Got Windows 10? Do These 5 Things NOW...

Category: Windows-10

Microsoft’s new operating system brings back old Windows 7 favorites like the Start menu, and dispenses with most of the things people hated about Windows 8/8.1. Even better, Win 10 runs faster than previous versions, enough to make a five year-old PC perform better than it did when new. But there are some privacy concerns. Read on to learn how to tweak your settings to maximize privacy...

Five Windows 10 Privacy Issues

I’m glad I upgraded my old laptop to Windows 10. (For details, see How to Get Windows 10 Right Now.) But privacy is a big concern with Windows 10. If you allow Windows 10 to upgrade your existing system automatically – as many people will – it will enable many default settings that you may not want enabled.

After running Win 10 for a few days, I’ve discovered five privacy-related features you may want to tweak or disable. Here they are...

Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO) is a peer-to-peer file distribution server, like a Bittorrent client, built right into Win 10. WUDO doesn’t just speed up delivery of Windows updates to you. Instead, pieces of the Win 10 installation and update files on your machine and/or local network may be distributed to other Win 10 users who need them.
Windows 10 Privacy settings

Instead of investing in a global content-delivery system, Microsoft is using YOUR upload bandwidth to distribute its product! There's no evidence that WUDO is a threat to your privacy or security, it's just a bit icky. And who knows if it might not be subverted by Evil Hackers tomorrow?

If you have a fast Internet connection (especially the upload speed), you're a trusting soul, and you don't mind facilitating the distribution of Windows 10 to your friends and neighbors, do nothing. But if you prefer to disable WUDO, follow these steps:

  • Open the Start Menu
  • Click or tap “Settings”
  • Select "Update & security"
  • In the left-side pane, select “Windows Update”
  • In the right-side pane, select “Advanced options”
  • In the new right-side pane that opens, select “Choose how updates are delivered”
  • Move the slider control under “Updates from more than one place” to “OFF”

WiFi Sense is a Win 10 (and Windows Phone) feature that I think is nonsense. It lets your contacts, Facebook “friends,” and Skype contacts share your WiFi network without knowing the network key. You get access to their WiFi networks, too. But I don’t want share my WiFi with all of those contacts, and WiFi Sense does not permit discrimination at the individual level. Also, if some of your contacts have your network key and use WiFi Sense, you may get total strangers using your WiFi.

Fortunately, this feature is also optional. To learn more about WiFi Sense, and for instructions on how to disable it, see my article Is Windows 10 WiFi Sense Nonsense?

Should you opt out of personalized ads? This one is tricky. With ad personalization turned on, Microsoft will try to show you the ads that are chosen "based on the sites that you visit, your online searches and more." Some find this useful, and some find it creepy, when they see ads for products directly related to web pages they've recently browsed. Turning off ad personalization won't turn off ads, but it will ensure that the ads you see are completely unrelated to your interests. Again, Microsoft makes it easy to turn it off; just visit this link and toggle tracking “off" in your browser and on your Microsoft account, if you ever use one.

But don’t think that ends the collection of data about your online or even offline activities. Consider what’s in the privacy policy linked at the bottom of the page:

“Microsoft collects data to operate effectively and provide you the best experiences with our services. You provide some of this data directly, such as when you create a Microsoft account, submit a search query to Bing, speak a voice command to Cortana, upload a document to OneDrive, or contact us for support. We get some of it by recording how you interact with our services 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 (including other companies).”

Cortana is a personal assistant built into Windows 10. Its ability to respond to voice commands is similar to Siri on the iPhone, or the "OK Google" feature on Android phones. Some pundits believe that Cortana is the omnipresent, silent observer of everything you do, online or offline, reporting it back to Microsoft. I'm not so sure about that. But to disable Cortana and end the collection of data through it, type “cortana” in the search box and click on the first link in the search results (system settings). Then slide the off/on switch to “OFF".

Last but not least, wade through the 13 pages (yes, thirteen!) of Privacy Settings and turn off whatever seems appropriate. Type “privacy settings” in the search box to find the link to that system settings page.

It’s a bit tedious to batten down the privacy hatches in Windows 10. But at least Microsoft makes it possible to do so. And remember, this isn't just an issue with Microsoft. Most of the snooping (and perhaps more) that Windows 10 does is also done by Google and Facebook.

Google recently implemented a Security and Privacy Dashboard that makes it fairly easy to understand and manage the related settings. But Facebook gives you few privacy controls, and obscures their privacy and data collection policies in a collection of documents containing over 20,000 words.

Don't get me wrong on Windows 10. For the most part, I'm very pleasantly surprised at how well the folks in Redmond reponded to the many (well deserved) criticisms of Windows 8. Win 10 is a huge improvement in usability, and will probably speed up your computing. But information is power, and it's better to have that power in your hands. Take a few minutes to review and tweak your Windows 10 privacy settings.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Got Windows 10? Do These 5 Things NOW..."

(See all 42 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

06 Aug 2015

You are THE MAN!!! Thank You, I didn't even realize I was allowing so much access!!!

Posted by:

06 Aug 2015

It took me three tries and almost nine hours to get W10 to download and install. I can not access the Start to change anything, I can't change the boot order to reinstall W8.1. I can't do anything except get online with Firefox and that took 20 minutes.
BTW, I'm running a 5 month old HP that had 8.1 pre-installed. Now what? Use this one for a doorstop and buy something I can use?
I've been with you since the Tour Bus and you always give good advice, tips and there's a wealth of info on you website and I thank you. Please advise.

Posted by:

06 Aug 2015

Thanks much for the info on WUDO. I have shut it down. I want the bandwidth!
I would also like to state for those on the fence about downloading Windows 10: I am a 66 year old housewife, and I was able to do the download via Windows update with only a few complications in about three and a half hours. And, I was able to figure the problems. I was happy with Windows 7, but there is a lot to be said for keeping up with the current technology. Good luck, everybody!!

Posted by:

06 Aug 2015

Everything new seems to spy on you, so Bob how about some support and articles on the free OP systems like Ubuntu etc, because Win 10 will eventually become very expensive to use, restrictive or in some cases prohibitive, as everything you need will be at extra cost.
Having just 1 major system maker on the market is dangerous, so one day we will need the choice of other OP systems and the more opposition to the M'soft product, the better.

Posted by:

Charles Feinstein
06 Aug 2015

Cortona is not enabled in Canada, so no concern with that issue (probably for the time being, anyway). Thank you for the great information.

Posted by:

06 Aug 2015

I would not worry about turning off WIFI sense.The automatic connection will only occur if you have shared a network with someone in the past. So, if you never share, this feature will never activate.

Posted by:

Susan Odom
07 Aug 2015

Really like Windows 10. As someone said a little while ago, I think I have it together. Yes, some annoying things, but oh, well. I did not like their Photo editor (I gave it a fair chance) and went back to my Irfanview, but other than that, I am okay. Windows 10 kept all my program icons on my desktop, so I can easily go back to my favorite ones if I want to. A few problems I have corrected myself, but I can't seem to overcome the "Website blocked" and then am unable to unblock it. This happens to 8 out of 10 websites I go to, and they are not offensive ones. I should have the choice to unblock. Thanks, Bob,I have been subscribing to your e-letter for a loooong time.

Posted by:

Peter Wall
07 Aug 2015

1) Microsoft provides all those great tools like wizards, FixIts and Sysinternals. Why can't they provide a tool that reviews all settings, one at a time, tells you what it does, tells you if it affects your privacy or security or other facultative ability such as accessibility,and asks you what option you would like to apply?
2)It seems to me things like WUDO and WiFiSense are robbery - pure and simple - even if Google and Facebook are already robbing their users in other ways. They should all be sued by "?" Brave New World indeed!

Posted by:

Bob Greene
07 Aug 2015

This ABR issue is a vital check list for basic security and control over Windows 10. As with many new Windows versions, the torrent of complexity is simply too much for most consumers.

Especially valuable for Windows 10 trainees are tips for Microsoft's "Windows Update Delivery Optimization", and ABR's suggested restriction of default distribution settings for Windows files.

Like ABR poster Daniel Wiener, many Windows 10 upgraders are concerned Windows 10 does not confer substantial advantage over Windows 7. The next issue of ABR could address what, if anything, makes Windows 10 valuable-- aside from the fact MS has decreed Windows 7 code is no longer supported.

* EDITOR-- A minor typo was found in the sentence, "... Cortana is a personal assistant built into Windows 10. It's ability to respond to voice commands is similar to Siri on the iPhone..." is an "it's" error.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fixed the typo, thanks. Just want to clarify that MS has NOT decreed Windows 7 is unsupported. It's supported until 2020!

Posted by:

08 Aug 2015

Very informative, Bob. Thank you.
If I upgrade to 10, decide I don't like it, revert back to the previous OS, then later (within the allotted year) have another change of heart, will I be able to upgrade again for free?

Posted by:

08 Aug 2015

Hi Bob,
I have just found this article on "How much of my personal information can Microsoft access?" in a British newspaper.

I expect I will change to Win 10 before the free upgrade ends but it is a little worrying about the privacy things etc.....

Posted by:

Bob Greene
08 Aug 2015

Glad you clarified the point-- Microsoft still "supports" Windows 7, but dropped no-cost phone support (for users with non-OEM installations) and "mainstream" support, meaning no major new features and/or service packs. Other than losing those services, Microsoft still supports Windows 7.

Posted by:

John Crowe
10 Aug 2015

The Windows 10 upgrade was a big challenge on the HP Desktop with Windows 8.1. Somehow, I managed to loose all of my documents and pics which I had backed up just in case. However, the good news is that I found a site via Google that told me the steps to take get it all back and I have it all back.

I also had a bit of a time getting my wife's laptop with windows vista to connect the to the printer on the desktop. The solution their was to search for it by the computer's name and enter the user name and password for the administrator to get in. This now works fine.

My toshiba laptop with windows 7 breezed right through the process. Also, I down loaded that after reading your article and thus did not set it on automantic but decided at each stage where I had a choice how this thing was setting up.

I appreciate the article very much!

The only problem that remains is a memory problem has been diagnosed for me to get checked. I've learned from HP that there is a free program that I can download and open it into a flash drive which will become bootable and runs tests on your computer to see if I really have a memory problem. This desktop has 8GBs of memory and should not have a problem.

Posted by:

15 Aug 2015

Bob - thank you. I've been following your advice for years now and, like a chump, I've never said thank you.

So, thank you.

BTW - I'm a Windows Phone user (who dearly loves the OS) and I've always kept WiFi Sense turned on. Until now, that is. I never realized the step-stone access effect that could be in play here. I'll be turning it off now.

So, again....thank you.

Posted by:

17 Aug 2015

Really great article, Bob, one of your top 10 for sure.

WiFi Sense sounds like: "here is a gun. Point it at your temple. Now don't pull the trigger, OK boys and girls?". That's because I'm old enough to have some common sense, and because I'm a Corporate IT guy. I'll bet the millenials or whatever we're calling adolescents these days will love it. The same ones who live 24x7 on Facebook and let everyone in the world see everything they do or think. Microsoft can't seem to decide whether they want to be cool to personal users and reinforce their own foolish habits, or to stick to professional Business Products, where the real money is.

From what you've said, it sounds like installing Windows 10 in a business immediately violates any hope of Information Governance. How does that make sense? I guess we IT guys will have to find ways to tame it.

I already don't use Bing, but I'll have to give up on OneDrive and Cortana too. sigh. I have this huge SkyDrive account for FREE! I guess I'll tell all my clients to hold off on Windows 10 until we find some fixes or Microsoft wakes up and releases a professional version. Win 7 is good to 2020? Might just stay put.

Posted by:

18 Aug 2015

Thanks for the tips. I just did W7 to W10 and heard about "oversharing" issues. I made all the suggested changes you posted. I will continue to search for further tips on this subject.

Posted by:

18 Aug 2015

All this info is great, but there seems to be no info on all the differences that are showing up from one computer to another.

My family has 4 computers, from laptops to desktops, to a media center used only for movies, audiobooks and such. All of them have Windows 10 on them and all of them have major differences in what is included.

My laptop is the most confusing though. It had 8.1 with 'classic shell (win7)' on it before it was upgraded. Now, on Windows 10 it is showing some classic shell (win7) things that I don't understand.

I have classic shell win7 start window (no win10 tiles). Some Control Panel windows open as win7 and some as win10. And I want to know is, what would happen if I uninstall classic shell?

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

Thanks for this great article Bob. I would never have discovered these vulnerabilities by myself.

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

Thanks for this great article Bob. I would never have discovered these vulnerabilities by myself.

Posted by:

05 May 2016

In spite of the fact that I've been telling Windows 10 NO, I DON'T want to install, it eventually decided that I clearly meant YES, go right ahead and do whatever you like!!! I'm quite ticked about it. Thank you Bob, for laying out all the privacy details clearly & simply here, it has been quite helpful.

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