Thursday, 6 April 2017

Windows 10 Tamed

Windows 10 Tamed

Lock screen ads, mandatory updates and hardly any data protection. Microsoft’s latest OS calls for the need of strict control

Aggressive - this is the term which Windows 10 would use to describe the system. This began from the update with the annoying upgrade requests. Meanwhile, the chief of marketing at Microsoft, Chris Capossela, has acknowledged that the company has advanced forcefully to bring the new system quickly to the people. A billion PCs in a maximum of three years is the target and all this was ‘for the benefit of the users’. ‘‘We want maximum number of users to use Windows 10 for security reasons,” he claimed. But data security does not come under security. Windows 10 digs deeper into privacy than any other older Windows version and it also provides many users with complete facts. Data is collected via a default setting that automatically runs updates without asking and advertisements are displayed on the lock screen. Microsoft bets on the fact that many users are happy with Windows 10, since there are no alternatives. Are you? For some, maybe, but we think Windows 10 should be even more user-friendly. In this article, we’ll show you how you can tame the operating system so that your privacy is safeguarded.

Snoop-Free From Microsoft Services

Microsoft wants to know which specific errors occur frequently and it does this by heavily monitoring its customers. According to online FAQs, it is not about ‘‘identifying or contacting” individual users or to ‘‘display specific advertisements”. The pre-installed standard settings allow the Microsoft employees to directly connect with the home PC in order to search for causes for a reported error using various diagnostic tools. They do not disclose their findings. If you have a pre-configured PC or were not observant during the installation of Windows 10, you should definitely take a look at the data security settings. Freeware tools like ShutUp10 also disclose many settings tied to the privacy of Windows 10. Before you do that, we recommend manually changing the most important settings first. This way, you will get to know Windows 10 better and know where to find particular setting.

Avoid online accounts

The first step in limiting the data flow is switching to a local account. Many users use an online account without thinking during the installation. Thus, Windows 10 can synchronise specific settings and passwords between different devices - the resulting data is exchanged via the Microsoft server. An online account is also needed when you wish to buy apps from the Microsoft store. Fortunately, you can switch over to a local account later. To do this, go to the Windows icon on the bottom left and go to ‘‘Settings” then click on ‘‘Accounts”. Next, click ‘‘Sign in with a local account instead”. Here, you will also be able to change the synchronisation configuration. Just go to ‘‘Synchronise settings” and set the first switch to ‘‘Off”. The central starting point for the control of your own privacy settings in Windows 10 is found under ‘‘Start | Settings | Privacy”. Under ‘‘General”, you will find options to ban the use of Advertising ID and prevent Windows 10 from sending any information about your internet browsing behaviour to Microsoft. The smart screen filter found there, however, is meant for protection against malicious websites and should not be deactivated.

Do not use voice calls at home

Subsequently, click on all entries in the list under ‘‘General” and adjust the settings individually. You should select ‘‘Never” as a feedback option under ‘‘Feedback and Diagnosis” and then select ‘‘Basic” further below. In this manner, Windows will transfer less information to Microsoft in case of errors, for example, a device code, the Windows version and data about the hardware used. Under ‘‘Location”, you can determine whether Windows 10 is allowed to detect the location and pass it on to other apps. You should deactivate this option and also delete the ‘‘Location history” further below. The voice assistant Cortana appears to be useful at first, but it can only function when the user inputs go to the Microsoft server where they are evaluated. If you do not want this to happen, then click on ‘‘Start | Cortana”. Go to the gearwheel icon and set all options to ‘‘Off” in order to shut it down. The personalised advertisement of the companies can be deactivated in the browser. Go to the page and click on the button ‘‘On” under ‘‘Personalised ads in this browser”. It will thus change to ‘‘Off”. By default, Windows 10 will also automatically connect to ‘‘suggested open hotspots”. But if you prefer to control the connectivity of your computer to wireless networks, then you should disable this option. You will find it under ‘‘Start | Settings | Network and Internet | Wi-Fi”. Deactivate the option under ‘‘Wi-Fi Optimisation”. On some systems, there is also an option to automatically exchange Wi-Fi data with ‘‘Contacts”, which you should disable for security reasons.

Pacify The Operating System

The new notification centre of Windows 10 collects news, tips and other messages of apps on your computer and always displays them. If you do not wish to be disturbed by it then you can deactivate it. To do that, click on the Windows icon on the bottom left and select ‘‘Settings”. Go to ‘‘System” and then ‘‘Notifications and actions”. Here, you can disable all of the notifications at one go by toggling ‘‘Get notifications from apps and other senders” to ‘‘Off”, or do it individually for every app and sender at the section further down.

When it comes to updates, Microsoft has another tactic up its sleeve with Windows 10. The most important settings are not all found easily. Most users can’t control when Windows 10 updates itself, for it does it as and when Microsoft wants. As a result, users of the Home version do not have any direct option to postpone or prevent the installation of new patches. Automatic and increasingly annoying updates for apps can be disabled via the Windows Store. Here, click on your profile image on the top right side. Select ‘‘Settings” and set the switch to ‘‘Off” under ‘‘Update apps automatically”.

Restrain system updates

It is a bit cumbersome to restrict the automated operating system updates. Still, there are three options here: Delay the updates, restrict them or completely disable them. The most effective and, at the same time, most radical solution is the deactivation of the service that takes care of Windows updates. First, press [Windows] + [R] and type ‘‘services.msc”. Then sort the list according to ‘‘Name” and right-click on ‘‘Windows update”. Here, select ‘‘Properties” and change the ‘‘Startup type” to ‘‘Disabled”. Save the change by clicking on OK. Windows 10 will now no longer install updates, but note that this includes security patches as well. Therefore, you should check this setting from time to time and reactivate the service again temporarily.

It should be noted that the distribution of updates costs bandwidth and money. To reduced its own burden, Microsoft has moved a part of this load to the users of Windows 10 who - often without knowing - offer other users the updates for downloading. This may lead to your internet connection slowing down for the duration of the updates. Fortunately, this can be avoided. Go to ‘‘Start | Settings | Update and Security”. Here, click on ‘‘Advanced options” and ‘‘Select transfer of updates” to stop it.

Interface and Explorer Customised

The weather prediction live tile is a popular one, but the constant changing of contents of other live tiles soon gets on your nerves. You can stop this nuisance with a right-click on the respective tile and the selectin ‘‘More | Disable Live tiles”. Tiles that you no longer need can be completely removed by right-clicking and then selecting ‘‘Uninstall”. Many Windows fans are also finding it difficult to get used to the new Start menu and want it gone. No problem, the freeware Classic Shell allows you to use a customisable Start menu which reminds us of earlier Windows versions. You can download the tool at When you click on the Start button after the installation, you will be requested to select a layout for yourself.

New functions for the Explorer

Besides that, Classic Shell can add some useful icons in Windows Explorer that help you access the folder options faster, or allow you to send files via Email. In earlier versions of Windows, the File Manager gave an overview of drives installed in the PC. On the other hand, Windows 10 shows previously used files instead. This can be configured under ‘‘View | Options”. In the tab ‘‘General”, change the entry behind ‘‘Open File Explorer for” in ‘‘This PC”. Another characteristic of Windows 10 that has driven users up the wall is how the OS sporadically shows advertisements on the lock screen. Luckily, this can also be disabled. To do so, go to ‘‘Start | Settings” and click on ‘‘Personalisation”. Then switch to ‘‘Lockscreen” and select the option ‘‘Image” for ‘‘Background”. Now scroll a bit down and set the switch to ‘‘Off” for ‘‘Get fun facts, tips and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen”.

Prevent automatic restarts

Windows 10 Home restarts after the installation of updates without considering any data losses, all in order to achieve the fastest possible installation of updates. If you’re unlucky, you could end up losing changes that are not yet saved in a Word document.

> Microsoft has a feature where you can define “Active times” when the operating will not restart automatically. However, this time window is a maximum of 12 hours long.

After that, Windows 10 will restart even if you don’t want it to. This is too short a period for computers that run for long periods.

>The RebootBlocker developed by the programmer Ulrich Decker installs a Windows service which keeps on pushing this time window forward. Unwanted restarting of Windows 10 thus become a thing of the past. You will find the RebootBlocker for free at

Re-install without data loss

There are situations where only a complete reinstallation is the only remedy to get control of Windows. The good thing is that this process is a lot easier in Win10 than older Windows versions.

>A fresh start may be necessary if Windows 10 does not work as you want it to, if the system is corrupted, or a new computer has a lot of pre-installed software which you do not need at all. For this, Microsoft has developed the free Windows 10 Refresh Tool. It not only does a fresh installation for Windows, but it also keeps the personal data intact during the system refurbishing process.

>We recommend you to make a backup of all your important data on an external drive in advance. Then, download the program from and launch it. Next, select “Keep personal files only” and click on “Install” to restart your PC.