A quick guide to stop Microsoft from collecting your data

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
Radu Tyrsina has been a Windows fan ever since he got his first PC, a Pentium III (a monster at that time). For most of the kids of his age, the Internet was an... Read more
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block microsoft activity

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Yesterday’s news about Microsoft collecting data, even when unauthorised to do so, has left many Windows 10 users unsure about how to stop Microsoft from collecting their data.

Never fear. Windows Report is here to help you navigate the minefield that is Microsoft Privacy Settings.

Steps to block Microsoft Activity history

How to check Activity history settings

First thing you need to do is go to Settings > Privacy > Activity history, and see what your settings are. The “Let Windows collect my activities from this PC” was checked, even though I am pretty sure I didn’t check it, because I don’t like sharing anything.

Anyway, you need to decide what data you want to give Microsoft, and check the boxes you are happy to check. Or you can leave them both unchecked as I have.

Active History Settings

Now you should go into all the App permissions and turn the ones off that you want. This should mean that the only data your PC is sending to Microsoft is the data you want. If only it were that simple.

However, you may be surprised to hear that this is not enough to keep Microsoft from snooping on you. Read on to find out what else you need to do.

App Permissions

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Check your account settings online

If you head over to your activity history in your Microsoft Account page, you will see all the data that Microsoft has been collecting on you. The first thing you’ll want to do is clear it. You will probably get some sort of warning like this:

Clearing History Warning

If you think about the two warnings above, they don’t really make sense. I ignored them and cleared everything. If you some how feel that your fixing you issues may be hindered or your experiences less relevant, then you can choose not to clear your data; the option is yours.

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By the way, when the warning notice popped up, it was shaking like it was having some sort of fit. Anyone else have the same experience? I wonder if it’s a glitch, or it’s there to try and scare people into pressing the ‘Don’t clear’ button.

What had Microsoft Activity history been collected?

There was quite a lot of data that had been collected. However, I have to say that it did seem a bit random. When I used Skype, there was a record, which makes some sense as Microsoft owns Skype.

My browsing history was sparse (as I had not given permission to track my internet use), but Microsoft appeared to be very interested in my Netflix viewing, as there was a record of that.

Make sure to check your ads settings

Anyway, you’ll need to go through everything, turning off anything you are uncomfortable with. As you can see below, you will also need to turn off the ads settings even if you had disabled that on your PC.

Now, I know that I had turned those settings off on my PC because I did an article a couple of weeks ago showing you exactly how to do it. So, Microsoft knew I didn’t want personalised ads showing up and didn’t want Microsoft tracking my internet use. Yet on my account settings in the website, it showed that I did want Microsoft to track my internet use show me personalised ads.

Browser Ads

As you can see above and below, I have now unselected the two options.

Wrapping it all up

You should finally be set up the way you want things to be set up. And I know a lot of people are asking what all the fuss is about. The usual comment is, “I don’t do anything wrong so I don’t care if they track me”, but that’s not the point.

The point is that Microsoft et al. do not have the right to collect your data without your permission. Your data has value. If it didn’t, companies like Facebook and Google would have little value, instead of being two of the most valuable companies on the planet. Why shouldn’t we hold Microsoft to the same standards as Facebook and Google?

Tell us what you think. Do you care that Microsoft is collecting your data? Or are you one of the people who are more relaxed about these things? Let us know your thoughts below.


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