The truth about Windows 10

Recently one of our clients shared a post on Facebook that provided a lot of information about what information Windows 10 shares about its users. We were disappointed to find that while some of this information is Microsoft shares is true the article / post contained misleading and false information. We always do our best to provide the best advice to our clients and we spend countless hours both using and troubleshooting Windows 10 PC’s which helps us to provide advice and information based on our own experiences.

(Please note that the bolded text is from the original post and therefore is cited in context)

Data syncing is by default enabled. (Sends your entire hard drives contents to Microsoft)

If and ONLY IF you setup a Microsoft Account (you don’t need a Microsoft Account you can setup a local account if you wish choose the option that says don’t use a Microsoft Account) None of your hard drives content is automatically synced. Windows 10 does come with OneDrive which will provide cloud storage but contents must be saved into that directly for it to be synced or uploaded to the cloud.

Collects and sends your Browsing history and open websites

This information is only sent to Microsoft if you are using the Microsoft Edge web browser which we strongly do not recommend. With other great free browser’s like Mozilla’s Firefox and Google Chrome we simply haven’t needed Microsoft for web browsing for a very long time. If you insist on using Edge you can still disable this feature from edge by going to    > Settings > View advanced Settings, and then, under Privacy and services, turn the Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge setting off. If you have already turned off Cortana, then you don’t need to turn this setting off because it will already be disabled!

Sends all your Apps settings.

Again those with a Microsoft Account setup will be able to sync their settings to their Microsoft Account which creates a seamless experience for this logging into their account on multiple PC’s. If you access Settings > Privacy you will see a slew of settings that you can disable completely or you can disable individual app access including your microphone and webcam.

WiFi Sense collects and sends WiFi & hotspot names and passwords. These are then shared to every Windows 10 computer that comes within range! (and also shares them on your Facebook Timeline)

Microsoft does not share your Wi-Fi data with just any computer that comes in range and does not without your permission share with contacts which can include Facebook friends. Microsoft has never and will never share your Wi-Fi password information publicly on Facebook that’s just a lawsuit waiting to happen. When you first connect to your wireless network you will be asked if you want to share Wi-Fi information and each time you connect to a new network it provides the same prompt. You can disable the Wi-Fi sense feature all together by going to Settings > Network & Internet > Manage Wi-Fi Settings then under; For networks I select, share them with my, uncheck any contacts you don’t want to share your network information with.

Your device is by default tagged with a unique advertising ID which is used to serve you with personalised advertisements by third-party advertisers and ad networks.

Yes, this is true because of Windows 10 use of apps and advertising across them a unique advertising ID is created for your device and can easily be disabled by going to Settings >
Privacy > General
then disable the unique advertising ID option. Having this turned on does NOT mean that you are going to get unexpected pop-ups or advertising in Windows this affects only apps that use advertising and websites that you visit through the web browser.

Cortana (Personal Assistant) can – and will – collect any or all of your camera recordings, your keystrokes, searches and microphone input, Calendar data. (Appointments, etc)

One of the first things we do on all Windows 10 machines is disable Cortana because it’s not really useful for basic users. While Microsoft does use Cortana to capture entered information the data is either being stored in the cloud for your access later or being used similar to the ways that Google or Siri store and track your information. To disable Cortana simply click in your search box which will then ask you if you would like to use Cortana. Turn Cortana off and it will ask you if you’re sure. Confirm your choice and Cortana is disabled. You may still see Cortana in the running apps list because Cortana is built into Windows 10 however once turned off Cortana will not collect or store your information. If you want to turn Cortana off later on you can also disable it by going to Settings > Privacy > Speech, Inking & Typing and then click on “stop getting to know me”

Microsoft can collect any personal data, like your identity, passwords, demographics, interests and habits, usage data (if you also have a Windows Phone, it will be “synced” as well, so they will have your call and SMS history, as well as any data stored on the phone, like pictures/files and audio and video recordings) contacts, relationships, physical location data, (i.e. your real address), emails, instant messages, caller list.

While some of the information here is true this information isn’t just being sent all over the place. The information such as SMS and call history would be reported to relevant apps that you choose to connect to your computer such as Skype which the user installs and chooses to use on their device. All of the above mentioned can be limited to specific app access or disabled completely by visiting Settings > Privacy and reviewing each of the sub categories listed. The Phone Companion app in Windows 10 needs to be setup (unless you set it up previously using your Microsoft account) thus there is no way for Microsoft to access this data without your knowledge or permission.

Windows 10 no longer gets Windows Updates directly from Microsoft. All future updates will be delivered via a “distributed network,” meaning that you will be automatically connected to multiple random computers out on the internet! Your computer may be connected to a Ukrainian, Brazilian or Chinese hacker group just waiting to infect you with who knows what! Microsoft will “push” any new updates to 50,000 random computers, who will in turn redistribute them to 50,000 more. Each of those 50,000 will push them to 50,000 more and so on. By using your internet connection to distribute Windows Updates saves Microsoft many millions of dollars in bandwidth costs, server maintenance and storage costs.

While Windows 10 does have a feature that allows computers to download updates from other computers both on local and non-local computers this feature is DISABLED by default. Using this feature could actually benefit the many people who are now utilizing metered connections (hot spots or pay per use internet) as it prevents you from needing to download the data more than once if you have more than one Windows 10 machine. If you would like to take advantage of this feature you can go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options and then click on “Choose how updates are delivered”. We strongly recommend that if you utilize this feature that you choose the option that says “local computers only” so that you aren’t connected to random computers over the internet.

From July 29, Microsoft will start scrolling ads on your “welcome” and “shutdown” screens! They will control how many ads you see, so it may take several minutes for your PC to startup/shutdown!

Actually Windows 10 has already been featuring said “ad’s” since it was first installed. You probably noticed long ago that your login screen changes to a different picture from time to time. Sometimes this may display an ad (although I haven’t personally seen one yet) and yes you’ve guessed it with a few clicks this can too be disabled! Just visit Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen > then change your background from “Windows Spotlight” to either Picture or Slideshow. Currently only one “ad” appears on the lock screen and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.

If you use Microsoft’s new EDGE browser on Windows 10 or Internet Explorer on Windows 7, 8.1 – you will have to close regular full page “overlay” ads while you are surfing. Windows 7 & 8.1 are slated to get this as well!

Again Microsoft’s edge browser is junk just as Internet Explorer has been for many years. Just a few clicks will allow you to hide edge and to set another as your default browser simply go to Settings > System > Default Apps and click on Browser to select a different installed browser. If you were an Internet Explorer user before Windows 10 you can still continue using it as your default. You will need to go under all apps in your start menu to locate Internet Explorer (or search for it in the taskbar search box!)

If you need further advice or support regarding Windows 10 or any other Windows related problem feel free to contact Jester’s Computers at 717-642-6611. Stay tuned to our Facebook page and our website for upcoming specials! 

 

 

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