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How to change your Windows 10 privacy settings

Windows 10 has plenty of privacy options to manage your data with, but they're easy to miss.

How to change your Windows 10 privacy settings

If you’ve recently updated your PC or laptop to Windows 10, you may be feeling rather pleased that it went without a hitch despite a degree of trepidation.

However, if you weren’t paying attention during set-up, you may also have unintentionally accepted some changes to your privacy settings, including letting advertisers target you directly, and sharing your internet connection with others.

In this guide, we show you how to take control of your Windows 10 privacy settings and keep yourself protected.

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First installation

During your installation of Windows 10, you’ll be offered Express Settings as a way for Windows to proceed without any interference from yourself. There’s also a slightly less obvious Customise Settings option, where you have more of a say in the information that Microsoft collects about you.

Choose this, and you can prevent it gathering personal data such as contacts and calendar information, as well as your location data, which it could share with third parties. Just select the options you think you feel comfortable with – and don’t fret if you missed it the first time, you can still make these changes later on.

After installation

Once installed, you can access the Privacy settings in the Control Panel to make further changes. To do so, click on the Windows icon in the bottom left corner of the desktop, and select the Settings option. There are a couple of options here, but we’ll start with Privacy by clicking the blue padlock icon.

Under General, you’ll probably want to turn off Advertising ID, which uses data about you to target specific adverts.

Take your time to go through the other categories and decide what information you are happy to share. They’re all fairly self explanatory, and give you a lot of control. You can even select different options for individual apps, if you want to – for example, what programs you want to be able to access your calendar.

Wi-Fi Sense

Wi-Fi Sense is Microsoft’s solution to easily connecting to Wi-Fi networks that have been shared by people in your contacts list. In theory, this means you’ll no longer need to ask for your friends’ Wi-Fi passwords when visiting, assuming you’ve all selected this option. The Wi-Fi password is encrypted, so you’ll never be able to see it, but it’s not possible to select which individuals to share it with, only groups.

Select this option for Facebook, for example, and all of your Facebook friends will be able to use your network – that could be a worry if not all your friends are close ones, or perhaps if you live close to each other and you don’t want them hogging your bandwidth any time they like.

Sharing networks is limited to internet access only – your contacts won’t be able to browse your files or access your computer – but if you’re uncomfortable with the idea, it can easily be turned off.

Under Settings, go to Network & Internet, and then Manage Wi-Fi settings. Turn off the Connect to networks shared by contacts option.

Sharing your bandwith

A lot of people have downloaded Windows 10, and all of these people will need to download the regular future updates. To reduce the strain on its own servers, Microsoft has enlisted the help of its users. This means that while you’re downloading the latest update, you could also be sending it to the next user, using your own bandwith. This peer-to-peer system can be a quick way to distribute files, but if you’re not on an unlimited data broadband plan, it could spell bad news.

The good news is that you can turn it off. Under Settings, select Update & Security, and then Windows Update. Click Advanced Options , and then Choose how updates are delivered. Toggle the button to ‘off’ to stop sharing your bandwith.

A lot of the data sharing options in Windows 10 may appear slightly worrying on the surface, but it’s a good reminder to always spend a few minutes checking what you’re signing up for whenever you install a program, download an app or sign up to a new online service or website.

Windows 10 gives users a lot of control over how their data is shared, but the onus is on them to adjust the settings for themselves and the default options won’t be ideal for everyone.

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