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Quick privacy guide for Windows 10

Published 2 months ago  | Mark Johnson 

Break up with Cortana 

That’s right, Microsoft’s Siri-equivalent, Cortana, is abusing your relationship. Not only does Cortana track and log all of your voice data, she has access to your search history, all of your contacts and your calendar. She stores it all in the cloud - if you don’t want Cortana to be going through your private data, either turn her off entirely or follow these steps: 

  • Go to Settings and click on Cortana. 
  • Go to the Permissions tab and then manage the information Cortana can access. This allows you to turn off her access to your browsing history, calendar, contacts and all of the other private information you store on your computer.

Turn off tracking of every day activity 

  • Return to Settings and click on Privacy
  • Under General you will find settings related to personalised content and ads. Turning all of these off will limit the personal data related to search history etc. which is logged from your device. 
  • Under Speech you can turn off Online speech recognition to stop Microsoft from collecting any of your voice data through your use of Cortana. 
  • Inking and typing personalisation stores unique words, names and places you use regularly in your typing to help facilitate shortcut offers. Turn Getting to know you to the off position to stop Microsoft from storing this information about your use of your device.    

Activity history 

  • From the Settings menu click on Activity history and set it to off. This prevents Microsoft from storing and sending out your activity history on your PC. 
  • If you use multiple PCs, you may find this useful as it will collect your previous work information and allow it to be be continued on another device. 
  • Should your main concern be about privacy, it would be better to keep this turned off. You can also use the Clear activity history button here to remove any previous logging of your activity by Windows. 

Diagnostics and Feedback 

  • Again from the main Settings menu, use the Diagnostics and feedback tile to limit the information about your computer’s diagnostics which is sent to Microsoft. 
  • Using the Basic setting will prevent Microsoft collecting data about the apps you use and your browsing history, limiting them to only the most diagnostic information about how well your PC is running and whether you encounter any faults.   
  • In this menu you can also opt out of receiving tailored adverts by turning the Tailored experiences tab to “off”, switch off feedback by setting Feedback frequency to “never” and remove your current diagnostic history by clicking View diagnostic data and then clicking “delete”. 

App permissions 

  • All of these are shown in the App permissions tab you can click on in the main Settings menu. 
  • Here you can turn off Location tracking by apps using the left hand tab. You can choose to block all apps from tracking your location by clicking on the Allow apps to access your location tab and turning it to the “off” position. 
  • Should you want a single app to have access to your location, you can select it from the long list of all the apps on your device in the same menu and only give it permission by setting the Location tab to “on”. 
  • You can also remove any stored information about your location by clicking on Location history and then “Clear”. 
  • Bear in mind some apps will need to access your location to work properly - if any stop working after this process, return to the menu and adjust their location access to “on” again. 

Further privacy options for Windows 10 

If you are serious about making your Windows 10 as private as possible, you can further steps to ensure that no one is stealing your data or snooping on your private information. 

  1. When you are browsing, use a VPN. Your online life will be safe from prying eyes if you use a virtual private network to connect, encrypting your data and making it impossible for hackers, corporations or the authorities to decipher. BlufVPN can help you with ensuring that the only eyes on your browsing activity are your own.  
  2. Make sure it is not only your PC which is protected - take the same measures on your phone and any other devices you use regularly like tablets. Increased connectivity between devices is great for convenience, but terrible for privacy. 
  3. Use encrypted messaging services to chat with your friends when online. If your messages aren’t encrypted, they’re fair game to be sold on to corporations or looked into for data which can help corporations with targeted ads. 
  4. Wave goodbye to Google. Google has become built in to so many aspects of our lives online - it holds more information on us than we can imagine. If you’re serious about maintaining privacy, stop using Google and its related products immediately. 
  5. Privatise your social media, heavily. Open up the settings on all your social media accounts and set the privacy levels to their highest possible. You would be amazed what criminals can use them for - including planning out routes into your home, finding out when you’re holiday and looking for security weak spots in your property.