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How To Protect Your Privacy in Windows 10

How To Protect Your Privacy in Windows 10

Jamie Finch
The internet has helped to transform many aspects of how we work and play, but that doesn't mean it's without its drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks of being online is potential windows 10 privacy breaches, and your personal information can be very valuable to the right people and businesses.
Regardless, it's understandable that many people want their windows 10 privacy settings to be as tight as possible. The team at HP recognizes your desire for online privacy and strives to deliver products and services that help ensure your personal data is as safe as possible.
As such, we've created this article to help our readers adjust their Windows 10 privacy settings so they can work and play online with peace of mind.

Online privacy and ad tracking

online privacy
Before we look at how to protect your privacy with Windows 10, it can help to understand how and why companies or individuals collect your data. You can break down online Windows 10 privacy breaches into two main categories:


Hackers are skilled coders that can overcome a computer's security systems, giving them access to your personal data. Such data can include bank account details they can use to steal money from you. Other examples include sensitive, personal data that nefarious characters can use for blackmail.
HP makes computers containing the latest in online security technology, helping to keep you safe when online. However, even the most sophisticated technology can't make you entirely safe unless you take adequate precautions. Microsoft privacy settings help protect you from hackers as default, but it's still wise to be cautious because hackers will take an opportunity if they find one.
To be sure, reviewing your Windows 10 privacy settings is a good idea to help close any potential openings for hackers. This is especially the case if your device holds sensitive data that will make your computer a target.


Tracking involves 3rd parties monitoring your behaviour online with help from cookies in your browser. Businesses often use this information to understand their potential customers' behaviour, helping them create effective marketing campaigns and offers.
This practice is often considered helpful rather than harmful because it helps businesses deliver targeted ads and other relevant materials. Computers can also track your behaviour to help them provide useful features like Microsoft's Cortana service.
Regardless, it's understandable that many people would rather share as little of their information as possible. So, without any further ado, let's see how you can review your Microsoft 10 privacy settings for your peace of mind when working or playing online.

Randomise your hardware address

Your computer has a hardware address that lets people track you even when using different WiFi networks. This can be helpful for companies gathering marketing data and help hackers gain access to your machine.
The good news is that you can randomise your hardware address every time you log in, making it harder for people to track your online behaviour.
To randomise your hardware address, you first need to go to the Network & Internet option under Settings. From there, you will need to go to the WiFi section, where you will see the option to "use random hardware addresses". Make sure this Microsoft privacy setting is switched on, and your hardware address will be different every time you log in, making it harder for others to track you.

Turn off ad tracking

Turn off ad tracking
Ad tracking lets companies monitor your online behaviour, so they know which products and services you are interested in. They can then use this information to deliver ads and other marketing materials you're likely to be interested in. If you don't want these companies tracking your ads, then you can simply turn ad tracking off.
To turn off ad tracking, you should first go to the start button in the bottom left of the screen. Then go to settings and then to privacy. Then you will need to go to the 'general option' where you should see the option to change your privacy settings on the right side of your screen. Ensure the option is switched to 'off', and 3rd parties can no longer use your computer's tracking ID to monitor your online activity.
Remember that turning off ad tracking will not stop ads from showing. Not only that, but any ads you see will likely be generic rather than showing something that's targeted toward your needs and wants. Regardless, many people consider generic ads a small price to pay for Windows 10 privacy online.

Turn off location tracking

Windows 10 can also track your location, helping them deliver local services such as the local weather and offers in your area. Understandably, many people would rather not have others know where they are or have been. Again, the good news is that you can simply turn location tracking off, so your location remains private.
To turn location tracking off, you must first go to settings from the start button. From here, you will then need to go to the privacy section and then to the location section. On the right, you will see a section on "Allow access to location on this device". Scroll down, and you will see an option to change the appropriate Microsoft settings, and you can select whether or not you want individual apps to track your location.
While turning off this option will help ensure your location remains private, it can mean losing access to services like local weather reports. However, it won't impact the overall running of your machine, making it a no-brainer for many people to limit access.

Limit Cortana

limit Cortana use
Cortana can be a very useful assistant, offering services like managing lists, setting reminders and alarms, opening apps on your machine, and helping you manage your calendar. To offer these services, Cortana needs to know certain information, which it mostly gathers from monitoring how you use your device. Such information includes details like your location and place of work that many people would prefer to remain private.
You can change these settings by clicking on the Cortana icon, which you will find to the right of the search box. Next, click on the ellipsis (3 dots) located at the top right of the Cortana option screen and click on settings, then on privacy. The menu will then give you different options to tell Cortana how much of your information it can use.
For example, you can restrict Cortana's access to your calendar, helping to improve your online security and privacy. Restricting Cortana in this way will make the service less effective at helping you. However, if you don't use Cortana, changing these Microsoft settings will not impact your computer's work.

Change app permissions

Apps like webcams and microphones help to make it easier to communicate with people. As beneficial as such services are, there is a risk of security breaches if you're not careful. Such security breaches might mean people accidentally listening to a discussion or watching your behaviour. Webcams and mics might also give hackers access to your machine, potentially resulting in more serious security breaches.
To change app permissions, go to settings from the start button and then go to the privacy section. Then, look to the left-hand side, where you will see the 'app permissions' section and a list of options that let you block or allow access to certain apps.
Using this method means you have to turn on access when you need the apps, but it will help ensure your online safety at other times.

Delete diagnostic data

Windows collects data about your hardware so they can use the information to improve their products and services. If you don't want them to collect this data, you can adjust your Windows 10 privacy settings accordingly.
To do this, you will first need to go to settings. Then go to privacy, then to diagnostics and feedback. You will then see a "Diagnostic data" section that lets you decide how much data Microsoft gathers. Select the "required" option, and Microsoft will only collect the data it needs to ensure your system is working correctly.

Protecting your Windows 10 PC

Many people are unhappy to give their personal details to others they don't know. Despite this, such details are obtained on a vast scale online, often without the owner's knowledge.
The most serious threat is hacking, which can sometimes be devastating personally and financially. However, the good news is that relatively few people are likely to ever become a victim of hacking, provided they take precautions by adjusting their Microsoft privacy settings accordingly.
What is common, however, is the sharing of information like which websites you've visited and which purchases you have made. This information is shared by millions of people every day, with many of them unaware. The good news is that adjusting your Windows 10 privacy settings will prevent this information from being shared if you so wish.
HP will continue to develop our technology and services to help ensure your continued safety online in the future. If you would like to know more about how HP works to provide online security, feel free to read our Privacy Statement.

About the Author

Jamie is contributing writer for HP Tech Takes with almost 20 years of writing experience. He has a focus on marketing topics but enjoys writing on pretty much any topic under the sun. Jamie enjoys gaming, virtual reality workouts, and relaxing with friends and family in his spare time.

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