As part of its continuing efforts to make their products better and more responsive, Microsoft routinely collects data about how customers use and interact with Windows 10. The collected data is then transmitted back to the company where it can be analyzed to reveal specific patterns of behavior. These patterns, in turn, can be used to make improvements to the operating system.
Much of the data collected is innocuous information regarding what icons are clicked, what navigation system is used most often, etc. But unless you change them, the default settings also allow Microsoft to collect data regarding what websites you browse and what apps you use. Microsoft will also collect data about the overall health of your device and suggest troubleshooting tips.
While all this data may help Microsoft make a better operating system, it also may not be the sort of information you want to share with the company—at least not always. This how-to tutorial shows you how to modify several configuration settings to adjust the types of data you allow Microsoft to collect about you.
Note: This article is also available as part of a free PDF that features a variety of Windows 10 April 2018 Update tips and techniques.
The configuration settings associated with Microsoft's data collection can be found under Privacy Settings. To navigate to the correct screen, open Settings by clicking the Start Menu button in the lower left corner of the Taskbar and clicking the Settings icon. This should open the Windows Settings screen as shown in Figure A.
Select the Privacy entry on the Windows Setting screen, and then select the Diagnostics & feedback item in the left-had navigation menu. You should see a screen similar to Figure B.
The default setting is on Full, which will not only send usage information to Microsoft but also data about websites visited and apps run. Change the setting to Basic if you want to limit data collected to just usage information.
Scroll down the page, and you will see a setting called Tailored experiences (Figure C), which allows Microsoft to use collected data about your activity and use it to personalize tips, ads, and recommendations that the company says will enhance your Windows experience. If you do not want a personalized experience in this way, you should change the setting to the off position.
If you want to know exactly what data Microsoft collected about you and your Windows 10 usage habits, you should turn on the Diagnostic data viewer setting, also shown in Figure C. This setting will store a local copy of the data Microsoft collects and allow you to review it at your convenience.
Scrolling further down the page (Figure D), you will see there is a button that allows you to delete all of the usage data collected from the current device. Clicking this button will clear the current data and start the collection process anew.
There is also a setting regarding the frequency Microsoft will ask for feedback in the form of surveys and questionnaires. The default is set to automatic, but you can adjust the frequency to meet your requirements.
SEE: Data classification policy (Tech Pro Research)
Collecting data about how customers use products is nothing new. It's the primary way companies determine what needs to be improved and what features need to be added. But customers should always be aware of what data is collected and what companies do with that information. The Microsoft Windows 10 April 2018 Update adds a few more collection settings for customers to thoughtfully consider.
- Top 5: Ways to protect your privacy (TechRepublic)
- Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Securing Windows policy (Tech Pro Research)
- Windows 10 to get new 'InPrivate Desktop' security feature (ZDNet)
- Privacy, identity 'impossible to protect' say 74% of security pros (TechRepublic)
- Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies (ZDNet)
- This is not your father's Microsoft (CNET)
Are you concerned about what data Microsoft is collecting about you? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.