Are you a privacy-conscious person? Well, that’s good! Privacy is one of the critical things that most people are worried about in this post-modern era. But there is no need to worry about it. Setting up proper privacy settings and taking preventive measures can help you prevent gadgets and technologies from spying on you (to a certain degree!).
Microsoft Windows 11 just came out recently, and people have received it with pleasure. But one thing that you might not have known is that Windows 11 talks back to Microsoft and shares data about the user behaviors and details regarding their PCs. Microsoft even knows the exact GPS location of your PC and several other details such as applications you use, websites your visit, the music you listen to, etc. And to be honest, most of us would not be proud to have such details publicized. To help you, today, we’ll show you how to stop Windows 11 from spying on you.
- Methods to Stop Windows 11 from Spying
- 1. Clear Data from Privacy Dashboard
- 2. Delete the Diagnostic Data
- 3. Limit the Data Shared with Microsoft
- 4. Set up a Local Account
- 5. Tweak the Windows Security
- 6. Turn off Your Device Location
- 7. Turn off Personalized Ads
- 8. Tweak the Speech, Inking, and Typing
- 9. Turn off App Permissions
- 10. Turn on Random Hardware Addresses
- 11. Make use of Third-Party Tools
- Enjoy the Power of True Privacy
Methods to Stop Windows 11 from Spying
Here are 12 great methods to prevent Windows 11 from sharing your data to Microsoft servers. Also, you’ll learn how to remove the already shared data from Microsoft servers.
1. Clear Data from Privacy Dashboard
The privacy dashboard is one of the places where you can see all the data Microsoft has about you. You can head to the privacy dashboard, log in with your Microsoft account, and view the following types of data they’ve tracked down about you.
- Location activity
- Speech activity
- Browsing history
- Search history
- Media activity
- App and service activity
- App and service performance data
- Ad settings, etc.
Navigate to each one of them and clear the data that are already tracked about you.
2. Delete the Diagnostic Data
Microsoft allows you to view the diagnostic data that is shared with their servers. To view those data, use these steps:
- Go to Settings > Privacy & security > Diagnostics & feedback. [or Open Diagnostics & feedback]
- Turn on Diagnostic Data Viewer. You can also see the data by clicking on the Diagnostic data viewer button next to it. In case you don’t have that, you can install it from the Microsoft store.
- You can delete those data by clicking the ‘Delete diagnostic data’ option and then Delete.
If you check the Diagnostic data viewer, you may think that there is a hell of information that is tracked and shared with the servers. If you are not comfortable sharing all those data, you can limit it with a simple setting.
- Go to the Diagnostic and feedback window.
- Turn off the toggle for ‘Send optional diagnostic data’.
4. Set up a Local Account
Setting up a local account means that all your data will be stored locally on your computer and won’t be shared with Microsoft. If you value your privacy, this may be your best bet. However, it comes with some downsides as well. You will lose access to various Microsoft services such as OneDrive. If you log on to another computer, you won’t be able to access your files from the OneDrive servers.
To set up a local account, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings > Accounts > Your info and then click Sign in with a local account instead. Enter your credentials and sign in.
5. Tweak the Windows Security
If you don’t care about Microsoft’s Virus and threat protection assistance, you can turn off the related cloud protection and automatic sample submission. Both these features share data with Microsoft, and it’s likely to include your personal information. To turn off these features, use these steps:
- Navigate to Settings > Privacy & security > Windows security.
- Click on Virus and threat protection.
- Under the virus and threat protection settings, click on the link that says Manage settings.
- Now turn off the toggle for Cloud-delivered protection and Automatic sample submission.
6. Turn off Your Device Location
The obvious benefit of this feature is that if you lose your device, you’ll be able to go into the privacy dashboard and see exactly where it is. On the other hand, if your device is with you, the data also says your exact location. So it’s, in fact, a privacy issue. And, if you don’t care for that, you can turn it off by using these steps:
- Go to Settings > Privacy & security >Find my device.
- Now turn off the toggle next to the Find my device option.
7. Turn off Personalized Ads
Back in the Privacy and security options, you can do some other settings: turn off the personalized ads, your language list access, App launch tracking, etc. For all the said features, your data and behavior is tracked. To turn this off,
- Go to Settings > Privacy & security > General. Then turn off the toggle for each of the features that you want to disable.
8. Tweak the Speech, Inking, and Typing
The next option is to turn the Online speech recognition features that listen to your speech and share them with their servers to process and use for development purposes. If you want to disable this, you can follow the below steps.
- Go to Settings > Privacy & security > Speech.
- Turn of the toggle for ‘Online speech recognition’.
Note that if you turn off the online speech recognition, you won’t be able to use apps that use Microsoft’s online speech recognition technology. However, you can still use the Windows Speech recognition app and other speech services that don’t use Microsoft’s online speech recognition technology.
Similarly, you can also turn off the inking and typing tracking feature available at Settings > Privacy & security > Inking and typing personalization.
9. Turn off App Permissions
Another thing that concerns your privacy is your app permissions. For example, if you have enabled the permission to access your location for Microsoft’s (and others) apps, they can track you. Like this, different apps can access your camera, microphone, calendar, etc., to get your personal information. To avoid this type of privacy issue, turn off the app permissions one by one. Just go through these steps to accomplish the same.
- Go to Settings > Privacy & security.
- Scroll down and come to the ‘App permissions’ section.
- Click on each of the services (like Camera, Location, etc.) and turn them off.
10. Turn on Random Hardware Addresses
Next, we are going to shift categories. Here we are going to the Network & internet settings to enable random hardware addresses to help protect your privacy by making it harder for people to track your device location. To do this:
- Go to Settings > Network & internet.
- Click on Wi-Fi, and at the very bottom, click on Random hardware addresses.
When you search for Wi-Fi signals, it will share your physical hardware address or your MAC address. And people can use this to track you. But if you randomize it, it makes it harder to track your activities.
11. Make use of Third-Party Tools
Those are all the different ways you can limit what should back with Microsoft from directly within Windows. But there are also third-party tools that you can use to ensure your privacy.
In the case of browser, you can use the Brave browser for browsing the internet privately. Also, you can use a tool called Spybot Anti-Beacon (paid). With just one click, you can turn off all data sharing with Microsoft, including the required diagnostic information.
Enjoy the Power of True Privacy
Now that you’ve learned almost all the possible methods to stop Windows 11 from spying on you. You can now enjoy the freedom of true privacy with peace of mind. Once you follow all the above-explained methods, Microsoft will no longer access your data and use it for personalized ads and other services. Using tools like Diagnostic Data Viewer and Privacy Dashboard, you can even track down what all data is already shared with Microsoft servers and delete it if you wish.
Comment your views and opinions regarding how you care about your online privacy and how you combat privacy issues if you have any.