What Data Windows 10 Send to Microsoft? - GoTechTalk

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

What Data Windows 10 Send to Microsoft?

What Data Windows 10 Send to Microsoft?


So those agreements allowing software companies to collect anonymous usage data they don't exactly give a ton of detail on what exactly is in this data in some cases, is it truly anonymous and benign or is Tim Cook sitting somewhere keeping track of the not-so-nice things you've been saying about their air pods. 



Well it actually varies from agreement to agreement and despite the lead-off apple joke today's focus is on one of the most common pieces of software that phones home, Microsoft Windows 10 which caught criticism shortly after it was released due to the fact that it was nearly impossible for users to fully turn off its data collection features even if they opted out of Cortana and location tracking and didn't create a cloud-based Microsoft account. 




So we're a 3years down the line and I'm pleased to inform you that everything is still there and no option to prevent Microsoft from collecting telemetry data, so what is your PC definitely sending to Microsoft as long as it has an internet connection then well the lowest setting you can choose when adjusting your telemetry preferences is basic which will give Microsoft information about your hardware configuration so if you've built yourself a custom PC Microsoft likely knows what components you have inside on the software side the basic option allows the OS to send information about Windows Store activity program crashes and even usage time presumably so they can identify issues that cause instability but this also means that they might know what specific programs your machine is running though not you personally, since Microsoft's privacy policy promises users that they don't tie any of that data to an actual person. 




Selecting the full telemetry option will provide Microsoft with data as specific as songs you're listening to video URLs if you're watching a movie and it glitches out local searches that you run when you're trying to find specific files content licenses disk space things you type into the search box in your browser or in Cortana browsing history and even ink strokes if you're using a smart-pen in other words that is a lot of stuff that Microsoft will have their paws on there's also a chance that because the full level sends memory dumps to Microsoft they could see at least fragments of whatever you were working on at that time and Microsoft even says that typing input could be used to reconstruct the original content or associate the input to the user meaning they are straight up saying that they could tie your activity to your real name or not now of course maybe you're already consenting to this kind of data collection and you don't really care if Microsoft servers see your browsing history because you're a big fan of Cortana's custom features but what if you're not that kind of person you don't want to be spied on well the obvious thing to do is make sure that you have your telemetry settings switched to basic but unfortunately there's no way to turn it off completely if you aren't running an enterprise version of Windows a bit of comforting news is that there have been documented specific cases where Microsoft was honestly using this collected data to fix legitimate problems such as a widespread issue with how a graphics driver was crashing Windows 10 back in 2015 so there probably isn't some snoop but there have also been cases where huge tech firms have been caught collecting data on customers even if they specifically opted out and Microsoft also recently announced a tool called the diagnostic data viewer which will allow you to know exactly what's being sent and while the tool does seem to be pretty thorough the data also appears as these complicated looking raw data logs that might be difficult for the mainstream user to understand so perhaps one day we'll get more transparency and user choice as to how and whether we share data with big companies but until then maybe the Linux crowd really is on to something. 

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