Windows 10's Cortana tries to be helpful by displaying accurate, personalized ads based on your online searches and spamming useful suggestions as you type. But this can start to feel invasive after a while. Here are some tips you can use to keep Microsoft's watchful eye off your computer activity.
Turn personalized advertising off
For those unaware, Windows 10 assigns each user an “advertising ID” to personalize your ad experience based on your recent browser history. If you’re okay with seeing generic ads targeted to you based on demographics rather than your ID, we recommend turning this feature off.
- First, click on the magnifying glass symbol next to the Windows logo, at the bottom left of your screen.
- Next, type in Privacy; click on it, and select General.
- Check your computer’s privacy settings for any changes.
- Lastly, open your web browser and go to this link. Once there, select Off for :Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account” and “Personalized ads in this browser.”
This resets your ad ID, allowing you to experience the joys of web surfing without the creepy targeted advertisements.
Voice-controlled digital assistants have become big business. Microsoft capitalizes on this market with Cortana, an incredibly resourceful, built-in assistant that allows you to quickly set reminders, schedule events, and send email, among many other intuitive features. It uses the information it collects similarly to how Google’s Android-based assistant does it. However, Cortana can become overbearing at times.
- To turn it off, click on the Cortana icon in the taskbar, followed by the notebook icon on the left hand side of the pop-up panel.
- Click on Settings; this should present you with the first option that says, “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more”. Slide that to Off.
Once disabled, the Cortana option disappears, and you’re now presented with a search bar that you can use to search for things online or on your desktop.
Stop peer-to-peer file sharing
With peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing enabled, Windows 10 shares downloaded updates to your PC with other Windows 10 users by default. This helps other users update their systems faster, and speeds up your upgrade downloads, as well. However, if you are unhappy with your files being utilized by other users, you can turn it off.
- Head over to Settings once again.
- Click on Update and Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options, and finally select Choose how updates are delivered.
- By default, the “Updates from more than one place” setting is on, followed by two options: distribute updates only to PCs on local network, and shut off P2P updates entirely. If you want to disable this feature entirely without worrying about specifics, then move the slider to Off.
If you want to share your files with PCs on your in-house network only, leave the slider in the On position and select PCs on my local network. For more detailed instructions on how to stop P2P updates, click here.
Blunt Microsoft’s Edge
Remember Internet Explorer? Think of Microsoft Edge as the same, just on steroids. The tech giant’s fancy new browser is chock-full of features — such as Cortana Integration and typing prediction — which may make you uncomfortable, since all the features send data back to Microsoft. To turn off these intrusive functionalities, open Edge and click on the menu icon in the far right corner (three horizontal dots).
Once in, click on View Advanced Settings. There you have the option to disable Adobe Flash — which stops those Flash cookies from going anywhere. You’ll also encounter a bunch of settings you might want to disable under the Privacy and Services section.
These simple security tips will stop Microsoft from tracking your online movements for good! In case you’re interested in protecting your privacy, don’t hesitate to contact us today for all matters security related.