts button.
Select the “Sync your settings”
tab on the sidebar on the screen.
Here you can choose to disable Sync
settings entirely, or you can disable Individual sync settings as
Bonus: Use W10Privacy
Since privacy concerns are widespread among Windows 10 users, and there are millions of Windows 10 users out there, it should not be surprising to find out that there are a bunch of third-party privacy tools out there for you to try out. Rather than going too deep into the list, we’ve hand-picked W10Privacy, as it offers the simplest way to manage all of the privacy settings on your Windows 10 computer.
Offering more than 10 different security and privacy
tabs that you can toggle on or off based on your preference, the options are
color-coded in green, yellow, and red, where green is a recommended setting,
yellow is conditional, and red denoted settings that have negative effects.
This makes it easier even for newbie Windows 10 users to successfully choose
their privacy settings without hindering their user experience.
Apart from all of the options that you get to
fine-tune the privacy settings of your Windows 10 computer, there is also the
ability to manage all of it from the Microsoft Privacy
Dashboard. By signing into your privacy dashboard account using the
Microsoft account login, you can manage the browsing data, review the location
data saved by your devices, edit and clear the search history and so much more.
Are you among those privacy geeks who will be making
the most out of these privacy settings on your Windows 10 PC to make your user
experience more secure? Be sure to share your thoughts on it in the comments