A lot of Microsoft Windows users have this nagging feeling that their operating system could be collecting a bit too much information on them.
It is true that Microsoft has made a lot of attempts to address some of these problems and as a consequence has made Windows a lot more transparent than its first edition.
However, there is a lot of work that Microsoft has to do if it wants to satisfy those online consumers who take their privacy serious.
And there are a couple of things that one can immediately identify which Microsoft should fix as soon as possible.
Microsoft, as a company needs to make sure that its policy documents and its wordings are as simple as possible.
Secondly, the company needs to make some significant changes to its operating system’s privacy-focused settings.
Our research shows that the default settings that Windows 10 offers to users in the Settings menu to do not really do a good job of locking in the user’s privacy.
In other words, it does very little to protect user privacy.
Rather than doing that , a lot of Windows 10 critics believe that the system actually does something opposite.
Microsoft Windows 10 leaves the user’s personal data wide open to all sorts of invasive tools.
Hence, the question becomes:
how to reclaim privacy in the modern world of internet-connected privacy-invading operating systems.
In this guide we will answer some of these questions by giving you tips on how you too can modify certain Windows 10 settings and as a result, address the matter of your exposed online privacy.
Lock screen settings are bad. Here is how to fix them
The weird thing about your Windows 10 lock screen is that even strangers with enough technical know-how have the option of accessing all of your information that appears there.
Login screen and lock screen are the things that you see on your display whenever you try to reboot your system or restart it.
The majority of online Windows 10 users have made it a habit of sorts to set Windows 10 to show their notifications on the main lock screen.
Displaying such information on the lock screen is a mistake.
Well, if someone happens to look at your machine and accesses its first screen, then by doing nothing else apart from looking at the default screen, that someone can collect a good amount of personal data on you.
In order to guard against that, here are some of the things you should get to pronto.
The steps go something like this,
- First go to Settings.
- Then click on the option that says System.
- After that make way to Notifications.
- Then click on Actions.
- After that click on the toggle which is related to Show Notifications.
- And switch it off.
This should take care of notifications appearing on lock screens.
Once you have completed the steps that we have mentioned above, you should be able to prevent any type of notification showing up when your machine is actually locked.
While you are at it, why don’t you also try to hide your real email address.
Here is how to hide your email address in Windows 10.
- First, make way to Settings.
- And then choose Cortana.
- After that, click on the option that says Talk to Cortana.
- When that is done, choose the option that turns the Toggle Off which is next to Use Cortana option when the user, that is you, has locked the device.
Now, there is one little drawback that you have to deal with once you turn off the feature that we have mentioned above.
That drawback is that Cortana is no longer available.
You can’t use it.
Even when you have locked your device.
However, if you want to secure your privacy then there is really no way to comprehensively protect your privacy.
Of course, there are those of you who cannot live without Cortana.
It is their best friend.
We get that.
For those of you, you need to find a way to use Cortana without giving up your privacy while your computer machine is locked.
The best way to use Cortana without it invading your privacy is by limiting Cortana’s scope.
In order to get started, all that you have to do is to uncheck the option’s box that says Let Cortana have access to my Power BI, calendar, messages, and email while I have locked my device.
Turning on this option secures all the personal information that you might have on your machine.
Best of all, you can till ask Cortana some of the questions which are bothering you and receive decent answers to them.
Your device has account settings on Windows 10. Change them
There is one annoying habit that a lot of folks on the internet have started to develop.
And that habit is of using the same given accounts on a decent number of different internet-enabled devices.
That is not cool as far as your privacy is concerned.
The thing you need to understand here is that by default Windows 10 takes the opportunity to sync the present settings on all of the user’s Internet-enabled devices.
This is, as mentioned before, the default settings.
There are a couple of benefits that the sync feature brings to your machine.
One benefit is that, the sync feature makes it very easy for anyone to synch jis/her settings to all of his/her other internet-enabled devices.
With the sync feature turned on you really can access all of your data on all of your devices with ease.
You can also manage the data, if that is what is important to you.
With that said, it is also true that the sync feature also comes with a problem.
Mainly, it syncs all of the user’s settings including the user’s passwords across all of the user’s internet-enabled devices.
You do not need us to remind you that the way the internet is today, if those synced devices happen to fall into the malicious hands of bad actors then you could have to face some really serious consequences.
Hence, we recommend that users should change those settings as soon as possible.
In other to change the related settings, all that you really need to do here is to,
- Firstly, go to the Settings menu.
- Then click on accounts.
- And then go to the option that says “Sync your device settings.”
- You need to take this feature and toggle it to Off.
This should effectively stop the syncing process on all of your devices in the same instant.
You will no longer have to worry about syncing each of your settings on all of your devices.
Perhaps we should also mention here that instead of doing the last step that we have mentioned, you can also take an alternative route.
The alternative route is to first select all of your sync settings turn by turn and then turn them Off or On on an individual basis.
Note that once you go through the above process, none of your devices would be able to sync with each other.
Effectively, they will all be out of sync.
So far so good (for your privacy).
Now, whenever you have a desire to access any of your devices, you will have no option but to sing in manually and enter your current password.
You should also know that once you turn off this option you would effectively desync all of your general settings and passwords as well.
No more syncing across any of your devices, in other words.
Because of that, you will have little other choice but to manually sign in with the help of your official Microsoft Account and then manually enter the required password.
One other change that we think you should make with regards to your account if you want to protect your privacy is that you should set it such that it only makes use of local accounts.
And that makes sense.
After all, if you have already disabled all of your sync settings then why would you have any need for your Microsoft account when trying to log out of or into any of your machines.
Instead of using your Microsoft account, the better approach is to simply create a brand new and different local user account that has a new username and of course, a password.
This holds especially true for your primary machine.
In order to get going on this, all you really need to do is to modify the settings mentioned below.
- First, go to the Settings menu.
- Then move to the option where you can go to Accounts.
- After that select the option of Your info.
- And then click the option that says Sign in with your local account.
When that is done, all you really need to do is to follow the on-screen instructions to create a new username and password.
Don’t forget to have a good password hint.
The password hint adds that much-needed protection for those situations when you just cannot remember your newly created password.
Keep in mind that once you do this, you would effectively stop Microsoft Windows gathering a ton of information about you without your consent.
However, if you ever want to sync your files using services such as OneNote, Office 365 and/or OneDrive or even want to sync the purchases that you have made on the official Microsoft Store, you will have to first sign in to Windows with your Microsoft account.
Windows reveals your location and your activities. Here is how to stop that.
Plenty of online users keep their device’s location settings to ON especially when they are on their mobile devices for a variety of purposes.
You have to have access to your Maps application and you may need to use find out the weather.
However, as it turns out, even though these features provide your with a ton of convenience, they can track you without you ever knowing about it if you have a habit of leaving the location feature on at all times.
In fact, our research shows that not only weather apps can track you, anyone with enough skills and motivation can do so as well.
There are tons of advertisers and third-party applications that leave no stone unturned when it comes to access their user’s location.
You should also keep in mind that once you turn on the location feature in Windows 10, Microsoft Windows 10 actually stores information regarding that location for a period of 24 hours.
Following from that, any application that has your permission to access your location can also use that location information for a period of 24 hours if you access it during that time.
So turn off Windows location feature by following the steps below,
- First, make your way to the Settings menu.
- Then go forward to Privacy.
- After that click on the option that says General.
- And then hit the toggle button in order to turn it Off.
- You should remember here that the steps we have mentioned above will not necessarily stop Windows 10 from showing you ads.
However, what these steps will do is that they will stop Windows 10 from bombarding you with advertisements that are personalized.
In other words, by following these steps you would have effectively hidden your preferences from any and all prying advertisers.
If you want to opt out of the advertisement option completely then you will have to go to the official Microsoft website and then opt-out of the advertising page.
How to hide your IP address on Windows 10 PC
There is an easy way.
Before we mention that way, we would like to remind you that there are many benefits in hiding your Windows 10 IP Address.
If you want to make sure that you are able to leverage each of those benefits without spending a lot of time and effort in implementing them then all you really have to do is to sign up for a VPN service and then use that to hide your IP address.
Windows 10 has just recently taken over the mantle of the world’s most installed operating system from Windows 7.
Pretty soon, each and every machine that uses Microsoft Windows will only have on Windows version and there are no prizes for guessing that Windows version would be none other than Windows 10.
Windows 10, in other words, is soon going to dominate the Microsoft operating system ecosystem.
Hence, we highly recommend that you install a good VPN service as soon as possible in order to hide your real IP Address.
The thing you need to understand about concealing your real public IP address is that once you do so you also get the opportunity to encrypt all of your online internet traffic.
Moreover, the other benefit of doing so is that no one can then make an attempt to spy on your online activities or whatever it is that you on the internet on a daily basis.
So here is how you should go about hiding your IP address on Windows 10.
The first step is to sign up for a good VPN service provider.
Our research shows that the best VPN service provider with which you can hide your IP address on Windows 10 is IPVanish.
Click here to sign up for IPVanish right here and right now from the official website and that too at a discount.
After signing up with a good VPN service provider the next step is to first download and then install the official VPN app on one’s PC.
Then you need to launch the online application and then sign in.
When that is done, you need to choose a special VPN server in a country of your choice and then connect to it.
After that, in order to know for sure if the VPN service that you have signed up for is working, you should go to a site like ipleak.net or others to check your IP address and make sure that the VPN service you have installed has actually changed your IP address.
A VPN service is also able to provide you with a ton of protection if you want to keep hackers, websites, apps, services, and your internet service provider away from your internet activities.
Again, be warned that don’t just think that just because you have signed up for a VPN service you are safe.
You are not.
You need to make sure that you sign up for a good VPN service.
Only a good and reputable VPN service can provide an adequate shield against rampant spying and malicious attacks.
As mentioned before as well, our research shows that the best VPN service provider to use with Windows 10 is IPVanish.
Of course, there are many other good VPN service providers that you can use with Windows 10 to hide your IP address and hence protect your privacy.
Click here if you want to read our list of best VPN service provider.
If you do not have the time for that, then it is safe to assume that the best VPNs for Windows 10 privacy are,
In our ending remarks, we would like to let you know that in the end it is your own responsibility to protect your privacy.
Only you can take care of your private information.
Because Windows 10, sure as hell, is not going to do it for you.
We live in an age where the vast majority of companies are profit-oriented over everything else.
There are also advertisers to worry about.
None of them care about your privacy.
The fact that an individual has an automatic right to his/her privacy means nothing to these entities.
So we must all work together in order to ensure that we keep our backs safe.
Follow the tips that we have mentioned in this guide in order to ensure that at least your operating system Windows 10 is not able to chew on your privacy at the least.
Turning off all the feature that we have mentioned above will hurt you a bit in terms of time spent in logging in to various services.
But at least you will know that your identity, privacy, and data is a lot safer than other average online consumers who might have made the mistake of trading their online privacy and identity to save a couple of clicks.
Reclaim your privacy, use a VPN.
Use the comments section below to let us know your experiences with Windows 10 and how turning off the features that we mentioned in the above list changed your usage of Windows 10.
We would love to hear your thoughts on how our tips for Windows 10 privacy worked for you.
Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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