Understanding Windows 10 Privacy Settings

Windows 10 privacy settings are complicated. If you are interested in protecting your privacy while using Windows 10, you are going to want to read this post. Windows 10 privacy settings are extensive but this post gives clear guidance on the new privacy settings.

There are 12 privacy options in Windows 10. You can disable many of them ahead of time by using the customized setup instead of the express setup.

There’s a lot to review so I’m going to dig deep into each category.

Windows 10 Privacy Options

The privacy options are available in Settings as their own group.

In the privacy group, you will find the following 12 categories, the first of which are the General Settings.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - General

The General Settings are similar to the privacy options in Windows 8.1, except that the option to let apps access your name, pictures, and account information has been relocated to its own “Account Info” section.

Windows 10 - Change Privacy Settings

One of the most important aspects of any set of privacy options will be the location items, because those are going to tie you and your device to a place, revealing where you are and where you have been.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Location Settings

If you want to control whether Windows tracks and reports your location to various apps, you can make those adjustments here.

Camera and Microphone

Do you have a camera on your laptop? If you’re concerned about apps using it, err on the side of safety and turn it off completely.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Turn Off Camera

Otherwise, you can choose which apps can use the camera, rather than it being an all-or-nothing kind of deal. That said, you only want to enable the apps you will actually use with the camera.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Choose Apps that Use Camera

Your laptop will also have a microphone, which certain apps (like Skype) can use. To prevent this, turn the microphone off.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Choose Apps that Use Microphone

Similar to the Camera privacy options, you can decide which specific apps can use the microphone.


Microsoft Wants to Get to Know You

Windows will automatically “get to know you” by learning your voice and handwriting. It will also collect other information on you such as calendar events and typing history.

It stores this information in the cloud so you can go from Windows 10 computer to Windows 10 computer and pick up where you left off with your Microsoft account.

Unless you’re truly on board with Cortana and want it to know every nuance and lilt of your voice, I am skeptical about the prospect of sharing all this information with Microsoft.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Getting to Know You

You’re not done though, you still want to click the “Go to Bing” link and clear the data stored there as well.

On the Bing settings page, click the “Clear” button under “Other Cortana Data and Personalized Speech, Inking and Typing”.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Clear Bing

Account Info, Calendar and Messaging

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Account Info

In Windows 10, there are certain apps, which may want to access your contacts. There’s no one global control to completely disable this, so you will need to allow or disallow apps individually.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Apps that can access contacts

Windows 10 includes a calendar, which can be accessed by other apps. On a side note, the calendar is a cool feature. You can easily integrate multiple calendar accounts like gmail or Outlook 365. Again, you can turn this all off universally, or one app at a time.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Calendar

If you use your Windows 10 device to send or receive text messages, then other apps can read or send those messages.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Messaging

Radios, which are usually something like Bluetooth, can send and receive data on your device. To do this, apps may need to automatically turn these radios on and off. You can disable this feature completely, or do it app by app.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Radio

Other Privacy Settings

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Sync Devices

Click the “Choose apps that can sync with devices” link to see if there are any apps that can sync with these devices.

Below, there’s a section for trusted devices (devices you’ve already connected to your PC, tablet, or phone), and an option to prevent apps from using USB storage. Again, you can choose which apps can use USB storage, if any.

Windows 10 Privacy Settings - Trusted Devices

There are a lot of privacy settings in Windows 10, and I am sure they’re going to confuse most people. While the camera and microphone settings are pretty simple, the “Getting to know you” is going to deserve careful scrutiny. Again, I recommend you double-check your location settings as well.

Top Five Affordable NAS Servers

Home Backup Made Easy

The importance of backing up your data is relatively mainstream these days. People either do it or don’t do it, but it’s common knowledge that there are two distinct ways to back up your data. You can do it online, using a service like Carbonite, or you can buy an external hard drive and set up a program to run regular back-ups. Online backup services are great and very reliable, but what do you do when you have hundreds of GBs to back up? Online backup is still a viable option, but it’s expensive and depending on your broadband connection, the initial backup could take months. Also, if you have multiple computers, you will quickly reach the limits of online backup.

What Is a NAS Server?

A NAS server is similar to an external hard drive but instead of connecting to a computer using a peripheral connection (USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, etc.), it connects to your router (or switch) using a network cable and makes the storage space available to every computer on the network. Apart from acting as a backup destination (what I’m focusing on in this blog post), a NAS server can also work as a streaming server, file sharing server, and even a personal cloud server, as well as many other functions you can’t find in external hard drives.

Top Five Affordable NAS Servers

1. Synology Disk Station DS214se

Synologysynology ds214se photo is the most well-known vendor of NAS servers. Thanks to the DiskStation Manger (DSM) operating system, Synology NAS servers are easily the best on the market in terms of performance, functionality, and reliability. The Synology DS214se is the latest in this crowd. It runs DSM 5.0, and is designed as a budget NAS server for a small home. The server can house two internal hard drives to offer up to 4TB of protected storage space (in RAID 1) and it supports Time Machine natively. It also comes with Data Replicator software for backing up your Windows computer. At the current price of just $160 (diskless) or $340 (4TB included), the Synology DS214se is a really good bargain.

2. WD My Cloud EX2

The My Cloud EX2 is a dual-bay NAS server from WD and is one of the most affordable among dual-bay servers on the market costing just $390 for 4TB (6TB and 8TB servers also exist). While it doesn’t offer as many features as the Synology above, the server is very easy to use and will make a great backup server for both Windows and Macs. It also has a very user-friendly personal cloud features for you to access and share data on the go.

3. WD My Cloud

The WD My Cloud is very similar to the WD My Cloud EX2 with one exception – it’s a single bay NAS server. This means that it only houses one data drive and there’s no way to protect this data if the lone drive fails. For this reason, I would only recommend this as a backup drive and not a drive that holds a single copy of your data. This is a significant drawback, made up slightly be a very competitive price. The WD My Cloud currently costs just $150 for 2TB of space.

4. Seagate Central

The Seagate Central is also a single bay NAS server. The server supports Time Machine backup natively and comes with backup software for Windows. It’s not as easy to use or as fast as any of the above servers but it’s definitely the most affordable with a current price of just less than $130 for 2TB.

5. Apple Airport Time Capsule

Obviously this is not an option for PC users, but the Time Capsule is a great backup server. As a storage device, it can’t do much else other than act as the backup destination for Time Machine and share files between multiple computers, so its utility is extremely limited. The one unique thing the Airport Time Capsule includes is a wifi router, so if you only have apple devices and you need a wifi router with 2TB backup capability, the Airport Time Capsule is a good deal at $280.