“Solving” the Windows 10 privacy conundrum

A few weeks ago, the fine folks at Microsoft finally rolled out a new version of their flagship product: Windows 10. In an effort to stay updated I decided to grab the upgrade as soon as it was available, a dangerous idea as some people could attest.

This new version comes with a refreshed theme for the GUI, a new icon theme (which I find to be reminiscent of some old 95 style icons), what seems to be a lot of usability improvements, a voice activated assistant and a lot of “cloud enabled” features the kids like these days.

Among all this new stuff are many features that may pose a security and privacy risk. Most of them have to do with telemetry and how the OS handles and shares updates among users.

Many of said features have been dissected by users on places like reddit. With a better knowledge of these features came the ways to disable or impeach them. This something you may want to do and this is what the article is all about.

Automated configuration tool

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for little tools to be develop to deal with the unwanted feature of this new Windows version. Without further ado, here are two:

DisableWinTracking

Hosted on GitHub, this open source python script will allows you to take care the most harmful things Windows 10 does behind your back.

The easiest way to use it is to grab the latest version on release page here.

elevated

Download it, run it as administrator, select the stuff you want to disable and you’re done. It’s as easy as that really.

private

DoNotSpy10

This freeware is closed source but seems to offer more granularity. Unlike DisableWinTracking I haven’t personally tried it, but I stumbled upon a detailed article detailing its use.

Reset Windows 10

Additionally, I really have to mention the new “Reset Feature” introduced in this version. It basically allows you to replace the current instance of Windows 10 you’re running with a fresh image. Be warned however, that if you upgraded from a previous windows version this will get rid of the option that allows you to roll back. It’s a great way to get back some free space right after the upgrade and start up “fresh”.

Simply search for the “reset this PC” option.

reset

You will be asked for instructions on what you want to wipe out. The tool will also warn you of possible data loss. Don’t forget to do a backup before going too far. Depending of the options you pick, some of your personal data may be erased purposefully.

Final comment

As a form of conclusion, it should be said that if you care about your privacy you’re probably not using windows in the first place or have strict policies regarding sensitive work on your machine. However, if you are not, you may want to migrate your sensitive workflow on an OS you can trust.

Chances are, if you’re like me, you’re still keeping a Windows partition up to date for more pragmatic reasons. In any case, nothing beats common sense, even for privacy matters.

Addendum

It seems that DisablewinTracking is no longer supported and has been made obsolete by recent updates of Windows 10. As a replacement, you should probably consider using BetterPrivacy. It’s Open Source too and more suited to the more recent revisions of Windows 10.



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