Microsoft really has gotten a lot right with Windows 10, but like any operating system, it’s not without its flaws. One of the biggest criticisms Microsoft received on Windows 10 (not including the forced updates) concerns your privacy. Windows 10 sends a massive amount of data to Microsoft, and this doesn’t sit too well with many privacy advocates.
According to Microsoft, all the data it collects has had any personal information removed before it is sent to them, and they use this data to improve Windows 10. But, many privacy advocates still have their concerns, and honestly we don’t really know what data they receive, as Windows doesn’t really tell us. But, if you are wondering what their official position is, you can find the full privacy statements here.
According to their official Privacy Statement, “Microsoft collects data to operate effectively and provide you the best experiences with our products. You provide some of this data directly, such as when you create a Microsoft account, administer your organisation’s licensing account, submit a search query to Bing, register for a Microsoft event, speak a voice command to Cortana, upload a document to OneDrive, purchase an MSDN subscription, sign up for Office 365 or contact us for support. We get some of it by recording how you interact with our products by, for example, using technologies like cookies, and receiving error reports or usage data from software running on your device. We also obtain data from third parties.”
If their data collection methods and policies still bother you, you can limit what they collect and even disable the data collection altogether. Let’s look at how you accomplish each one.
Limit Data Collection
First, let’s look at what you can do to limit how much information gets sent to Microsoft. In this scenario, you will still be sending very basic information to Microsoft that could help them with Windows 10, but far less than they really want.
1. Click on Start – Settings (Cog icon).
2. Click on Privacy.
3. Select Feedback & Diagnostics from the list on the left side of the window.
4. First, turn off the setting labeled, “Let Microsoft provide more tailored experiences with relevant tips and recommendations by using your diagnostic data.”
5. Second, switch the data collection settings from “Full” to “Basic.”
Disable Data Collection
If switching these settings isn’t enough for you, or you don’t want Microsoft to collect anything about your usage of Windows, you can disable it. Unfortunately, there is no setting that will allow you to disable it. Instead, you must edit the Windows Registry to disable it once and for all. Remember, messing around the Registry can cause all sorts of problems if you don’t do it right, so be very careful when you are editing and creating entries in the Windows Registry.
1. Right-click on Start and select Run.
2. Type regedit.exe in the space provided and press enter.
3. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\DataCollection.
4. Create a new value with the following properties:
- Type: 32-bit DWORD
- Name: AllowTelemetry
- Value: 0
5. After you have added your new entry, exit the registry. You may want to go ahead and reboot your computer for good measure, although the changes should show up right away.
Should You Even Bother?
This is a common question. Many users ask me why they should even worry about it anymore. The fact is most of us have just accepted that are data will be collected and we find it a pain to try and safeguard it every minute of every day. Trust me, I understand. I think I even fall into this category.
However, protecting yourself is always a good idea, and does Microsoft really need to see what you are doing and what you are using on your computer? I think not. Sure, other companies are doing the same thing, but at least Microsoft has made it reasonably easy to put a stop to it, and that’s more that I can say for other companies. Yes, I’m looking at you Google. Still, I wouldn’t give any company anymore than you want, and if you want to limit what Microsoft collects on you, by all means use this guide to safeguard your personal data.
The fact is in today’s world it’s more difficult than it has ever been to keep your data safe. Microsoft isn’t the only big tech company that is collecting data on you. Google, Facebook, Apple and many more tech companies are constantly tracking what you do and where you go. As unsettling as that may sound, it is a fact of modern life. While there are a few things you can do to limit this tracking, in many cases there is not much you can do, outside of just avoiding those services completely. How many of us do that? Personally I know very few.
Because of this fact it is a little surprising that Microsoft has received so much criticism about the data they collect. After all, there are other companies that are capturing far more about is than they. Still, it’s nice to know that there is a way to limit or even eliminate the possibility of Microsoft collecting data while you are using Windows 10.
Have you tried to limit what Windows 10 sends to Microsoft? If so, do you feel better about using your system now that you did it or do you not care what information they collect from you? Tell me what you think in the comments below.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.