What is Windows 10 Tracking on Your Computer and Should You Be Worried?

Windows 10

In a bit of a turn up for the books, and as a part of the ‘What’s next for Tame Geek‘ story, we’re happy to announce our first guest post.

I’m grateful that TameGeek.co.uk has decided to share my guest post with their readers. Their site covers topics that can be important and entertaining, as well as educational. If you’re thinking of purchasing a new car, you should definitely browse through the reviews they have to offer, but since this article is on the topic of technology, I would highly suggest that you take a look at Tame Geek’s article for tips to stay safe online.

With a modern interface, apps, and new capabilities, Windows 10 has a lot to offer. Since it’s also free to download at the moment, it’s hard to refuse. If you’ve been using Windows 8, it could be that you’re especially ready to upgrade and never look back (many Windows 8 users showed dissatisfaction with their OS).

Though Windows 10 seems to be a lot better compared to Windows 8, there are still some issues with it. For starters, there could be some programs that are not yet compatible with it. But that’s not the main problem.

The main concern is that Windows 10 could be tracking your activities. With new features, comes a new set of agreements. Just as on your smartphone, the apps will require access to specific information, some of which you might not feel comfortable sharing.

If you’re using the default privacy settings instead of looking through them yourself, you could be giving away personal information about most of your online activities. To prevent this from happening and allow you to make an informed decision as to whether or not upgrading is the best option for you, let’s take a look at what Windows 10 is actually tracking on your computer.

Your Voice

Windows 10 offers a seemingly cool personal assistant that is similar to the one Apple uses. Known as Cortana, Windows 10 users will be able to take advantage of having their own A.I. assistant who can search for answers for them, keep track of their contacts and calendar events, and even send emails or text messages on their behalf. Cortana comes along with her own set of security risks though, as she picks up on your voice and “gets to know you” so she can better assist you.

So what’s the risk in allowing her to hear your voice? Well, Microsoft has access to it so everything you say and ask for is being collected and can be shared if Microsoft decides it’s necessary. Plus, your voice is not the only thing Cortana picks up on.

Your Writing

Cortana keeps track of your writing and typing habits as well. If you ever use your actual handwriting for anything on your computer or Windows phone (maybe for an app?), it’s now on file with Microsoft. Your typical style of typing is kept track of as well. Of course these things might seem somewhat insignificant to some, but just think about Microsoft being able to piece the bits of information you give together. Now they will have a file on who you are, what your voice sounds like, what your writing looks like, etc.

Maybe Microsoft is a company you trust, which is totally fine, but as I said, they can share any information they collect about you. Take a look at their Privacy Statement for more information on that.

Your Search History

Not surprisingly, your search history is another piece of information that is tracked. Your typing is picked up on, so of course your search history is too. Cortana also collects information about what you view and purchase. And let’s not forget that “she” has access to your email and contacts, so she can keep track of how often you’re keeping in touch with your friends and family too.

Your Location

Windows 10 can also track your location and keep a history of it. This isn’t uncommon, as apps and websites do this all the time. Many apps require you to share your location, as well as permit them to access other information, and without agreeing, you won’t be able to use the app (or sometimes you will, but not properly).

For example, it wouldn’t really do you well to use a GPS navigation app without enabling your location. Since Windows 10 has apps you can use, expect to see similar user permissions requested such as access to your camera, microphone, etc.

Should You Be Worried?

The answer to this question really depends on you. If you have no problem with Microsoft collecting your data, no, you shouldn’t be worried. However, if you’re the type who likes to keep their personal information to themselves, I would say maybe.

The good news is that you can actually disable some of these privacy settings, so you don’t have to share as much. Mainly, the issue with your information being tracked lies within the use of the apps and the use of Cortana. Some are still willing to use Cortana regardless, just because she can come in handy and be somewhat entertaining.

If you’d still like to take advantage of what Cortana has to offer, you could always clear her search history, though not using her at all will of course be the best option if you’re trying to protect your privacy.

Protecting Your Privacy

The truth is, when your operating system is the one collecting your data, it can be hard to guarantee that your privacy is truly protected. Because of the privacy issue, some might be dissuaded from upgrading to Windows 10 altogether, and whether or not upgrading is the right choice is really up to you. It’s best to make the decision that you’re comfortable with.

If you would like to try Windows 10, you’ll have the option to downgrade back to your old OS, so it might be worth taking a look at the very least. It’s important to realize that your information is being tracked every day (mostly by websites) no matter which OS you use. Whether you’re using Windows 10 or another OS, it’s best to install software, such as a Virtual Private Network (VPN), that can protect your personal information.

VPNs are recommended because they hide your location and encrypt your internet connection, making it less likely for you to fall victim to a hacker’s attack or have your information gathered by the websites you visit. A VPN itself is actually a remote server, and by connecting to the server, your internet traffic will be routed through it, which makes the VPN’s location and IP address show up instead of your own.

So Should You Download Windows 10?

As mentioned, if you disable the privacy settings and avoid using Cortana, it’s less likely that you’ll encounter a problem with your data being tracked. The apps and Cortana itself are not the only thing that make Windows 10 an appealing OS; there’s also the fact that it takes up less space, is faster, and has a sleek and modern appearance, as well as some features that don’t require the invasion of your privacy.

For the average user, Windows 10 might be easier to use too. Give it a try, you might actually find that you prefer it!

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