Windows 10 is an excellent operating system but has always been surrounded by controversy due to the large amount of data it collects from its users. Whether or not you’re aware of it, your location, browsing history and everything you say to Cortana is stored on the Microsoft cloud.
Your PC’s privacy and security are important issues that should not be taken lightly. As much as Microsoft claims that it only collects your data to improve your Windows experience, you could have serious issues if your information falls into the wrong hands.
To solve this problem, in today’s article, we’re going to teach you how to clear your full Windows 10 activity history. That way, anything you do on your PC will stay between you and your computer. We hope you find it helpful!
What kind of information does Microsoft collect about my Windows 10 activity?
Like many people, you may be unaware of the fact that Windows 10 spies on everything you do whenever you’re on your computer.
All of that data is carefully stored in your activity history and sent for analysis to Microsoft so the folks in Redmond can improve the OS and tailor the content to your tastes. But what kind of data does Windows collect, exactly?
Microsoft stores the following data on its cloud servers:
- How you use Windows 10 through the Timeline feature.
- Your location via the Windows 10 geolocation service.
- Your browsing history based on your use of Microsoft Edge.
- Your Cortana voice commands.
- Your Bing search history.
- Any movies or TV series you watch using a Microsoft app or service.
- The performance and activities of any Microsoft product you use.
- All of your LinkedIn account activity.
After reading this, you might think we’re exaggerating, but you can view your full activity history by visiting your Microsoft account.
Simply log into your Microsoft account by clicking here and select the “Privacy” option. In the new window, you’ll see an explanation of all the data that the Redmond-based company collects.
How can I turn off my Windows 10 activity history?
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed once you discover how much personal data Microsoft collects. Fortunately, you can take action to recover your privacy with a few simple steps. The first thing you need to do is to turn off your Windows 10 activity history.
To do this, open the Windows 10 Settings menu. You can get there by clicking Start (the Windows logo icon in the lower left corner of your screen) and then the gear icon. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + I. Then click Privacy.
In the new window, select”Activity history” in the left-side menu of the window. Now make sure to uncheck the “Send my activity history to Microsoft” box. That way your PC will stop sending your collected data to the company’s cloud.
For added security, you also have the option of unchecking the “Store my activity history on this device” box. This tool is useful because it lets you jump back into your work or previous searches, but it’s still an activity-tracking feature.
Congratulations! Windows 10 will no longer collect data about everything you do on your PC. However, your work is not finished, because now you need to delete all of your data that has been stored in the Microsoft cloud.
How do I clear my Windows 10 activity history?
The next step to clear all your Windows 10 activity is to delete your activity history from Microsoft’s servers. First, open your operating system’s Settings menu and click the “Privacy” option.
In the new window, click “Activity history” in the left side menu and look for the “Clear activity history” section. Then look for the history saved under your Microsoft account email and select “Clear.”
Next, we recommend selecting “Manage my Microsoft account activity data” to make sure that your data has been cleared.
Once you log into your Microsoft account, you’ll see a menu with categories of activity history. They are as follows:
- Browsing history
- Search history
- Location activity
- Voice activity
- Multimedia activity
- Product and service activity
- Product and service performance
- Cortana’s Notebook
Now you just have to clear all these entries one by one, and your activity will be deleted from Microsoft’s records.
I have turned off and cleared my activity history. Will Windows 10 keep spying on everything I do?
As we mentioned, Windows 10 is a powerful, useful operating system, but it’s quite invasive when it comes to privacy. So it takes more than just turning off your activity history to keep Microsoft from sticking its nose into your business. To do that, you need to take extra precautions.
Disable personalized ads
Windows 10 tracks the websites you visit in order to display ads that are more interesting to you. To stop this, just follow these steps.
Open the Windows 10 Settings menu and click “Privacy.” Then select “General” in the menu on the left side of the screen and turn off all the options that appear on the right side.
We also suggest going into the ad settings in your Microsoft account (click here) and deactivating the “See ads that interest you” option.
That way, Microsoft won’t spy on your searches in order to show you personalized ads.
Deactivate the location system
Windows 10 has a built-in location system that determines the location where you are using your PC. The objective is to use your location data to improve location services, but if you don’t like the idea of being traceable, it’s best to turn it off.
To disable location data in Windows 10, first open the Settings menu and select the “Privacy” option. Then click “Location,” which you’ll find in the menu on the left side of your screen.
Now just turn off “Allow apps to access your location” and select “Clear location history on this device.”
Send only the necessary diagnostic data
Windows 10 regularly sends Microsoft diagnostic data about your device activity. In theory, it is used to keep Windows secure and updated, to solve problems with the operating system, and to improve the company’s other products.
That may not sound like a serious invasion of privacy, but the problem lies in the fact that, by default, Windows sends much more than simple diagnostic data. Keep reading to find out how to limit the data you share to the minimum.
First, go to the Windows 10 Settings menu by clicking the icon with the operating system logo in the lower left corner of your screen. When the menu opens, click the gear icon. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + I. Next select “Privacy.”
When the Privacy window opens, click the “Diagnostics & feedback” window in the menu on the right side. Then check “Required diagnostic data: Send only info about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it is performing properly.”
That way you’ll be sure that Windows only shares diagnostic data about your device. Otherwise, you’ll also be sending info about the websites you visit, the apps you use the most, and additional info about the device you’re using.
Disable your camera and microphone
Finally, while it’s not strictly necessary to preserve your privacy, we always recommend turning off your computer’s camera and microphone and only turning them on when you’re going to use them.
You can deactivate both your camera and microphone on your Windows 10 computer by opening the Settings menu (Windows Key + I) and selecting “Privacy.” In the next window, click “Camera” and “Microphone” in the menu on the left side and turn them off.
If you don’t want to completely deactivate your microphone or camera, we suggest that you limit their access to applications that use them. You can do this in the aforementioned menu.
We hope our little guide has helped you to eliminate every trace of your Windows 10 activity!