Which Settings to Change in Windows 10 to Save Your Privacy

The following article is a guest post submitted by Caroline Black.

 In late July, Windows 10 was released with thorough fanfare and media coverage, with many praising the modification of the taskbar and start menu to something with more familiarity and ease of use. Added features such as Cortana and the next iteration of Internet Explorer, titled Edge, were also well-received, putting Windows back in the public’s good graces after the embarrassment that was Windows 8.

Yet the acclaim isn’t universal. There have also been warnings over the terms of service and default settings Microsoft attached to its new operating system, with critics saying that they were intrusive and dismissive of the user’s privacy rights.

Here are some things about Windows 10 that you need to know for the sake of your online privacy:

What Did Windows Do to Attack Your Privacy?

The most troubling aspects of Microsoft’s attack on your privacy come from the Windows 10 Privacy Policy and Service Agreement. In them, Windows forces users to agree to allow Microsoft access to data on conversations with Cortana, search inquiries, browsing history, and most worryingly contents of private folders and email. It even will collect your typed words, which is really little different than having a keylogger program installed on your computer. If users do not agree to this, then they cannot have access to Windows 10.

The other main privacy concern, and the one you can at least partially rectify, is the default settings used by Windows 10 when you boot it up. All of the data sharing options are turned on! Many find this unacceptable, and feel that these should be opt-in options instead of opt-out, but the situation cannot be changed at the present time.

Which Settings to Change

There are different screens you are going to have to navigate in order to maintain some semblance of privacy while you are using Windows 10.

  • In the general privacy settings, you need to start by switching off advertising ID so that you can’t be hit with targeted advertisements. You may also want to turn off typing and writing tracking if you are afraid of keylogging.
  • On the location settings, you will want to keep off location tracking and location history so that no one will know where you are.
  • Cortana’s settings allow it to collect data on you in order to improve it as well as sync up with other accounts and devices. If you do not want this to happen, then you are going to want to turn off Cortana completely or adjust the settings.
  • You will also want to go to the feedback and diagnostics tab and switch the feedback frequency to “basic” so that Microsoft won’t collect more data on your computer.
  • A very important feature that you will want to disable is “Wi-Fi sense”, which may share or connect you to networks that could be dangerous or collect your data. Be wary of this in particular, as it has already caused controversy in previous iterations.

You will of course want to look through all of your settings to get a better knowledge of your computer, but these are the ones that you need to watch out the most for.

Use a VPN

While you are exploring the settings and menus inside of Windows 10 in order to improve your privacy, there is one more thing that you need to do in order to protect your online identity, and that is to add a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to the tools at your disposal. A VPN will add to your privacy by connecting your computer, whether at home or on a dangerous public network, to an offsite secure server. This is done with an encrypted connection so that no person or organization can see what you are doing online. The server will also mask your IP address so that you cannot be traced.

Setting one up is simple. After signing on to your computer with an administrator account, click settings on the start menu (you can find it under “places”). From settings, proceed to the Network and Internet Icon. At this screen, you should be able to see the VPN category and “Add a VPN” as an option within that. Click on the “Add a VPN” option, and all you will have to do is input the information requested to be all set. Alternatively, some VPNs have their own programs and applications, but they are mostly self-explanatory and too varied to cover here.

Now that you know how to use one in Windows 10, you will need to know which one to pick and how they might vary. They can differ in terms of price, with the free ones generally being no good. They also differ in terms of options, which you will have to research for yourself as to the best choice for you. No matter which one you pick, your privacy will be better safeguarded by it and the changed settings from Windows 10.

Thank you for reading and I hope that you now will be able to use Windows 10 with less worry about what Microsoft is going to do with your private data.

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