Microsoft’s Windows 10 & 11 operating systems collect a large amount of data from your PC. They claim to do so to provide you with a better user experience. However, there are ways to limit this data collection and improve your overall privacy with some third party add-on tools.
Users are becoming more concerned about privacy and are seeking ways to ensure their data is protected. Over the last few years, this has been an increasing trend due to several cyber security breaches in both large and small companies.
However, there is one area of concern that many users overlook when it comes to privacy: the operating system on their PC. Data collection has become big business for players like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Even though Windows can be set up to improve privacy, operating systems are by their very nature designed to collect data.
The ability to limit this collection of data has become increasingly complex over the last few releases of Windows OS. This is because Windows collects a lot more data than previous versions. When Windows was first released, users could configure what types of information could be collected.
This presents issues for some users who want more control over what information is gathered from their PC when they connect it to the internet or share files with other PCs on a network.
What data is Windows collecting?
Windows operating systems collect a wide range of information from user PCs. Much of this data is used to help windows personalize your PC experience, but some may question Windows’s need to collect that particular data type.
Some of the information Windows collects includes:
- Websites you visit often or frequently for use in windows search results.
- Information about your contacts, including contact details when they send emails via Windows mail app.
- Information about how you interact with windows, including files opened using windows explorer, the contents of your text messages, and actions taken within certain games or apps installed on your PC.
- Details about what type of hardware you own such as printers, scanners, webcams.
- Identifying details like your name and picture.
This can be useful to Windows but can be very intrusive for windows users who want more privacy.
Fortunately, some third party tools have emerged that give users the ability to gain back control of their privacy. One such tool is O&O ShutUp10++. This tool is completely free of charge and can be used to deactivate unwanted data collection.
Installing and Running O&O ShutUp10++
To install O&O ShutUp10++, head over to their website and click the download button. Save the file on your desktop or a location where you can access it when needed, as you may need to access it again in the future.
Double click the application to run it. The application should run as Administrator but in case it does not you may need to right click and choose “Run as Administrator”
Upon running the program, you will see an extensive range of toggle options. The quickest and easiest way to set the best privacy options is to use the recommended settings:
From the Actions menu, choose “Apply only recommended settings.”
You will be prompted to create a system restore point. Click “Yes.” It is vital to make a Windows system restoration point so that if any changes need to be reverted, it can be done easily.
After creating the restore point, O&O ShutUp10++ will apply the recommended settings – this is a very quick process.
You may be prompted to reboot your computer before the settings can take effect, so go ahead and reboot, and then your PC will now have the recommended privacy settings.
Advanced settings for more privacy
If you want to obtain even more privacy protection, there are some more options available to increase your privacy protection. You will need to be careful with these settings as some of these options may interfere with some of the features of Windows.
To enable more protection click the Actions menu and choose:
“Recommended and somewhat recommended settings.”
Or, for ultimate protection, choose “Apply all settings,” however, I do not recommend you select this option as it can block access to webcams, microphones and even stop future Windows updates from installing.
Check your privacy settings regularly
You should schedule routine checks of the privacy settings that have been applied with O&O ShutUp10++, as some of the settings can be reset when Windows downloads and installs operating system updates.
Issues with webcams and microphones
One of the problems that can occur when setting too many privacy restrictions is that it can prevent access to your webcam and microphone, impacting your ability to use video conferencing software such as Zoom.
You may need to recheck these settings in O&O ShutUp10++ manually and disable the restriction on these features:
The changes applied with O&O ShutUp10++ will be sufficient to protect your privacy using Windows 10 or even Windows 11. As long as you revisit the settings now and then and install O&O ShutUp10++ updates, you will keep your privacy settings secure.