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Data protection under Windows 10

If you are looking for Windows 11 instructions, you can find these here.

Windows 10 analyses various personal data. Data affected here are for instance your e-mail address and contents of e-mails received and sent out, personal interests and favourites, purchase and payment data, your personal address book, etc.

Many of these data are also transmitted to Microsoft. Most of these data transmission mechanisms however can be switched off. On the one hand, you should consider certain criteria when first installing Windows 10; on the other, various settings can still be adjusted afterwards. Our instructions are meant to assist you with selecting the correct settings and to protect your data and all your private information in the best possible way.

We have tried to draw up as universally applicable a set of instructions for private users as possible. Nevertheless, the individual configuration options and settings may differ in specific cases. These instructions refer to the options available as at 15 February 2024.

Settings during Windows 10 installation

During any Windows 10 installation, you can already make some decisions regarding data protection. You will be asked how extensive you would like the amount of diagnostic data sent back to Microsoft to be. At this point, you can only choose between «Include as an option» and «Required only». To avoid Windows sending too many data to Microsoft unintentionally, please select «Required only».

After installation, you can personalise certain settings. Wait until Windows has finished installing, and then change your settings.

Settings after Windows 10 installation

Should you already have installed Windows 10, you can subsequently adjust settings in Windows. You will find the relevant menu under Start (Windows logo) > Settings (cog) > Privacy.

General

To protect your device against definite identification based on an advertising ID allocated by Windows, switch the first option «off».

You should leave the second option «on». This way, you ensure that websites are displayed in the language set as the Windows system language where possible.

The third option serves for local improvement of Windows and be left switched «on». Windows can launch apps in frequent use by you more quickly this way.

OptionOur recommendation
Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity (turning this off will reset your ID)Off
Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language listOn
Let Windows track apps launches to improve Start and search resultsOn
Show me suggested content in the Settings appOff

Speech

Windows and the Cortana voice assistant can analyse your voice and improve personal recommendations that way. Since this allows Windows 10 to spy on your calendar, contact data and similar, you should switch this option off.

OptionOur recommendation
Online speech recognitionOff

Inking & typing personalisation

Windows and the Cortana voice assistant can analyse your handwriting and improve personal recommendations that way. Since this allows Windows 10 to spy on your calendar, contact data and similar, you should switch this option off.

OptionOur recommendation
Getting to know youOff

Diagnostics & feedback

You cannot completely stop Microsoft from collecting any data. You can choose whether you would like to transmit few or plenty of data. To transmit as few data as possible, please select: «Required diagnostic data».

OptionOur recommendation
Diagnostic dataRequired diagnostic data
Improve inking and typingOff
Tailored experiencesOff
View diagnostic dataDepending on your requirements
Delete diagnostic dataDepending on your requirements
Feedback frequencyNever

Activity history

Windows analyses which applications you have been working with, and offers a history of your activities.

If you use a Microsoft account and have cloud synchronisation activated, this will allow you to access the same timeline on several devices. If you don’t want this, you should switch it off.

OptionOur recommendation
Store my activity history on this deviceOff
Show activities from these accountsDepending on your requirements
Clear activity historyDepending on your requirements

Location

Location is used by your device to send the location where you are using it to Microsoft. Location detection should be switched off.

If location detection is active, organizations other than Microsoft can establish your location, too – in particular if you allow apps to access your location.

Scroll down a little bit, and by clicking on the «Delete» button  any location data potentially submitted so far already can be removed from your device. Whether Microsoft will also then delete them, is not clear.

Should you have location activated anyway, you can enable or disable location detection for each of your installed apps individually as needed. Your location data will then potentially be passed on to the provider of all relevant apps you activate this for.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow apps to access your locationOff
DefaultDepending on your requirements
Location historyDepending on your requirements

Camera

Here you can stop every app automatically given access to your camera. Switch this option off.

Should you have a camera and would like to allow access to individual apps, you should do this for each app and enable or disable access for each one individually.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to the camera on this deviceOff

Microphone

Here you can stop every app automatically given access to your microphone Switch this option off.

Should you have a microphone and would like to allow access to individual apps, you should do this for each app and enable or disable access for each one individually.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to the microphone on this deviceOff

Voice activation

You can only change this setting if you have allowed access to a microphone above. If this is the case, you can determine whether certain apps are opened and are allowed to record your spoken words.

If you don’t want to control your device by your voice, you should switch everything off here.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow apps to use voice activationOff
Allow apps to use voice activation when this device is lockedOff

Notifications

You can basically enable or disable access to your notifications for all apps generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access for each app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to user notifications on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Account info

Since this access is primarily required for personalised advertising, it is recommended to switch this option off.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to account info on this deviceOff

Contacts

You can basically enable or disable access to your contacts for all apps generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access for each app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to contacts on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Calendar

You can basically enable or disable access to your calendar for all apps generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access for each app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to the calendar on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Phone calls

You can basically allow all apps access to your telephone calls or stop them from accessing them. In case you don’t want to prohibit access in general, you can allow or prohibit access for every individual app. You should only allow trustworthy apps such access.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow calls on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Call history

You can basically enable or disable access to your call history for all apps generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access to every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to call history on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Email

You can basically enable or disable access to your e-mail by all apps generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access to every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to e-mails on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Tasks

You can basically enable or disable access to your tasks by all apps generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access to every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to tasks on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Messaging

You can basically enable or disable access by all apps to your messages (SMS or MMS) generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access to every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to messaging on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Radios

You can basically enable or disable access to your radios (Bluetooth, etc.) by all apps generally. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access to every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to radios on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Other devices

An automatic exchange of information, for instance inside a public Wi-Fi network, poses a serious security risk. You should therefore switch this option off.

Please note however that contactless payments using a smartphone (under Windows 10 mobile) are no longer possible this way.

OptionOur recommendation
Communicate with unpaired devicesOff

Background apps

Microsoft terms a program a «background app» if it always remains up-to-date, even if you are not actively using it. Withdrawing this right from an app can help you save power. Particularly with mobile devices, this will make for a longer battery life. However, these settings have nothing to do with data protection. You can set this option as required by you.

OptionOur recommendation
Background AppsDepending on your requirements

App diagnostics

As per their default settings, apps also transmit many diagnostic data to Microsoft. It is recommended to switch this option «off».

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to app diagnostic info on this deviceOff

Automatic file downloads

Has been deactivated as per your settings above.

Documents

You can enable or disable access to your document libraries by all apps overall. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access by every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to document libraries on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Pictures

You can enable or disable access to your picture libraries by all apps overall. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access by every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to picture libraries on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Videos

You can enable or disable access to your video libraries by all apps overall. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access by every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to video libraries on this deviceDepending on your requirements

File system

You can enable or disable access to all your files, including your documents, images, videos and local OneDrive files, overall. If you don’t want to generally stop all access, you can enable or disable access by every app individually. Access should only be granted to trustworthy apps.

OptionOur recommendation
Allow access to the file system on this deviceDepending on your requirements

Data protection dashboard

To guarantee the transparency of all data collected, Microsoft offers a data protection dashboard which lists all information stored. You can also delete these details as long as you are logged in via a Microsoft account. Your data protection dashboard is available via «Privacy», «General», «Learn more about your privacy options» or via this link: https://account.microsoft.com/privacy

Microsoft account

You can use a Microsoft account to log into several Microsoft services. Amongst other things, this includes the online Office 365 software, the OneDrive cloud service, Teams and phone service and the Xbox Live games platform.

The advantage offered by a Microsoft account is that you are able to log into all Microsoft services using just a single e-mail address and password. You therefore don’t have to set up and remember several different user names and passwords. In addition, a Microsoft account facilitates the use of multiple Windows devices: Your activity history, cache, OneDrive plus various settings such as WLAN connections are automatically synchronised on all devices on which you log into your Microsoft account.

The drawback of a Microsoft account is data protection issues. You should be aware that Microsoft also collects data via your account: Locations, calendar entries, search queries, your browser history etc. These data are then for instance used to display suitable, personalised advertisements to you. If you don’t want this, it is better to use a local account.

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