There has been some concern that Windows 10 gathers too much private information from users. Whether you think Microsoft’s operating system crosses the privacy line or just want to make sure you protect as much of your personal life as possible, we’re here to help. Here’s how to protect your privacy in just a few minutes.

Note: This story has been updated for the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, version 2004. If you have an earlier release of Windows 10, some things may be different.

Turn off ad tracking

At the top of many people’s privacy concerns is what data is being gathered about them as they browse the web. That information creates a profile of a person’s interests that is used by a variety of companies to target ads. Windows 10 does this with the use of an advertising ID. The ID doesn’t just gather information about you when you browse the web, but also when you use Windows 10 apps.

You can turn that advertising ID off if you want. Launch the Windows 10 Settings app (by clicking on the Start button at the lower left corner of your screen and then clicking the Settings icon, which looks like a gear) and go to Privacy > General. There you’ll see a list of choices under the title “Change privacy options”; the first controls the advertising ID. Move the slider from On to Off. You’ll still get ads delivered to you, but they’ll be generic ones rather than targeted ones, and your interests won’t be tracked.

win10 privacy advertising id v2004 IDG

You can turn off Windows 10’s advertising ID if you want. You’ll still get ads, but they’ll be generic ones. (Click any image in this story to enlarge it.)

To make absolutely sure you’re not tracked online when you use Windows 10, and to turn off any other ways Microsoft will use information about you to target ads, head to the Ad Settings section of Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard. Sign into your Microsoft account toward the top of the page.

Then go to the “See ads that interest you” section at the top of the page and move the slider from On to Off. After that, scroll down to the “See personalized ads in your browser” section and move the slider from On to Off. Note that you need to go to every browser you use and make sure the slider for “See personalized ads in your browser” is set to Off.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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