Whether you installed Windows 10 when it first came out, or you just bought a Windows 10 computer, you should take steps to secure the operating system better.
In short, Windows 10 is a privacy nightmare. Not only did Microsoft use draconian methods to coerce users into installing it, but the system itself is toxic. By default, Windows 10 gives itself the right to upload your data to Microsoft’s cloud, uses your bandwidth for the company’s own purposes, and tracks your use of Windows.
“Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.”
By going into Windows 10 Settings > Privacy > General, you can see for yourself what kind of data Microsoft collects:
- Let apps use my advertising ID
- Turn on SmartScreen Filter
- Send Microsoft info about how I write
- Let websites provide locally relevant content
Collecting this type of data isn’t necessarily new, many of these features are included in Android, iOS and Chrome. Thankfully, there is a way to fix these.
When you first install Windows 10, be sure to turn Express Settings off. Click Customize Settings and proceed to turn everything off.
- Page prediction
- Connectivity and error reporting
- Automatically connect to open hotspots
- Automatically connect to networks
- Send error and diagnostic information
- Send typing and inking data
- Let apps use your advertising ID
It’s recommended that you opt to create a local account instead of a Microsoft account. During installation, when you see the “Make it yours” screen, go to the bottom and click “Skip this step.” Then, just follow the onscreen instructions to create a local account that isn’t tied to Microsoft.
If you’ve been using Windows 10 for a while and you already have a Microsoft account, you can easily convert it to a local one. Go to Settings > Accounts > Your accounts. Click on Sign in with a local account.
Once Windows 10 is finished installing, go into Settings > Privacy, and turn off everything here as well, or at least the main four: General, Speech, inking & typing and Location. Next, while you’re still on the privacy page, scroll down to Feedback & diagnostics. In the first box, select Never. In the second box, select Basic.
Defender and Wi-Fi Sense
After that, go to Settings > Update & Security and click on Windows Defender. Turn off Cloud- based Protection and Sample Submission. Then, go download an antivirus program such as Avast! and/or Malwarebytes.
Go into Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Manage Wi-Fi settings. Turn off both of the switches in order to disable Wi-Fi Sense. Wi-Fi Sense automatically shares your Wi-Fi passwords among your contacts.
You can disable Cortana by clicking on the Search area down in the Windows taskbar. Go into Settings and turn off both the switches that you see there:
- Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more
- Search online and include web results
Next, you’ll want to open Command Prompt. Right-click on the Start button to use Command Prompt as an administrator. Type these commands into the console:
sc delete DiagTrack sc delete dmwappushservice echo "" > C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\ reg add "HKLM\Software\Policies\Mic
Open the Microsoft Edge browser. Go to More Actions > Settings > View advanced settings. Enable the “Do Not Track” setting, and disable search suggestions, page prediction and the SmartScreen filter. Finally, disable Cortana in the browser too.