Tag Archives: protect your privacy

Windows 10 and Privacy Part 1: General Privacy Options

Let’s get one thing straight: operating systems like Windows have always had to walk a line with privacy: balancing on one side user safety and discretion, while, on the other, features that observe and learn from user behavior.  That being said, Windows 10 incorporates new features for tracking behavior that  a lot of people think are going a bit too far.  They’re not hidden though; in fact, they’re right there in  the install screen.

Windows 10 Customize Settings

So what is this tracking? It’s all about getting to know you. Windows 10 was designed to be a product of a multi-platform environment.  It’s on as many tablets, laptops and phones as it is on desktops.  This means being mobile-friendly, so it incorporates location services that can tell where you are.

It’s also about making things more convenient.  By logging the kinds of things you write, the sites you visit, and the voice commands you prompt to Cortana, the OS can better predict what you’ll want int he future, making searches faster and more accurate.

The truth is, all of this is stuff that some people really want.  At the same time, there’s another faction: those who are so cautious they won’t even open a browser without a pop-up and tracking blocker turned on. To these folks, the new predictive features in Windows 10 are nothing but bad news.

Most of us are somewhere in between the glass house and the tinfoil hat. Fortunately, whichever category you fit into, there are easy ways to monitor, manage and set your privacy preferences in Windows 10.

Getting to the Privacy Settings Window

Follow these steps to set your privacy preferences:

1. If you have a touchscreen, swipe left to bring up the Action Center. Tap All Settings.

2. For a desktop computer or laptop with a standard screen, click the Start button, then select Settings.

3. Tap or click Privacy.

4. You should see the General tab, which displays this list of invasive tracking options, all of which are set to “On” by default. To change the setting, tap or click the ones you want to change and slide the selector button to the left to turn them “Off.”

Windows 10 Privacy OptionsHere’s a breakdown of what each category is and does.

Your advertising ID

… is a tracking number lets advertisers target you inside Microsoft apps.  A refresher: targeted advertising is just advertising aimed at a specific audience, namely, you. So sharing the advertising ID sets up ads for products that advertisers think you will be likely to buy.

When you slide this to Off, the data associated with this number is not shared with advertisers.  It doesn’t mean ads won’t appear on Microsoft apps, they just won’t be targeted to you based on your behavior.

SmartScreen Filters

This item is designed to keep Windows Store apps from sending you to unsavory websites that might contain malware. We recommend leaving this setting on.

Typing and writing

This setting lets Windows actually track the way that you write and type, supposedly to improve handwriting recognition (writing) and autocomplete (typing). It collects information about your personal writing style and chops up the data so that it can’t be put back together and used to predict the sorts of things you’ll want to say.

If you find the idea of Microsoft tracking the way you input text a little creepy, slide this button to off.  If, on the other hand, an autocorrect that more quickly learns what you want to say appeals to you, leave it on.

Locally relevant content

This one applies only if you are using a language other than English. It makes your browser (namely Microsoft Edge) display localized custom search results.

If your first language isn’t English and you want the browser to find sites that better match your language preferences, leave this on.  Of course, depending on your other settings, it will also make advertising language-appropriate too.

Show me tips about Windows

Why not? Leave on to get tips about Windows delivered to your desktop.  Too annoying? Toggle it off.

Manage My Microsoft advertising and other personalization info

Located just above the Privacy Statement is a link to a Microsoft web page.  That page lets you turn on/off advertising that’s personalized according to your browsing and search histories

There’s also an option that’s lets you have it half-way.  You can turn off personalized (targeted) ads in the browser as a whole, but still allow them on those sites that recognize your Microsoft account.  These include Outlook.com, OneDrive and Microsoft Office Online; and it also includes MS affiliated sites too.

Believe it or not, some people like personalized ads – that is – they know ads are inevitable and figure you might as well see stuff that interests them.  You can always ignore them . . . right?

Turn off/on to manage whether your browsing history is shared with advertisers.

Manage Privacy with an Automated Tool

Privacy is a key component of managing a computer.  That’s why utilities like SlimCleaner Plus have incorporated push-button controls for managing privacy settings.  Open the program and look for the icon labeled “Privacy.”

SlimCleaner Plus Privacy 2When the Privacy Manager opens, you can not only control how Windows gathers data, but also manage features related to how  computer behavior is monitored and reported.  Just add or remove checks to the boxes beside each privacy control.


Private Browsing in the Top 5 Browsers

Whether you’re paranoid about the security of your web history, think it’s creepy that advertisers can stalk you around the Internet, or just don’t think it’s anybody’s darn business where you go and what you do online, there are ways to protect your privacy. Each of the five major web browsers has its own method of private browsing, designed to keep some busy bodies from finding out what you’ve been up to online.

What Private Browsing Does and Does not Do

Private browsing mostly allows you to surf the Web without keeping a list of the websites you visit, usually called a history. Some browsers’ private modes also prevent websites from placing  tracking cookies and/or temporary Internet files on your hard drive (also known as caching) that keep track of your online habits.

Browser History

calendar_history_iconPrivate browsing prevents a record of where you go from being saved to your computer, but it doesn’t erase your browsing history from existence; your ISP will always be keeping tabs of some form or another as to where their clients go.  What’s more, if you’re working in a closed network (like the one your work computer is using), it’s probably monitoring your traffic in some way. So if you want true anonymity on the Internet, private browsing won’t do it. The good news is that there are plenty of anti-tracking, IP address-hiding, identity-masking add-ons available, many of which can lock down your privacy on a level that extends beyond your PC.


cookie_iconPrivate browsing also deters targeted ads by disabling cookies.  Cookies are text files that are stored on your computer when you visit a certain site. When you go to that site again, it reads your cookies and recognizes your computer. That’s why you get “Welcome Back” messages on sites you visit often.  It’s also why you’ll see advertisements for stuff you searched for a day ago appear on websites you’ve never been to . . . they can read cookies too.

Private browsing stops that. It disables cookies so that no matter where you go, you won’t be recognized. That’s great to cut down on ads, but it also means that in private browsing you’ll always have to log-in as no website will remember your saved password in a private session.  And while the websits may save a new cookie to your computer, it’ll be deleted when you close the private browsing session. Continue reading