When it comes to Internet privacy, device security, data safety, and others are now nomadic and lore. Even if the user tries to limit themselves, it is always possible that in one way or another, at least a small part of the data stored on a device ends up being stored in the cloud. Data breaches are rife and increasing. Fortunately, the privacy settings and options to customize it on Windows PCs are some of the finest. So, read our comprehensive that will help you protect your privacy in Windows 11.
Settings You Should Change to Protect Your Privacy in Windows 11
Here are some solutions that you can implement to improve Windows 11 security. These will protect your device against any kind of security lapse as performing these would prevent data and information on the device from being stored on cloud servers. It will also deactivate Microsoft’s access to personal data without your consent.
1. Change General Privacy Settings
General privacy settings are related to relevant ads and recommendations, suggestions, language preferences, and what not. Windows creates an Advertising ID that sends appropriate suggestive ads and it is unique to every user based on their searches and lookouts. Turning this off does not remove ads but creates a barrier for the browser or the OS to peep into your private zone of interest. To modify the General Privacy settings:
1. Launch Settings on your Windows 11 PC.
2. Move to Privacy & security from the sidebar.
3. Click on General under the Windows permissions section.
4. Toggle to turn off and disable all permissions given to Windows to track your app, track launches, learn about your interests, and show personalized ads based on that. Additionally, it blocks websites from accessing your default language.
2. Turn Off Online Speech Recognition
Windows 11 got the new Voice Typing and Voice access features in its operating system that use Microsoft’s online speech recognition to execute commands and enable dictation as well. Turning this off prevents Microsoft from sending data to the cloud storage. Hence, as a result, protect your privacy in Windows 11 operating system.
1. Launch Settings on your PC and move to Privacy & Security.
2. Scroll and click on Speech.
3. Toggle to turn off and disable Online speech recognition.
Also Read: 28 Best OCR Software for Free on Windows 10
3. Disable Sending of Diagnostic Data
Microsoft saves a limited amount of default data diagnosed from the PCs of users to ensure Windows 11 security as well as keep the OS up to date. However, there is a set of optional diagnostic data that lets your browsing history, use of an app or feature, and things like this be diagnosed. As said, this is optional diagnostic data, on your choice you can opt to turn that off from being accessed and sent by Microsoft.
1. Click on Privacy & security.
2. Navigate to Diagnostics & feedback and click on it.
3. Expand the Diagnostic data section and toggle to disable Send optional diagnostic data.
4. Turn Off Suggestion Notifications
Wouldn’t you agree that notifications, whether they come from a smartphone or a computer, are already bothersome? With the availability and usage of more and more apps on your Windows PC, the notification chimes are quite more than before. Moreover, it adds up with Windows suggestions and tips, basically, Microsoft ads trying to plug their programs in. A sigh of relief that the developers chose to provide an easy way to block the notifications or ads in disguise for suggestions. Disabling a few off notifications could restrict and protect your privacy in Windows 11.
1. Launch settings on your PC and click on System.
2. Click on Notifications.
3. Scroll down to the bottom and uncheck the following:
- Show the Windows welcome experience after updates and when signed in to show what’s new and suggested
- Get tips and suggestions when using Windows
5. Disable Activity History
The Timeline feature, later renamed as Activity History to keep a track of all user activity on the PC was introduced in Windows 10. In Windows 11, it was modified so that there is no timeline to display the user’s activity on the PC, however, Microsoft still stores the activities details. By default, the data is stored on the computer locally but can be synced to the cloud in case a user decides to sign in to the Microsoft account. For Windows 11 privacy settings and to protect your data on Windows 11, you should disable this feature.
1. Launch Windows settings and go to Privacy & security.
2. Click on Activity history in the right pane.
3. Toggle and Disable Store my activity history on this device.
4. Click on Clear history to remove all the activity history stored earlier.
6. Turn Off Share Across Devices
Windows 11 has this feature to sync data and app activity across all the PCs and smartphones that you are signed into. This feature helps the user to access data on using multiple devices or shifting from one device to another. You may turn it off if you doubt this to be a security risk.
1. Open Settings and click on Apps.
2. Click on Advanced app settings.
3. Click on Share across devices.
4. Select Off.
7. Disable Location Permission
Location undeniably is a highly sensitive data and vulnerable information to be handled. While devices tend to enable location services for functionalities such as GPS, tracking, nearby places, etc, sharing it might not always be a good idea. Blocking access to the location on Windows 11 isn’t a mess. However, ensure that disabling location services altogether on Windows 11 prevents searching and finding the device in case of a threat. So, we would suggest you keep the location permission enabled for apps that definitely need it.
1. In the Privacy & security menu, scroll down and click on Location.
2. Grant permissions to the apps that need it as per your engagement and remove permission from the rest of the unwanted apps.
3. You can also turn off the Location services completely with the toggle.
8. Change Camera and Mic Permissions in Windows 11
The camera and mic permissions are vital and there is a need to stop apps from accessing the camera and microphone in the background without your knowledge, in order to make your system private and better. This is one of the settings to protect your privacy on Windows 11 that cannot be ignored.
1. Launch the Windows settings.
2. Click on Privacy & security in the left pane.
3. To first manage permissions for the camera, on the right, click on the Camera option.
4. Toggle to disable the camera access entirely.
5. If you want you can choose to toggle off the selected apps you want not to access camera on your device.
6. Similarly, follow the same steps for Microphone access.
9. Enable Encrypted DNS
Encryption created to the web traffic on your Windows 11 device ensures an additional security layer. Encrypted DNS (DNS-over-HTTPS) is a common standard to encrypt DNS queries. The exchange between the server of a website and a DNS server stays unencrypted, thereby turning a potential source of risk of leakage. Therefore, this needs to be encrypted to protect your privacy in Windows 11. Read our guide on How to Enable DNS over HTTPS in Chrome.
10. Move to a Local Account
A local account is an offline account that can be used to log in to your PC. The accounts-related information is stored locally on the computer rather than being shared by Microsoft or stored in the cloud. So, the user gets more control over Microsoft services. Switching from an online account to a local account ensures more privacy for all the data on your PC. Refer to our guide on How to Create a Local Account in Windows 11.
11. Disable Cortana
Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant. If you use Cortana then you should be aware that it has all the information about your location, residence, workplace, timings, routes, and what not. The presence of this information in the app turns into a grave concern over privacy and security threats. In, Windows 11 it is not enabled by default and we suggest you not turn it on as well. If it is turned on, sign out of it and turn it off. This will improve your Windows 11 privacy settings.
12. Do Not Use OneDrive
This solution is for people who are extremely cautious about how to protect your privacy in Windows 11. The anxious users who do not like to sync their data and files to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service can stop using the service. Although the user cannot Uninstall the OneDrive in any way, these are the steps that can be performed to avoid syncing files.
1. Right-click on the OneDrive icon on the notification tray on the taskbar.
2. Click on the gear icon at the top-right corner of the pop-up.
3. Choose Settings from the dropdown menu.
4. Move to the Accounts tab.
5. Click on Unlink this PC.
Also Read: Fix OneDrive 0x8004de40 Error in Windows 10
13. Delete Microsoft Cloud Data
After all the clearing and disabling steps, you have been through until these steps, even now Microsoft keeps a track of all your data and sends it back to its server. No matter what their excuse is for using this data to improve products and services, personalize your online experience, understand your behavior, serve targeted ads, and deliver better recommendations. You can delete all the cloud data, including location activity, browsing history collected from Edge or Windows Search, apps and services, media activity, and performance data.
1. Click on the link to open Microsoft’s privacy dashboard.
2. Sign in with the Microsoft account linked to your Windows 11 PC.
3. Expand the Location activity section.
4. Click on Clear all location activity.
5. Now, the browsing history stores information about all the websites you have visited using the Microsoft Edge browser. If you are looking to protect your privacy in Windows 11, expand Browsing history and click on Clear all browsing activity.
6. The search history stores information on all the searches made using Bing Search, Windows Search, Cortana, etc. Expand Search history.
7. Click on Clear all search history.
8. Expand App and service activity and click on Clear all app and service activity.
9. In the same way, clear Media activity and App and service performance data. This ensures that all the personal data from Microsoft’s cloud server gets deleted.
Some Security Settings in Windows
Finally, we have also listed some of these basic level security settings in Windows that you need to change or follow on your device to ensure it stays secure internally and also that it cannot be accessed by anyone other than you, without your willingness.
14. Keeping Windows OS Updated
In general, security issues on any OS result from a security breach caused by any app or program, or from being hacked by a bug or malware. Keeping the software updated makes the system less vulnerable to external threats and protects it with the latest security patches. You can go through our article on How to Download and Install Optional Updates in Windows 11.
15. Setup Login Options
With the introduction of Windows Hello, the experience of logging in to the Windows device has enhanced. Options to log into the PC using a fingerprint or through the Facial recognition feature using the webcam are now enabled on Windows. These are unquestionably more secure ways to keep the device protected from being used by someone else in your absence.
1. Launch the settings app on your Windows PC.
2. Navigate to Accounts in the left pane. Scroll through the right pane and click on Sign-in options.
3. Set up and enable Fingerprint recognition and Facial Recognition on your PC.
Also Read: How to Remove PIN Login from Windows 10
16. Dynamic Lock
Dynamic Lock on Windows is a feature that locks the computer when the connected Bluetooth device, preferably a phone or a wearable, goes out of range and disconnects from Windows. This is a feature when Windows creates a trusted device connecting to which via Bluetooth automatically enables the sign-in with the PC and on being away from the trusted source, signs out and locks the PC. To enable Dynamic lock in Windows 11 security settings follow these steps;
1. In the Settings of your PC, click on Accounts on the left pane.
2. Click on Sign-in options as done earlier.
3. Click on Dynamic Lock and enable it.
We hope that with the help of this guide, you were able to learn about Windows 11 security settings and how to protect your privacy in Windows 11. If you have any queries or, suggestions then feel free to drop them in the comments section below.