Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Protecting your Privacy when Upgrading to Windows 10 (What you Missed if you Accepted the Default Upgrade)

Using a Windows machine running any operating system other than Windows 10 means the update icon has likely been aggressively working to get you to upgrade for months now.  If and when you decide to update, there are a few things to know before you begin. First, it is important to be sure the Windows updater thinks your device is compatible.  Second, as with any upgrade, it is important to have a backup copy of all files on a secondary device or location.

Lastly, choosing the customize settings install versus the express settings install provides access to security and privacy settings.  Reading over these settings and modifying them during the upgrade process allows more control over how activities are shared, what kinds of WiFi networks are connected to automatically, and if your device gets and shares Windows updates with other computers on the Internet.  Yes, you read that correctly, whether or not your computer connects with other computers to share updates.

Accessing Customizable Settings when Upgrading to Windows 10
Access the customizable settings early in the Windows 10 upgrade process from the "Get Going Fast" screen.  Instead of selecting the express settings, click the "Customize Settings" link in small print in the bottom left corner of the page.  

At each Customize Settings screen, disable any of the options as desired.  By default all settings are enabled.  When all options have been appropriately modified, click "Next".  Once the last customize settings screen is configured, click Next and the install process will continue.  Listed below are the categories of options presented in the Customize Settings windows and what each one does.


  • Let contact and calendar details be sent to Microsoft for speech and typing.
  • Let typing and inking data be sent to Microsoft.
  • Let apps use your advertising ID across apps.
  • Let Skype connect you to friends in your address book.
  • Let Windows apps request your location including location history as well as send this data to Microsoft and trusted partners for Find My Device features.

Connectivity and error reporting
  • Let your device automatically connect to suggested open hotspots.
  • Let your device automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts.
  • Let your device automatically connect to any hotspot to see if paid WiFi is available.
  • Let your device send full error and diagnostic information to Microsoft.

Browser, protection, and update
  • Let SmartScreen services protect against malicious content and downloads loaded by Windows browsers and Store apps.
  • Let your browsing data be sent to Microsoft for the purposes of page prediction to speed up browsing in Windows browsers.
  • Let your device get updates from and send updates to other computers on the Internet to speed up app and Windows updates.

If a device has already been updated to Windows 10 with the express settings, there is still a way to change the privacy settings shown above.  To access these security settings post upgrade, go to the start menu of a Windows 10 device and open Settings.  Inside the settings menu, open the Privacy category.  Privacy settings provide several categories that can each be clicked on to learn about and customize multiple privacy settings available in Windows 10.  Browse through the different categories to make changes, then once all settings have been modified, close the Privacy window.

Windows 10 has a large amount of privacy settings that can be configured, many of which can be customized during the upgrade process to save time later. Using the customize link during setup provides access to many features that often go unknown to users when the express or default upgrade / install is used.  In the absence of setting these during the upgrade, use the privacy settings menu to access and modify the default privacy settings. 

As always, knowing where and how to modify settings for your unique preferences is key.  In the case of upgrading to Windows 10, verifying what kinds of information you might be sharing without your knowledge is easy and worth the effort!

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