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Here’s what data Windows 10 collects from you

You might not know it, but Windows 10 is secretly collecting data from you. Here’s all the info they’re gathering.

Windows 10 data collection
Image: Unsplash

Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10 has — and will always be — collecting user data from everyone that has it installed. That’s never going to change, and it probably won’t change for any future iterations of the Windows operating system either. Though companies benefit the most, there are perks for consumers.

For instance, you are going to see ads in social media feeds, basic analysis means you’ll see ads that you likely care about. If you are a car enthusiast, you likely want to see ads regarding cars rather than clothes. Analysis doesn’t mean apps, software and devices know where you are or what you’re doing at all times. It doesn’t mean they’re always recording your words or actions, either.

Sometimes, the information collected is remarkably basic and useless, while other times it’s much more incriminating, like what time you placed a call, to whom and how long it was. This type of information is called metadata and relates to mobile devices.

But, a new update that will be rolled out on April 11th, called the Creators Update, will show you exactly what data the company is keeping. The goal is to be more transparent about what data they’re collecting and perhaps even what they are doing with it.

As you’ll find out when the update launches, Microsoft separates the data they collect into separate categories. We’ll explore each one in detail so you can better understand what’s happening when you use the platform.

The Diagnostics Collection

Expect the diagnostics collection to be pretty standard, and a lot of companies collect diagnostic information about their platforms and users. Most modern applications need some form of network information or data collection in order to function properly, which means they are also monitoring personal data, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This kind of information tells Microsoft more about the Windows platform, how it operates and performs, and what kinds of events or bugs users might experience. Since every computer is different and includes different internal hardware, the specs of your system are the most important thing the diagnostics reporting system is collecting.

If you want to know exactly what the company is monitoring, you can see it on two recently published Technet pages. The diagnostics collection is separated into two levels: basic and full. There’s too much to go over with a fine comb, so if you’re interested, check out those Microsoft pages.

That said, the difference between the two levels is quite simple.

Basic diagnostics collect a “limited set of information” that happens to be “critical for understanding the device and its configuration” or, in other words, your computer. This includes security level information and measures the platform may be using to protect your system and personal data.

Full diagnostics, or the “full telemetry” level, collects “comprehensive examples of data” for various types of activities and events. This includes information like licensing and purchase data, browsing, search, and query data, software setup and inventory and much more. Ultimately, it’s more about how you use your system and what things you do within Windows 10.

Again, Microsoft claims they are not collecting this information to do anything shady, which presumably means they are not selling your information or data to partners and third-parties. Does that mean they won’t ever do it? No, not necessarily.

Privacy Data

Keep in mind, the new Creators Update will introduce something called the “privacy dashboard” where you can control access to the information we’re going to talk about in this section. Similar to a mobile device, you can turn on or off some of these settings.

For instance, current location information can be enabled or disabled, depending on how comfortable you feel with this data being shared. If it’s enabled, you’ll be able to use services like weather, directions, local business info and more.

The settings you can change in the privacy dashboard, which relates to more data Windows 10 may collect, include:

— Current Location
— Diagnostics
— Relevant Ads
— Speech Recognition with Cortana
— Tailored Experiences with Diagnostic Data

Can It Be Disabled?

Windows 10 is a lot more cloud-oriented than previous versions of the operating system, which explains why so many have privacy concerns. But the good news is the new update provides more control over what data Windows is collecting and what gets reported back to headquarters. The new privacy dashboard is definitely welcome and, finally, allows users to turn off some of the data reporting systems behind the scenes.

Still, it would be nice to have more transparency and control in relation to the diagnostics reporting but at least we’re that much closer.

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Kayla Matthews is a technology writer and blogger who runs Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

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