Windows 10 isn't great when it comes to personal privacy. But by turning off the right settings, you can make it better.
Credit: ShutterstockMalicious threats from hackers aside, privacy is a big topic since tech companies seem to be consistently testing the waters to see how much information they can gather about you. If tech vendors can provide a more personalized computing experience, we naturally consider this is a good thing. However, some vendors may go too far.
Microsoft, for instance, seems to have hit a nerve with Windows 10 and the way it handles a lot of privacy issues. But you can increase your personal privacy with Windows 10, if you opt out of some "personalization" operating system features. By increased privacy, I mean you'd rather not send Microsoft (or anyone else) anything that might describe your personal activities. This includes web browsing activity, location, etc.
Note: To ensure each setting that might lower your privacy is disabled, I recommend disabling every setting that you might even think is a privacy risk and then testing to see if this change has affected your user experience negatively.
The Privacy Settings Pane
The first place to check for settings to increase privacy is the privacy section in System Settings found by just typing in 'privacy' in the Cortana search bar.
This is where the huge majority of configurable settings can be found. Many of these settings are self-explanatory although some are not. Instead of thoroughly researching each one, I disabled everything I could and then looked for anything that was actually broken. This method ensures you have disabled any process phoning home rather than guessing.
Web sites love to track where you've been and where you're going to intelligently place ads and "improve the user experience." Here are a few tweaks you can do to Microsoft Edge to ensure tracking is disabled.
These settings are buried in the 'Advanced Settings' window under the Settings menu in Edge. To get to these, click on the dots in the upper-right corner of the Edge window and scroll down until you see the 'View advanced settings' button.
Here you'll find a few settings to disable that prevent sites from tracking your web browsing activity.
I recommend enabling 'Send Do Not Track Requests,' 'Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge' and 'Show search and site suggestions as I type.' Each of these options requires Edge to track various data about your web browsing habits.
The 'Send Do Not Track Requests' options is probably the most important. This requests that no websites track you. However, unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean they will, but it's all you can do as a consumer.
For even more ideas on increasing your privacy in Windows 10, checkout our sister site, Tom's Hardware.