Windows 10 is one of the most picked Operating Systems till date, courtesy of its dynamic design, smooth user interface, and a myriad of promising features it offers. While most of Windows 10 features are widely appreciated by users, the operating system has some settings that violate or threaten your privacy. That’s why it’s very important to know how to strengthen your privacy in Windows 10 and secure your device.
Sensing this need, we have arrived with a list of 15 best Windows 10 tips to take control your privacy. In this post, we’ll discuss all the tips one by one. Be prepared to learn how to reclaim your privacy in Windows 10:
Strengthen your privacy in Windows 10 with simple methods
1. Turn OFF ads
You may have come across different ads displayed on your apps and WebPages. These ads are displayed with the help of cookie spies that secretly keep track of your activities and show irrelevant ads to you. Not only these ads look annoying, they ask risk your privacy. So, it’s better to disable them.
Luckily it’s possible to disable these annoying ads. You just need to follow a series of simple steps mentioned below:
Step 1. First of all, click on the Start button
Step 2. Go to Settings > Privacy > General > Change privacy options
Step 3. Here, you’ll see an option called Let apps use my advertising ID for experience across apps. The option is enabled by default. Just turn it OFF
2. Opt out of personalized ads
Microsoft assigns a unique advertising ID to each user. This ID tracks your online activities and helps advertisers decide what ads should be displayed to you. These ads can be annoying but you can decide to opt out of personalized ads to improve your privacy. Here’s how to do so:
Step 1. Open the following link on your web browser:
Step 2. Here you’ll see two options namely
- Personalized ads in this browser
- Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account
Turn OFF both the options
Important Note: Make sure to disable cookies and turn OFF ad blocker, otherwise the method will not work.
3. Disable Cortana taskbar search
In order to enhance usage experience with more suitable suggestions and search results, Cortana gathers a lot of useful information on the cloud. You can choose to disable Cortana taskbar search if you don’t want the digital assistant to store your personal information on the cloud.
Here’s how to do so:
Step 1. First of all, launch the Cortana app on Windows 10 OS
Step 2. Go to the Settings section and toggle OFF all the options featured in it
4. Manage what Cortana knows
You can also select what type of personal information you want Cortana to store on the Cloud. For this, just follow a series of simple instructions mentioned below:
Step 1. Launch Cortana app on your Windows 10 PC
Step 2. Go to the Settings section and then click on Change what Cortana knows about me in the Cloud option
Step 3. Scroll down until you find the Clear button. Just click on it
Step 4. In the next step, click on the Notebook icon in Cortana’s window to enter in the Permissions section
Step 5. Click on Manage everything Cortana can see and use option and turn off the following options:
- Browsing history
- Contacts, email, calendar, and communication history
Step 6. Now, click on Speech, inking, & typing privacy settings
Step 7. A new window will appear in front of you, displaying a section labeled Getting to know you. Just click on Stop getting to know me option below it
5. Disable Wi–Fi Sense
Wi-Fi Sense feature was initially designed to allow you share network passwords with friends and peers. Now the password sharing feature has been disabled and its current function is to suggest open Wi-Fi hotspots within your range and connect to them.
You can disable the feature anything for stronger security:
- Click on the Start button
- Navigate to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi
- Disable Connect to suggested open hotspots option under the Wi-Fi Sense section
6. Disable OneDrive Sync
Windows 10 comes with Microsoft One Drive preinstalled. While the cloud storage service allows you to easily store and share media files online, it also backs up your personal data to the cloud.
You can disable the service if you don’t want to use the service as your primary cloud storage.
In order to do so, you’ll need to follow the following instructions:
Step 1. Click on the up-facing arrow present on the right side in the system tray
Step 2. Right click the OneDrive app icon
Step 3. Select Settings
Step 4. In the Settings section of OneDrive app, you’ll see two options namely
- Start OneDrive automatically when I sign in to Windows
- Let me use OneDrive to fetch any of the files on this PC
Disable both of them!
Step 5. Click OK to save your settings
7. Manage Privacy options
There are several features on Windows 10 that secretly transfer data like your online activities and app usage to Microsoft. You can disable them anything to add an extra layer to your security.
Here’s how to do so:
Step 1. Click on the Start button and navigate to Settings > Privacy > General
Step 2. Here you’ll see a section labeled Change privacy options under which you’ll see various options related to your privacy.
Out of these, disable the following two options:
- Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future
- Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list
Step 3. Disable all listed like Camera, location, Microphone, Contacts, etc.
8. Configure Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge also has some data gathering features that collect your personal data to enhance your web browsing experience. While these features help you browse faster, they can also invade your privacy indirectly. So, it’s better to disable them especially if Microsoft Edge isn’t your primary browser.
Here are the steps to configure Microsoft Edge:
Step 1. Open Microsoft Edge web browser
Step 2. Go to Settings > View Advanced Settings
Step 3. In the new window that appears in front of you, disable Use Adobe Flash Player
Step 4. Disable the following options under Privacy and services section:
- Offer to save passwords
- Save form entries
- Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge
- Show search suggestions as I type
- Use page prediction to speed up browsing, improve reading, and make my overall experience better
- Help protect me from malicious sites and downloads with SmartScreen filter
9. Disable SmartScreen filters
Courtesy of active SmartScreen filters in Windows 10, Microsoft receives information about your every activity, i.e. the URLs you visit and the apps you install. While this comes handy in blocking suspicious websites and apps by analyzing them, your personal data is transmitted to the company’s servers. This may not go well with your privacy.
You can choose to disable these SmartScreen filters to strengthen your privacy in Windows 10. Here’s how to do so:
Step 1. Right-click on the Start button and then Go to Control Panel
Step 2. Set View by option to Category on the top-right corner
Step 3. Go to System and Security > Security and Maintainance
Step 4. Click on the Change Windows SmartScreen settings option on the left panel
Step 5. Select Don’t do anything (turn off Windows SmartScreen) option that’ll appear in front of you
Step 6. In the next step, go to Settings > Privacy > General
Step 7. Disable Turn on SmartScreen Filter to check web content (URLs) that Windows Store apps use under the Change Privacy Options section
10. Disable Windows 10 Sync
You can also disable Windows 10 sync if you don’t want your personal data to be transferred to the cloud. In order to so, follow these steps:
Step 1. Open Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings
Step 2. Turn Off Sync Settings option
Note: You can also turn off the settings individually under Individual sync settings section
Read More about Windows 10: 5 best Windows 10 tools to get your work done
11. Switch to a local account
Your Microsoft account acts as a standard key to automatically log into your apps and synchronize your data across multiple devices. However, it also stores your personal data on the cloud. This means apps can see your personal data and keep track of your activities.
You can switch to a local account if you are concerned about your privacy. Here’s how to do so:
Step 1. Go to Settings > Accounts > Your Info
Step 2. Click on Sign in with a local account instead option
Step 3. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your local account
12. Turn off Location permission
Location permission allows apps and services to track your real-time location. You can disable the feature if you’re not comfortable with sharing your location online. In order to do so, follow the below-mentioned instructions:
Step 1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location
Step 2. Under the Location Section, click on the Change button and then toggle off Location service
Step 3. Click on the Clear button under Location History
13. Disable Feedback and Diagnostics
In order to resolve performance related issues, Windows sends some diagnostic data to Microsoft servers. The data includes details about apps, your activities, memory snapshots, etc.
You can choose to disable the feature if you’re not comfortable with sharing your data to the company’s servers. Just follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Click on the Start button
Step 2. Go to Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics
Step 3. Set Feedback frequency option to Never
Step 4. Set Diagnostic and usage data option to Basic
14. Configure Windows Update
You can also configure Windows update to strengthen your privacy in Windows 10. Here’s how to do so:
Step 1. Click on the Start button
Step 2. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update
Step 3. Click on Advanced options under the Update Settings section
Step 4. Select Choose how updates are delivered option in the new window that appears in front of you
Step 5. Select the radio button next to PCs on my local network option. After this, turn off the button above the radio button named Off
15. Try out Spybot’s Anti-Beacon
You can also try Spybot’s Anti-Beacon to add an extra layer of security to your Windows 10 PC. The utility blocks unwanted data tracking features of Windows 10 and ensures that no critical information is sent to Microsoft servers without your consent.
Here’s how you can activate Spybot’s Anti-Beacon feature to secure your PC:
Step 1. Download and Install Spybot’s Anti-Beacon software on your PC
Steps 2. Launch the program
Step 3. Click on the Immunize button on the main screen
That’s all we have in our list of 15 best ways to strengthen your privacy on Windows 10. Most of the above-mentioned tips will deeply affect the performance of the operating system and restrict some of the features. However, you must remember that your privacy and security comes as your primary concern. So, if you want ultimate Windows 10 privacy options, don’t think much and turn OFF the features you don’t need.
Stay tuned for more updates!