Which companies are using Windows 10

Increase data protection in Windows 10

Open data protection settings

Click on the Windows logo at the bottom left and then on the gear wheel in the left bar ("Settings"). Then click on "Data protection". Now we go through the individual menu items.

The use of the advertising ID should be deactivated. Why? This ID is used to store, for example, which products you are interested in on the computer and what you look at on the Internet. If you then open an app such as Twitter, you will be shown the appropriate advertising based on the information collected in Twitter. This means that Twitter now also knows which products you are interested in.

For similar reasons, we recommend switching the following items to Off: "Allow websites to access their own language list" and "Allow Windows to track the launch of apps".

Speech recognition, freehand and input customization

At Apple it's called Siri, at Microsoft it's called Cortana: the computer can be controlled with voice and handwriting. However, this harbors enormous data protection risks: In order for Cortana to understand what you are saying, all spoken words are sent to Microsoft servers and analyzed there. From there, Cortana is told what to do. If you do not want to control your computer by voice, turn off the voice recognition services and input suggestions.

Windows can also save locally which words you have typed on your PC or - provided you are using a suitable input device such as a graphics tablet - in its own dictionary. This means that the data remains on your device for the time being. We cannot check whether the collected information will go to Microsoft. If you do not want Windows to create a dictionary, switch this function off as well.

We recommend the "Standard" setting ("Simple" for older versions): Microsoft receives less information about your user behavior. You should switch off "Improve ink and input recognition" if you do not control your device by voice or pen. The "Individual User Experience" controls whether you get to see advertising or tips on using the program from Microsoft while working with Windows, for example. Switch this function off if you do not want that.

If you want to know exactly which data is saved by Windows 10 as "diagnostic data", you can activate the "diagnostic data display". To see the data, an additional program from the Microsoft Store must be installed. You can also remove your diagnostic data using the "Delete" button.

For "Feedback frequency" we recommend the setting "Never" so that Microsoft cannot automatically and unnoticed retrieve your usage data.

Under Recommended troubleshooting, you can select "Ask me before I fix". You then need to decide how to fix Windows 10 if necessary.

Windows 10 offers you to create a list of websites you have visited and programs that have been run, which you can access later to continue your work. If you want that, you can leave the check mark next to "Save my activity history on this device". If you don't want that, remove it.

The operating system also offers to send the list to Microsoft. This can be useful if you are working on multiple devices with Windows 10. For example, do you start a letter on a tablet and want to continue writing it on a computer? If not and if you only use one device with Windows 10, you should uncheck "Send my activity history to Microsoft". Further down in the window you can also arrange for any activities that have already been recorded to be deleted.

With position detection, your device sends to Microsoft wherever you are using it. So if you don't want Microsoft to be able to find out where you are at the moment, turn off position detection using the "Change" button. If the detection is already switched off, this is indicated in a sentence above the button.

If the position detection is active, other companies besides Microsoft can also determine your location. This is especially possible if you allow apps to access your location.

If you scroll down a bit, you can click on the "Delete" button to remove any previously sent position data on the device. It is unclear whether this will also delete them from Microsoft.

If you have activated the position history, when you scroll down again you can specify individual programs (apps) that may or may not work with your position data. Your location data may then be sent to the providers of the respective apps and possibly also to other people or companies.

If your device has a camera, you can specify here whether it should be active and which programs you can use. This is important for video chats like Skype, for example. If you do not need the camera at the moment, it should be switched off for safety reasons. In the list below, you can specify for individual programs whether they are generally allowed to use the camera or not.

Here, too, as with the camera setting, you can specify which app is allowed to use your microphone. If you don't need it at the moment, it is best to switch it off.

You can only make the settings in this menu item if you allow access to a microphone in the menu item beforehand. If this is the case, you can determine whether certain applications are opened and allowed to record your spoken words. You can also set here whether apps should react with certain words when the computer is locked.

Below you can individually allow or forbid apps that use voice input to react to keywords. By default, Cortana is only listed if you haven't installed any other appropriate software.

If you do not want to control your PC by voice, you should switch everything off here.

Here you set which apps are allowed to access the notification function of your device. This could be, for example, small information at the bottom right of the screen. If you don't want any app to show you any notification, set the switch to "Off".

If you have an account with Microsoft, you have given information about yourself there too. This can be, for example, your name, your date of birth or your e-mail address. You can decide whether your device should access this information.
Should other apps be allowed to access it? If not, switch the function off completely. Alternatively, you can decide for individual programs which are allowed to access your account information and which are not.

Which program is allowed to use the data of the saved contacts? The mail application must be allowed to, because otherwise it cannot use any saved e-mail addresses from the contact directory. Other programs, especially those you are not familiar with, should not be allowed to do this. Because remember: It is other people's data that you are distributing to companies!

Calendar, phone calls, call history, email, tasks, messaging

The same game as with the contacts: In the different menu items you can set which app is calendar entries, the phone function and call list (only relevant for smartphones), the e-mail program, tasks and messaging (messages such as SMS and MMS, only relevant for Smartphones) may use or create. You can specify in the same way which applications should have access to all of the points mentioned and should only grant this access if you know the application and it absolutely needs access.

Apps should only be allowed to control radio reception if it is absolutely necessary.

To find out which data connections are currently active on the computer, click on the speech bubble symbol in the bar at the bottom right. To get the full menu, you may have to click on "Expand". There you will see tiles such as "Network" and "Bluetooth" (if your device has a Bluetooth module). If a function is active, its font is displayed in white. If the module of the function is off, the font on the tile is gray.

You should deactivate communicating with devices that are not paired so that your PC or laptop cannot exchange data unnoticed with other devices (e.g. via Bluetooth).

You should only allow apps to synchronize data between the Windows 10 device and others if you trust the programs and know what is happening to your data.

Which programs are allowed to exchange data in the background and unnoticed by you? You can set this here for each individual app or switch it off completely.

Which app is allowed to access the diagnostic data that Windows collects while you work? Or diagnostic data compiled by other programs on your device? You can determine that at this point. If no app should be allowed to access it at all, click the "Change" button and change the little blue slider to "Off".

Automatic file downloads

There are essentially two ways to save files: On the device you are working with or on a data carrier connected to it (e.g. USB stick) or on a cloud (online storage). If you work with programs that save files in the cloud (e.g. text files), you can allow Windows to automatically download such files to your computer in the background. This can be useful, for example, if you work with several devices and your PC or laptop should always make the files that were created on other devices available on its own drive.

Documents, pictures, videos, file system

In these menu items you can determine whether Windows programs are allowed to access the corresponding file types, following the pattern known from above. You can forbid this across the board for all file types or you can allow or deny access for individual apps further down in the window.

Synchronize settings

We are now done in the "Data Protection" menu. So click in the top left of the window on the little house labeled "Home". This will take you back to the Windows settings overview.

You can send your browser settings, wallpaper, and a few more to Microsoft so that everything is the same on other devices too. However, if you don't need this or if you only use one device, switch off the synchronization. To do this, click on Accounts. With "Synchronize settings" (last point in the left menu bar) you switch off the synchronization settings completely.

Last but not least, you can set up your user account so that you do not always log on to a Microsoft server after starting the Windows computer. We recommend this if you do not need to exchange files between several Windows devices. If you use your device with a local account, a server is not contacted directly every time it is started. To do this, click in the account settings on "Your Info" (first point in the left menu bar) and there on "Log in with a local account instead". After entering your current password, complete the fields for the new account.