Changes to Make for Reducing Privacy Risks on Windows Devices

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, January 05, 2023, 10:20 PM IST
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In today's digital world, preserving private information and staying off the grid is challenging. Almost all tech companies tend to collect data about you, and Microsoft's operating system is no different. Whether it be your location or typing information, Microsoft has access to it. 

However, there's something you can do to protect your privacy to a certain extent. Microsoft has made it available to restrict certain features to preserve your privacy. We strongly recommend you go through the next few steps to ensure a safer computing experience. 

The first thing you can do for your own security is to check your privacy settings. Here you will see a list of features that concern the amount of data you’re allowing Windows to gather. Go to Settings > Privacy, and on the left side, you will see the list of categories that everyone should go through. So, you can stop Windows from using an Advertising ID to provide relevant ads in applications. 

The categories are listed under Windows and App permissions. Go through each category on the list and adjust your settings to your liking. If you’re not sure whether to disable an option or not, go to “Learn more” in the upper right section. That will lead you to the Windows support webpage, where you can find explanations and decide if you want that feature on or off. 

Even though you should go through all of these, we suggest you pay special attention to the Privacy > General part and switch all four options off. Moreover, another important section that needs to be checked is Diagnostics & feedback. After going through these two sections, go through all the others respectively. 

Cortana is a digital assistant that helps your Windows experience. Even though it’s useful, this option gathers a lot of information to create personalized suggestions for you. If you want to safeguard your privacy from it completely, you can simply sign out of it.

However, if you still want to use Cortana, you cannot restrict everything. It’ll continue to index and store your data. Click on the Cortana icon, a circle right next to the search bar in the lower-left corner of your screen. Then, click on the menu button and go to Settings. 

After going to Settings, click on Privacy. Here you have a record of all the data Cortana gathered about you. More importantly, you can limit her access to your information. Furthermore, we suggest going to Settings > Talking to Cortana and switching the Wake word off.

Even though Microsoft says they need your information to create a better and personalized experience for you, they’ll use it mostly to make personalized ads. Therefore, using a Microsoft account allows them to gather information about you from your everyday life. It gives you some convenience benefits, but at the cost of your privacy.

Switching to a local account will keep the information about your activity local to your PC. This way, you’ll preserve your privacy, giving you peace of mind. To make this switch go to Settings > Accounts > Your info and click on Sign in with a local account instead. After clicking Next, click on Sign out and finish. 

Microsoft created a tool that helps you delete most data they have collected on you. To start it up, go to the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard page and sign in using your Microsoft account. Then click on Get Started.

All this may seem overwhelming, but when used to it, you’ll have no problem using it. After going through your Safety Review, check the Manage Your Activity Data section. This section allows you to check and delete the data you don’t want Microsoft to have. 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is there to encrypt your data and hide your IP address, making stealing your information very difficult. Aside from that, it also makes your information unintelligible, so it’s useless to anyone that could manage to steal it. 

Since it is one of the best online security and privacy solutions, get a VPN for Windows to surf the internet safely. By activating it, you can appear to be surfing from the opposite part of the world, and nobody can access your encrypted data. 

Many users have noticed a big drawback with Windows – the OS gathers a lot of private data. Even though you can never keep information completely private online, we gave you a few security steps you can take to stay as safe as possible.

Aside from changing Privacy Settings and Cortana and switching to a local account, you can best secure your privacy via the Privacy Dashboard and by using a VPN. The most crucial part of going and staying online is creating a safe environment that makes you feel secure. Therefore, check and ensure your safety through these few essential steps.

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