Got Windows 10? Do These 5 Things NOW...
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.
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.
“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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Aug 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Got Windows 10? Do These 5 Things NOW... (Posted: 5 Aug 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved