Re­claim your Win­dows pri­vacy

APC Australia - - Super Guide » How To Stay Private In Windows 10 -

1 AD PERSONALISATION

Per­son­alised ads are a form of tar­geted mar­ket­ing that com­pa­nies use on­line. When you visit a web­site for the first time, a ‘cookie’ is down­loaded to your PC — a small text file of view­ing data that the site uses if you ever re­turn, so that it can tai­lor the ads you see. Hap­pily, Win­dows 10 makes ad­ver­tis­ing personalisation op­tional by in­te­grat­ing it into its pri­vacy set­tings.

2 DIS­ABLE ADS IN WIN­DOWS

Dis­abling per­son­alised ads in Win­dows 10 is a two-step process. First, go to Set­tings then nav­i­gate to the Pri­vacy > Gen­eral panel via the left-hand col­umn and slide off the but­ton next to the op­tion ‘Al­low apps to use Ad­ver­tis­ing ID to make ads more in­ter­est­ing to you based on your app us­age (turn­ing this off will re­set your ID)’.

3 DIS­ABLE ADS ON­LINE

This step has to be car­ried out on­line, so open the Mi­crosoft Edge web browser, type choice.mi­crosoft.com/en-us/opt-out into the ad­dress bar and hit En­ter. On the page that ap­pears, select the Off but­tons in the box un­der ‘In­ter­est-based ads: Mi­crosoft ac­count’ and the box next to ‘In­ter­est-based ads: This browser’.

4 TURN OFF AC­TIV­ITY HIS­TORY

Win­dows now keeps track of when and how you use your com­puter by de­fault. This run­ning time­line is used by Mi­crosoft’s AI to find pat­terns in your us­age and does the­o­ret­i­cally do some use­ful things, like sched­ul­ing up­dates at con­ve­nient times. This track­ing can be op­tion­ally unchecked in the ‘Ac­tiv­ity his­tory’ sec­tion.

5 MIN­IMISE DIAGNOSTICS AND FEED­BACK

While Mi­crosoft makes it seem like your data helps fix bugs, the ‘di­ag­nos­tic feed­back’ that you’re vol­un­teer­ing is of­ten more than just what’s re­quired to im­prove an ap­pli­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion to di­ag­nos­tic data if you select ‘Full feed­back’ then “info about the web­sites you browse and how you use apps and fea­tures” is also sent to Mi­crosoft. Switch the slider to Ba­sic to avoid this.

6 SPEECH, INKING AND TYP­ING

You can give Mi­crosoft ac­cess to the mi­cro­phone, key­board and writ­ing box so it can learn your lan­guage pat­terns to pre­dict what you might want to say. If, how­ever, you have no need for Cor­tana and/or you don’t think pre­dic­tive aut­ofill fea­tures war­rant ac­cess to your typ­ing, then you can turn th­ese fea­tures off in the ‘Speech, inking and typ­ing’ sec­tion of the Win­dows pri­vacy set­tings.

7 COR­TANA DATA GATHER­ING

Cor­tana is Mi­crosoft’s dig­i­tal per­sonal as­sis­tant built into Win­dows 10. It’s a use­ful fea­ture that lets you cre­ate cal­en­dar events, send email, set up re­minders plus a range of other ac­tions. But to per­form th­ese du­ties it has to col­lect your data. If you’ve never used Cor­tana, then you have noth­ing to do, but if you do and you could live with­out it, here’s how to turn it off.

8 GOOD­BYE COR­TANA

Click the Cor­tana icon in the taskbar and then select the note­book icon on the left side of the menu. Choose Per­mis­sions. At the top is a slider for an op­tion to let Cor­tana col­lect and use your lo­ca­tion for more ac­cu­rate searches; turn it off. Click on the Set­tings icon on the left side and there are fur­ther op­tions to change or delete any in­for­ma­tion Cor­tana may have gath­ered.

9 BING SEARCH

Bing is Mi­crosoft’s an­swer to Google. It also col­lects data on your on­line ac­tiv­i­ties, which then feeds into Cor­tana and other Win­dows 10 ser­vices. To turn it off, open Set­tings and go to ‘Cor­tana > Speech and his­tory’. Click the op­tion to ‘Clear my de­vice his­tory’. You can also then turn off ‘My de­vice his­tory’ and ‘My cloud search’ to pre­vent Bing from con­tin­u­ing to log your searches.

10 US­ING A LO­CAL AC­COUNT

Us­ing a lo­cal ac­count in Win­dows 10 is a pri­vacy-savvy way of lim­it­ing the sys­tem’s ac­cess to the cloud. To set one up, go to ‘Set­tings > Ac­counts > Your ac­count’, select the op­tion to ‘Sign in with a lo­cal ac­count in­stead’ and fol­low the wizard. Bear in mind that you’ll lose ac­cess to any Win­dows fea­tures that are tied to your on­line Mi­crosoft ac­count, such as Win­dows Store.

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