In this post, we’re going to cover Windows 10 Privacy Leaks and what you can do get your Privacy back.

Now while a lot of people don’t mind sharing their entire life with Microsoft… there are some of you who would like to maintain your privacy…

Some of the settings I share with you here… may be a little overkill, but I’ll leave the decision up to you as to how far you’d like to go.

So in this post, I’m going to show you how to fix all of your windows 10 privacy settings, so that you can stop any unwanted data leaks from taking place…

…or at least have as much control as possible over your data and who gets to see it.

And so this way…

you can decide for yourselves what information you’re sharing with Microsoft.

I’ll give you as much information as I can on each setting so that you understand  what it is that you are sharing…

or no longer sharing.

But before I continue…here’s my pitch

I’m in the business of Computer Support…

So…if you like what you see and you feel that you’d like us to handle your support issues for you…

Then… please feel free to call me on 0782 004 522…

and let’s set up an appointment to come over and get this stuff sorted…

I’d love to have you as a customer!

Right let’s get on with it…

Now before we get into this… I want you to know that this post is for information purposes only…

 and I am not responsible for any outcome…whether good or bad, that you may get as a result of going  ahead and making these or any other changes on your computer…

You do this entirely at your own risk…

I’m sure you understand…by now… that Microsoft is collecting all sorts of data from your windows 10 personal computer…

and some of that data you might not want to share with them…

Now Microsoft is a business…

And… as a business, their goal is to make money, so this isn’t a conspiracy…and it’s not personal.

As a business they are moving away from operating system design…

and moving towards cloud services, marketing and advertising…

simply because that’s where the money is…

And that means that… You and Your Data… are the product, so to speak.

So they collect data from your personal computer…and they sell this data to companies that may want to use targeting to promote their products to you…

That’s all this is…nothing more and nothing less!

Let me expand on this…

So let’s just say, for the sake of argument… that all of a sudden you want a new car and you begin searching online for cars that you may fancy…

Soon…you develop a taste for Toyota and you narrow your search specifically looking at Toyota Cars…

Now you may not be aware of it…but you’ll soon start noticing…

that wherever you go on the internet…you’ll begin seeing ads related to Toyota vehicles…

Well…that’s called “Re-Targeting”…

It’s awesome…especially for marketers…and of course those of you interested in using this technology may want to research this topic…

But the downside of this is…

Basically everything that happens on your personal computer…

Is all being tracked and uploaded to Microsoft’s Cloud…

Now like I said before… this data is collected mostly for advertising purposes and there’s no conspiracy behind this…

But it’s at your expense…

This data that they’re collecting is being uploaded to their cloud servers on your bandwidth…

which of course you’re paying for…

and as you’ll see a little later on…

There are also settings… that allow other computers near you…

near you as “in your city and surrounding areas”…

To collect parts of updates from your computer in order to self update…

thanks to you and the hard earned cash you forked out for your data bundles.

In any case… the point is that I want to help you control some of this stuff…

In case you’d like to keep your privacy…well…Private!

Ok, enough Yaba Yaba…you get to the point!

The first thing you want to do is click in the search bar next to the windows start button (bottom left of the screen)…and type in “Privacy”…

The search window will expand and you should see “Privacy Settings” highlighted.

If it’s not, then click on the windows start button and in the far left you will see the “Gear” symbol…

and if you mouse over it…it will show that it’s the “settings tab”…

Click the Gear  Symbol…

The settings window will pop up… scroll down to the bottom and look for the “Privacy” button accompanied by a lock symbol.

Click on this button…

The very first Tab is…

General – Change Privacy Options

On this page you going to see four settings that you can switch on or off as follows;

“Let’s Apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity (turning this off will reset your ID)”

Ok… so now we know that we are part of a database and we have an Advertising ID. Nothing too alarming but let’s see what Microsoft has to say about that…

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4459081/windows-10-general-privacy-settings

“Windows generates a unique advertising ID for each user on a device, which app developers and advertising networks can then use for their own purposes, including providing more relevant advertising in apps.”

When the advertising ID is enabled, apps can access and use it in much the same way that websites can access and use a unique identifier stored in a cookie.

Thus, app developers (and the advertising networks they work with) can associate personal data they collect about you with your advertising ID and use that personal data to provide more relevant advertising and other personalized experiences across their apps.”

So…in the statement above they tell us that they will give us a unique advertising ID…

which they sell to developers and advertising agencies…

“who collect data from/about you for their own purposes…”

My recommendation…

If you have any concerns at all… then switch this off.

“Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list”

There seems to be a bit of confusion around this topic…

My understanding is that some websites have the ability to display their content in various languages…

And this setting would allow the website to automatically display its content in a language of your preference…

Provided, of course, that it has a copy of the content in that language.

Google already has great options to handle these issues…

So my recommendation is…

Unless you need this option, switch it off!

“Let Windows track app launches to improve start and search results”

This option allows windows to personalize your Start Menu based on the apps that you frequently use…

and allows quick access to your most used apps…

this is a benefit to us all…

My recommendation…

Leave that button on.

“Show me suggested content in the Settings app”

According to Microsoft… this setting offers you suggestions in a variety of forms…

and helps you discover new features, or suggests new content that you may find interesting…

My Recommendation

Leave that button on.

Moving on to the next tab…

Speech – Online Speech Recognition

Use you voice for dictation and to speak to Cortana and other apps that use Microsoft Cloud Based Speech recognition…

Well… this is pretty self explanatory…

if you need or use Cortana for any reason…

and you like banting with your personal computer, then leave this setting on.

Now according to the Microsoft website…

“when you use the Microsoft cloud-based speech recognition services…

Microsoft collects and uses your voice recordings to create a text transcript of spoken words in the voice data…”

Personally…this is not something I would want out there…

Just in case I say something…that I might regret later…

My Recommendation

Switch this setting to off, unless you absolutely must have it.

Next Up…

Inking and typing personalization

“Use your typing history and handwriting patterns to create a local user dictionary that makes better suggestions for you.”

This setting is used to create a local user dictionary…

to provide you with better typing and writing suggestions… for each of the languages that you use.

This is a handy setting…

My Recommendation

Leave this button on.

The following tab…

Diagnostics and Feedback – Diagnostic Data

“Choose how much diagnostic data you want to send to Microsoft…”

Here we have a choice of “Basic” and “Full”

Keep in mind that everytime you send data to Microsoft...

you’re the one footing the bill for that data… through your internet provider.

Let’s take a look at what this tab says…

Basic – Send only info about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it’s performing properly.”

Full – Send all basic diagnostic data, along with info about websites you browse and how you use apps and features, plus extra info about device health, device activity, and enhanced error reporting.”

Ok, let me give you a brief background on this diagnostic data issue…

According to Jerry Berg, who worked at Microsoft as a Software Developer for about 15 years…

Microsoft used to have a Windows Testing department…

which he was a part of…

and they would test all new developments of the windows operating systems environment…

to find and report issues, so that improvements could be made before being rolled out into the real world.

However, In 2014…

Microsoft decided to do away with this department…

and began to focus on collecting data from it’s users to sell to Marketing and Advertising agencies.

It just so happened that he (Jerry) was part of the group that had been laid off…

and claims that the Windows 10 operating system now relies on the user…

to provide details on issues that develop within the Operating System.

It therefore stands to reason that Microsoft…

will want to have the “full” diagnostic data…

set to default…

so that YOU provide Microsoft with the relevant data… on what’s happening with your computer.

So in this case… since we don’t know what extra data Microsoft is collecting… through these data dumps and logs…

I recommend leaving the settings on Basic.

Improve Inking and Typing

You’ll notice that if you choose the basic option above… then the inking and typing will switch off.

Now that’s interesting…

since when we discussed Inking and Typing above… Microsoft claimed that this feature was designed to create a “local user dictionary”…

The relevant question now becomes…

why would they be collecting data from this local dictionary?..

and what does it have to do with Diagnostics and Feedback?

Is Jerry Berg right…

about us being cautious with our privacy settings…

and the data we’re handing over to Microsoft?

I’ll let you decide!

Just below that we have…

Tailored Experiences

“Let Microsoft offer you Tailored Experiences based on the diagnostic data settings you have chosen. Tailored experiences are personalized tips, ads and recommendations that enhance Microsoft Products and services for your needs.”

here we have to ask ourselves…

Why do we have this title under diagnostic data?

It’s as though this has been hidden in this section…

because it makes sense that we would want to send off as much data as possible to Microsoft…

to allow them to fix our windows bugs…

and thus we wouldn’t intuitively look in this section to make any adjustments.

Forgive me for saying… but this feels a little sneaky to me.

My Recommendation

That one should get turned off for sure.

Next up we have…

View Diagnostic Data

“Turn on this setting to view your data in the Diagnostic Data Viewer. (Settings uses up to 1GB of hard drive space)”

Here we have it folks…

Your diagnostic data uploading to Microsoft may take up to 1 GB of hard drive space.

Considering how expensive our data bundles are here in Zimbabwe…

that’s a large chunk of data that we’re sending off to Microsoft…

and if you look a little further down the page…

we have the frequency settings under the title Feedback Frequency.

Here you’ll find that this setting is set to automatic…

which I can only assume would be several times a day…

Since the others options include… always, once a day, once a week and never.

Now consider up to 1 GB of data being perpetually sent off to the Microsoft Cloud…

Now…ask yourself how often you’re topping up your data package, is there a possibility that it’s related?

So as for the View diagnostic data…this is a no brainer.

My Recommendation…

Switch this off!

And the feedback frequency…

My Recommendation…

Set to once a week…because we want Microsoft to fix our issues.

Just above the FeedBack Frequency, we have…

Delete Diagnostic Data

“Hit the delete button if you would like Microsoft to delete this data that they may have collected from you…”

You’ll notice that just below the delete button…

Microsoft have written…

“Once you choose to delete your data, we’ll start the process of deleting copies from our systems. If you have a Microsoft Account, you might have additional diagnostic data that you can delete on the privacy dashboard.”

Finally under the subheading…

Recommended Troubleshooting

“Microsoft automatically fixes certain critical problems on your device to keep it running smoothly. We may also recommend troubleshooting for other problems we think will improve your experience. How much do you want Microsoft to help when we find other issues that we might be able to fix?”

My Recommendation…

Set this to “ask me before fixing problems”

Next we’re onto the…

Activity History Tab

In this section, you have two choices to make…

  1. Store my activity history on this device…
  2. Send my activity history to Microsoft

In this case…

I would like to maintain a copy of my activity history on the device itself…

but I don’t want Microsoft to have a copy of my activity history…

My Recommendation

Untick the second option – “Send my activity history to Microsoft.”

I have left everything below “Show activity for these accounts”…

to their defaults as this is self explanatory.

Under the next tab we move onto…

Location

“Allow access to your location on this device”

“If you allow access, you will allow windows to use your device’s capabilities to determine your location data to improve location services…”

The whole location page is about Microsoft collecting data around where you travel…

and if you look at the bottom of the page… below the apps… you’ll notice the word “Geofencing.”

Now let me explain what Geofencing is…

Let’s say that you own a Company that sells flowers…a florist.

So… now imagine that you know that there is a certain mortuary in one location… a hospital in another location… and a restaurant specializing in romantic dinners in a third location.

You could make use of Geofencing…

To mark out… each of these specific areas…

for the purposes of your marketing and advertising campaigns.

Then… every time someone goes into one of these three areas…

and they have apps that responded to Geofencing…

then… your adverts would automatically be shown to these people…

and this is important to you as business because the likelihood of them wanting to purchase flowers would be very high…

And therefore… this would be a great benefit to you.

Thanks Microsoft, that’s very handy…

Can you blame Microsoft for wanting to get a share of this market?

It makes perfect sense…

and your mobile device is already setup to trigger Geofencing wherever you may go.

It’s a lucrative industry.

But for our purposes…and because most people don’t really move around that much with their laptops anymore…

and certainly not their desktops…

Then it’s a complete waste of bandwidth.

My Recommendation

Switch off everything on this page, including the apps.

Next up…

Camera

“Allow access to the camera on this device”

“If you allow access, people using this device will be able to choose if their apps have camera access by using the settings on this page. Denying access blocks Microsoft Store apps and most desktop apps from accessing the camera. It does not block windows hello!”

(For those of you who would like to know what Windows Hello! Is…

Windows Hello! Is a more secure way of accessing your windows devices through fingerprint and facial recognition technologies that Microsoft has developed).

If you’re on a desktop and you don’t have a camera attached…

then chances are that all of the settings on this page will be disabled…

but… if you have a laptop, notebook or tablet with windows 10, then these settings will be active.

Now, there is a lot of debate around this topic, so I will leave it up to you to decide…

According to many… the camera on any device is one of the biggest security risks against You as a private individual.

The argument is that the camera… together with the microphone…

Are used by certain organizations around the world…

to take snap shots of your environment as a way of spying or collecting data.

Now, this argument does have merit and chances are, this is most likely happening…

But I will leave that up to you to decide.

My Recommendations

Camera Access for this device – on

Allow Apps to Access this Camera – on

Apps – all off except skype / whatsapp / any app you might need.

Allow desktop apps to access your camera – on

If for some reason, you don’t need the camera at all…

then switch it all off.

And if you want to make sure nobody gets a snapshot, then place some tape over your camera.

Next up…

Microphone

The odd thing about the microphone that nobody seems to think about…

is that…

if… for some reason you have some pretty dubious people spying on your every move…

then… chances are they going to get you on the microphone.

There already is plenty of technology that can predict whether a voice belongs to the particular person…

and if you want to make the argument on voice…

then every time you make a call on either a landline telephone or a mobile device…

then you’ve pretty much given your game away…if that is a concern that you might have.

Anyway…

for the sake of this post…

let’s assume you want to control your microphone as best you can…

but… you’d still like to make use of it with skype and your desktop whatsapp application.

Here’s my recommendation

Microphone access for this device is – on

Allow apps to access you microphone – on

Apps – all off except skype / whatsapp / any app you might need.

Allow desktop apps to access your microphone – on

Next up…

Voice Activation

“Choose whether apps can listen for a voice keyword and then continue listening to the microphone after a keyword is detected. If microphone access is turned off, these settings will be unavailable.”

I’m not particularly paranoid about this stuff, but this one does make my spine quiver…

Just a little…

And that’s because this means windows 10 is actively listening for voice commands…

which means that it’s ALWAYS on.

Now this is designed to work with apps like Cortana…

and be aware that having Cortana listening in for an activation keyword…

could lead to abuse… in the event that your computer is infected with malware that makes use of the technology.

If you do not make use of Cortana in this way… or any other technology like this…

then here’s my recommendations.

Microphone access for this device is – on

Allow apps to use voice activation – off

Allow apps to use voice activation when this device is locked – off

Notifications

I wouldn’t recommend tampering with these settings because you need to be aware of what is going on with your computer and therefore notifications are a good thing…

My recommendation

Leave this page as is

Account Information

“This tab allows the apps that come windows 10 to access your account information.”

I’m sure some of you make use of these apps, but if you don’t then go to “Choose which apps can access my account info”

I don’t use any of these modern apps so I’m going to go ahead and switch off all the apps.

My recommendation

Switch off all apps that you don’t need

Next up…

Contacts

Now again… like under account information…

if you don’t use these modern apps that come with windows 10, then go ahead and disable whatever you’re not using.

My recommendation

Switch off all apps that you don’t need

Up Next…

Calendar, Phone Calls, Call History, Email, tasks, messaging, Radios…

Same as above… go to the apps section and disable all the modern apps that you don’t need.

Other Devices

Unless you’re connecting via bluetooth… to your phone or bluetooth speakers…

you can go ahead and switch off “Communicate with unpaired devices”

App Diagnostics and Automatic File Downloads

Leave these sections…

as they’re required to repair any issues with your apps / Download updates etc.

Documents

Switch off all apps except for App Installer and Windows Security

Pictures and Videos

Switch off any unnecessary apps

File System

Leave as is.

So…now most of you would be satisfied at this point that you have taken back some control of your windows 10 computer…

And I would not recommend that you go any further.

However, I did say at the beginning of this post that I would give you ALL the information…and I’m sure there are a few who are not satisfied and want to take back full control. This is for you…

Now be advised that…again…you do this at your own risk!

if you’re not confident in your abilities to manage windows 10…

then… please ask your computer administrator to do this for you.

Shutup10

(Yes…that’s what this software is called!)

You’ll notice when you download this software onto your computer…and you run the app…

That you have barely even scratched the surface where privacy is concerned…

but remember that the more we tamper with these settings, the higher the chance that we’re going to break something.

For instance, when I created this post…

I went through every setting and I ran this program…

and the result was that despite all this… windows 10 reset one the settings back after the reboot…

and I also found that I had lost quite a bit of performance on my pc.

You also need to be aware… that after your next windows update…

you’re most likely going to find some settings have been restored automatically…

so it might become a bit of a cat and mouse situation.

I’ve done the whole conspiracy theory thing and after months of wasting my own time…

I came to the conclusion that nobody is stopping you from getting on with your own life and neither is Microsoft…

So let’s go ahead…

Please follow this link – https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10

And download the software on the page called “Shutup10”.

Run the software and wait for the app window to pop up.

When the app loads, you will notice that there are several recommendations that the software makes over and above everything you have just done…

Which shows… you’ve hardly even scratched the surface…

Be careful not to mess with the settings marked with the caution and not recommended…

although the software won’t stop you if you choose to go ahead.

I don’t recommend that go beyond the recommended settings that this app offers…

Before you do anything else…

let’s make sure that we create a restore point… just in case… something negative happens.

Click on Actions Tab and click “Create a Restore Point”…

A window will pop up to confirm that it can go ahead and create the restore point… click yes.

Once the restore point has been created… we are now ready to do the final task.

Go to the Actions Tab and click on “Apply only recommended settings”…

And once the app has completed the task…

You’re done.

Reboot the computer.

If for any reason, your computer starts misbehaving…

then restart the app, click the Actions Tab and click on “Undo all changes.”

And that’s it…

I want to thank you for the time you have taken to read this article…

I hope it has been helpful to you.

Please feel free to contact me via phone or direct message…

and remember… if you like what you see and you’d like us to take care of these things for you, we’d be happy to help you. You can call or direct message on 0782 004 522.

Enjoy the rest of your week

Regards

Vitor M.