Windows 10 could be a major threat to your privacy, and Microsoft is trying to force you to use it whether you want it or not.
In fact, if you use Windows 7 or 8, Microsoft could automatically update you to Windows 10 and begin tracking your every move.
“Microsoft openly stated that pervasive data collection will be present in any Windows version starting from Windows 10, and as a host of research on the Internet shows, this data collection cannot be disabled using official means,” tech expert Artem S. Tashkinov wrote at itvision.altervista.org.
The default settings for Windows 10 allow Microsoft to track every website you visit, every purchase you make, and every word you type into the search engine. It even allows Microsoft to track your physical location. Microsoft makes upgrading to the operating system tempting by making it free – at least until July 29.
Microsoft uses all of this data and interaction in several ways:
- Offering users targeted ads.
- Guiding users to its Windows Store.
- Funneling users to the search page Bing, which it owns.
None of this is done with the current versions of Windows. (Windows 10 also can drain your battery if you own an older laptop.)
Fortunately, there are some ways to block Windows 10’s data collection and even to go back to Windows 7 or Windows 8 if you want.
Don’t Use Express Settings
Many users may not realize that the version of Windows 10 that automatically installs employs the so-called Express Settings. These automatically share a wide variety of information with Microsoft, including location and browser data, TechRadar reported. You can avoid these by picking “Custom Settings” for the install.
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If you’ve already installed Windows 10 using the Express Settings, then you can reverse Microsoft actions under the Privacy Settings in the control panel. For example, one setting asks if you want to “let apps use my advertising ID, send Microsoft Info about how I write, and let websites provide locally relevant content.” If this is on, both Microsoft and advertisers can collect data from your computer.
Other Problems With Windows 10
IT Pro reported that some of the Window 10 apps can take control of your camera and microphone and collect account information unless you turn them off.
You should also make sure that Wi-Fi Sense is off. If this feature is turned on, it could share your Wi-Fi passwords with routers, PC World reported. To turn Wi-Fi Sense off, go to Settings in the start menu, click on Network & Internet, then Manage Wi-Fi Settings, and chose what Wi-Fi you want to use. Turning off the hotspot keeps the computer from broadcasting your information.
Uninstalling Windows 10
Uninstalling Windows 10 and going back to Windows 8.1 or 7 is actually fairly easy – if you do it within 30 days. Visit Settings, find the Update & Security icon and click Recovery. You should see an option to “Go to Back to Windows 7” or “go back to Windows 8.1.” Click the right icon.
If it has been over a month since you added Windows 10, you will have to do a “clean install.” That will eliminate everything on your hard drive. Make sure you have all of your files on cloud storage or an external drive first.
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