Microsoft Windows 10 offers many features and services that can enhance your user experience and productivity. However, some of them may also compromise your privacy and security. For example, some features may collect and send your personal information to Microsoft or its partners, some services may access your location or other sensitive data, and some apps may run in the background even when you are not using them. These settings may expose you to various risks, such as data breaches, targeted ads, unwanted spam, identity theft, and other potential threats. That’s why it’s important to review and change your privacy settings in Windows 10 according to your preferences and needs. This article explores 7 Windows 10 privacy settings you should change (turn off) to enhance online security and prevent third parties from accessing, collecting, and using your personal information without your consent.
How to protect your privacy in Windows 10
Privacy is a fundamental human right, and it is also essential for your online security. By adjusting Windows 10 privacy settings you can prevent third parties from accessing, collecting, and using your personal information without your consent. This can help you avoid identity theft, targeted ads, unwanted spam, and other potential threats. Moreover, changing your privacy settings can also improve your device performance, battery life, and bandwidth usage by limiting the background activities of apps and services.
- Safeguard sensitive data to prevent unauthorized access and misuse.
- Reduce personalized ad targeting by disabling features like Advertising ID.
- Adjust settings to minimize the risk of unauthorized access and security vulnerabilities.
- Gain control over data shared with Microsoft and other applications.
- Efficiently manage network resources by adjusting settings like Delivery Optimization.
- Tailor your computing environment based on privacy preferences.
- Improve system performance by disabling unnecessary background apps.
Disable Telemetry and Data Collection
Microsoft collects diagnostic and usage data to improve the user experience and troubleshoot issues. This includes about your device’s performance, usage, and errors to improve its products and services. However, it can also contain sensitive information about your device and activities.
Choosing a lower telemetry setting, such as Basic, helps strike a balance between contributing to system improvements and maintaining a higher level of privacy.
- Press the Windows key + X and select settings
- Go to Privacy then Diagnostics & feedback and select the option that says “Required diagnostic data”.
- This will limit the data collection to the minimum required for Windows 10 to function properly
Stop windows displaying personalized ads
Windows 10 assigns users a unique advertising ID to personalize ads based on your interests. And while using Windows 10 all usage behavior is recorded through the unique advertising ID to display personalized ads. But the problem is that this digital footprint does not remain only on Microsoft servers, since it also ends up in the hands of other companies.
Disabling this feature ensures that apps and services don’t track your preferences for targeted advertising.
- Open “Settings” and go to “Privacy” then “General”
- Here toggle off the option that says “Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps.”
We recommend turn off all four options here.
Turn off location services
Some applications and services use your device’s location to provide location-based services. While Location services can be useful for some apps, such as maps or weather, but they can also be misused by malicious actors to track your movements and activities. Turning off location access globally or for specific apps prevents unnecessary tracking of your physical whereabouts.
- Open Windows 10 settings and Go to Privacy the Location.
- Toggle off the option that says “Allow apps to access your location”.
- Also, you can manage device location access by clicking the change menu.
Disabling location services protects your privacy by limiting the data shared with apps and services, reducing the risk of unauthorized access to your location information.
Turn off app permissions
In Windows 10, applications often request various permissions to access features like the camera, microphone, location, and more. App permissions can be necessary for some apps to function properly, such as video calls or social media, but they can also be abused by malicious apps or hackers to spy on you or steal your data. By turning off app permissions, you regain control over what data applications can access and use on your device.
- Go to Settings then Privacy and select the category of app permissions you want to review.
- For each category, you can see which apps have access to that information and toggle them off as needed.
Turn off background apps
Windows 10 allows apps to run in the background to stay updated and provide notifications. Background apps can be useful for some apps that need to update or notify you regularly, such as email or news, but they can consume system resources and may pose privacy risks. Disabling unnecessary background apps can improve system performance and limit the data these apps can access.
- Go to “Settings” > “Privacy” > “Background apps”
- Toggle off the option that says “Let apps run in the background”.
- You can also choose which apps you want to allow or not by toggling the individual options below.
Prevents constant synchronization
This setting allows Microsoft to sync your settings and preferences across your devices using your Microsoft account. Sync settings can be convenient for some users who want to have a consistent experience across their devices, but they can also pose a risk if someone else accesses your account or device
While synchronization is essential for keeping data up-to-date, it may raise concerns about privacy and bandwidth usage.
By preventing constant synchronization, you have more control over when and how data is shared with external servers.
- Open Windows 10 Settings Go to Accounts then Windows backup
- Toggle off the option that says “Sync settings”.
- You can also choose which settings you want to sync or not by toggling the individual options below.
Turn off timeline sync
This setting allows Microsoft to sync your activity history across your devices using your Microsoft account. Timeline sync can be useful for some users who want to resume their tasks from different devices, but it can also pose a risk if someone else accesses your account or device.
To turn it off, go to Settings > System > Multitasking and toggle off the option that says “Sync your activities across devices”.
Turning off timeline sync prevents the continuous sharing of your activity history between devices.
Block updates from uploading
While Windows Update is crucial for keeping your system secure, the Delivery Optimization feature may use your computer to upload updates to other users on the internet. Adjusting these settings ensures a balance between contributing to the community and controlling the impact on your network.
- Navigate to “Settings” then “Update & Security” and click on “Windows Update”
- Go to “Advanced options” then “Delivery Optimization” and adjust the settings accordingly.
- We recommend toggle off the Allow downloads from other computers option.
By customizing Delivery Optimization settings, users can manage network bandwidth usage and avoid potential privacy concerns associated with sharing updates with other users.
In addition, Open Settings by pressing Windows + I. Go to System and Select Notifications & actions. Here Review the entire list of notifications that exist. Uncheck those that you are not directly interested in receiving, such as Windows tricks or recommendations.
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