A few days ago, I stumbled upon a good post on my “virtual home” TenForums.com. The post was refreshing: in it, an unofficial IT support geek for friends and family was questioning his decision to enforce his own Windows policies on those relying on him for assistance and advice. I do not like long quotes, but I think that for the purpose of this post, it is important to quote the whole thing:
I support a dozen or so family and friends PC’s along with several of my own. Windows 10 has got me more perplexed than any other OS. I’m an early adopter of every version and lock them down as much as I can through Group Policy and vetting all the settings.
However I realise that I’m doing this for my family and friends too, without giving them the opportunity to experience Windows 10 naturally for themselves.
Reading alot of tech magazines I have never came across an article where it can be proven that Windows 10 has ever used any data over the last three years for nefarious purposes. They are always on either side of the fence, Microsoft is evil or take off your tinfoil hat. This has left me in the middle chopping and changing OS’s and not really enjoying computing at the moment.
I am at a point in 2019 where I think sod it let Windows 10 use the express settings and just move on enjoying all the cloud applications, cortana, timeline etc… rather than locking everything down. Surely if there were any truly terrible privacy and security invasions someone would have discovered them since 2015.
You can find the original post and the discussion that followed, including my comments at https://www.tenforums.com/general-support/125760-lock-down-windows-10-just-get-over.html
What made me angry was one of the first replies to OP. A fellow member, ignoring the OP’s question, recommended taking these actions when installing Windows 10:
– Disable One Drive
– Disable Cortana and web based search
– Set all diagnostic telemetry as low as possible
– Delay “feature” updates by 120 days (if possible)
– Delay security updates by 11 days (if possible)
– Set default search in any/all browsers to DuckDuckGo
– Install and use browsers that can use HTTPSAnywhere and PrivacyBadger extensions
Windows 10 is capable of taking care of itself, and works best when left to do what it is designed to do. These tips from the “tinfoil hat brigade” do more harm than Windows users often realize. Especially when talking about Windows services and disabling them based on groundless rumours and paranoia can lead to unexpected consequences. Services are intertwined in such a way that a service disabled by a user can cause other services not to work at all, or to work badly or inefficiently.
I am repeating myself, having said this several times on various forums and on social media, but in my opinion it needs to be repeated: The telemetry Windows 10 collects is to learn how you use Windows, what your interests are, what you search for and use. Consider, Windows does all this anonymously. The only goal in collecting this data is to improve Windows and your user experience. Windows “calling home” is so minimal it has absolutely no impact on compute capability, Internet speed or storage space.
Microsoft is not “spying” on users. Thus, the telemetry Microsoft collects is to make Windows better, and to improve the Windows user experience. Microsoft will not call your ex if you called her a stupid cow in a Skype chat with a friend. Microsoft will not print your most embarrassing social media photos and put them on display on Redmond campus to give their personnel a good laugh. Microsoft will not report you to the authorities if you mention in an email that you lied in your tax declaration.
Let Windows to do its job. Since the early days of Windows Vista, I have not used any cleaners, optimizers or tweakers. There’s a clear correlation between posts on tech sites asking for help and the amount of tweaks and disabled Windows features and services these posters have applied. For myself, letting Windows 10 do its job, I have had no issues, excluding of course issues caused by bugs in Insider builds.
Windows collecting telemetry data is a good thing. Let it do its thing. Windows can only get better as a result.
Author: Kari Finn
A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.