Privacy and Telemetry in Windows 10: How to limit what is sent to Microsoft

Tutorial in pictures to limit as much as possible the information sent by a Windows 10 terminal to Microsoft. The possibilities differ according to the editions.

The release of Windows 10 this summer has raised concerns: the latest Microsoft OS being equipped with new telemetry systems, some users may have felt a little too spy. The media did not hesitate to echo these fears, sometimes abundantly, which could amplify them.

Microsoft has since wanted to calm the game. The editor now offers the ability to manage settings that allow to choose the information that will be shared. Here’s how to minimize telemetry on Windows 10, Family, Pro or Enterprise license.

Choose your telemetry level in 3 clicks

From the desktop, you must first go to the space dedicated to notifications, accessible from the taskbar, bottom right on the desktop. Then click on the button “All settings” (box in red in the screenshot below).

The first click:

You must first click on “All Settings” at the top right of this screenshot.

The second click:

Once the settings are open, go to the “Privacy” menu with the padlock as the icon at the bottom.

A scroll, the third click, and a last scroll to scroll a small menu:

Then you have to go down in the side menu to reach and click on “Comment and Diagnostics”. 
There appears, on the right, under “Diagnostic data and use”, a drop-down menu (with the options “Basic”, “Improved”, and “Complete” on the capture). 
This is where telemetry is set.

Several levels of telemetry exist. By default, on Pro and Family licenses, the level is set to  “full” . This is level  4 , the highest, the one that shares the most information with Microsoft. “It solves the most complex problems, but it will also get more information than other levels.” Microsoft will not use the personal data that can be collected: it will not be used for advertising, and users will not be contacted.This is strictly controlled, “said Arnaud Jumelet, Cloud and Security Advisor at the technical and security direction of Microsoft France in a video very educational on the subject.

The Level 3 is the level “improved” . This is the level on which the Enterprise Edition of Windows 10 is set by default. This level “collects performance information, the type and number of apps that are running, and it will also get memory snapshots, ‘memory dumps’, just like Windows Error Reporting on previous versions of Windows”, recalls Arnaud Jumelet in this same video broadcast on the official webTV of Microsoft, channel 9. Again, if personal data were to be collected in the memory footprints, Microsoft promises not to exploit them. 

Windows 10 Pro: The minimum amount of information sent

From a Windows 10 Family or Pro client, it is finally possible to lower the telemetry level to “basic” level. This is level 2, and the minimum level for these licenses. It will go back to Microsoft “basic information about the functioning of the OS”, and must allow the giant of Redmond to “ensure that there is no problem of slowdown, application compatibility, applications that do not install or crash, “says Jean-Yves Grasset, security architect at Microsoft also involved in the video. This basic level “also allows to know if the OS is virtualized, to know the version of Internet Explorer used” but “no personal information is sent, only information on the system”, complete Florent Pélissier Windows Product Manager 10 at Microsoft France interviewed by the JDN.

Finally, there is a level   : the security level . “It’s the lowest possible,” said Florent Pélissier. But it is only available for Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Education and Windows 10 IoT Standard, and can only be obtained through GPO or MDM. Not since the interface of a Windows 10 client so unlike the other levels shown in the catches above.

According to Microsoft, this level 1 does not go back “only the information related to the security of the system”. For example, it includes the tool MSRT “that will scan the post every month and will trace the information about possible infections.Other parameters are also transmitted.The version of the OS is part of the data sent to Microsoft with this level, as the identifier of the terminal, which avoids duplicates, “says Jean-Yves Grasset in the broadcast channel 9. 

Setting up a post on this security level is not enough: “to send nothing to Microsoft, you also have to disable certain services like Cortana, or geolocation, among others”, adds Florent Pélissier.

All disable in “Privacy”

We must also curb the great curiosity of Cortana

It’s also feasible in a few clicks from the Windows client interface. Here again you have to start by clicking on “Privacy” in “All Settings”, just as in the first two screenshots above.

Then, you have to disable everything that appears, starting with what is in the “General” menu: the advertising ID, Smartscreen, even if Microsoft does not recommend it, the information about the writing, and the list of language.

That’s not all: then you have to go to tabs (Location, Camera, Microphone, Contacts, Calendar …) and disable everything (the first button at the top for each menu entry is sufficient in most menus). We must also curb the great curiosity of Cortana, which can be done from its settings – which can be quickly found after typing “Cortana” in the field of the Start menu. Again, you have to disable everything, but obviously, some services can not then be operational.