How to Completely Disable Windows 10 Spying


Have held back from Windows 10 on my personal computer because of the privacy issues, but now I need to upgrade and the CPU I want is not compatible with Win7. Soooo I have some questions about the actual scope of Microsoft’s snooping capabilities and some of the products that I’ve found to help protect my data.
1.      Does Win10 take pictures of documents or open applications on my desktop.
2.      I use charting platforms for day trading, can it observe my activity while I’m trading?
3.      I pay for data that is streamed to my platforms, does MS interfere with this in anyway?

I’m thinking of doing two things to protect my system. One, will be to use encryption software for the storage drives; I’m looking at VeraCrypt right now and two, would be to install DestroyWindows10Spying, to alleviate the spying aspects.

I’m wondering if anyone can explain the scope of MS data collection and your opinions on the two products that I’ve selected to hopefully stop it, and/or your suggestions on how to completely disable Win10 from having access to my information.

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bbaoIT ConsultantCommented:
> the CPU I want is not compatible with Win7
> Soooo I have some questions about the actual scope of Microsoft’s snooping capabilitie

1. i don't see processor type is related to this question or your concern.
2. i don't think MS is spying these things on your computer. MS might be doing some kind of "spying" things, but it is for personal data and computer usage for big data analysis and troubleshooting, not for your business data saved in trading applications.
AnaB29Author Commented:
HI bbao,

thanks for the prompt response. the CPU is i7800K .  I appreciate your answer, but I'd like to know for "sure" if MS is actually spying. I don't want them having any of my data personal or buisness
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Well, you've kinda wandered into the weeds, but your three questions answered in order, then an opinion as asked:

1) No, Windows does not take pictures of your desktop as part of its telemetry gathering.  You can always take screen captures yourself, so obviously the OS has the capability. But Microsoft has a pretty clear privacy statement, and if they did so it'd be illegal as heck.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
2) You changed from 'does' to 'can' in your second question.  Yes, just as with #1, the OS *can* do so because it has to know what to draw on your screen and run calculations to ask. So the OS has access to that data.  But it *does not* send that back to Microsoft.  Now, if you enable full telemetry (not a default by the way) then incidental data *can* accidentally be sent to Microsoft in the event of a crash or detected performance issue. But that isn't the same at all as constant snooping, and Microsoft both anonymizes such data and attempts to scrub data not pertinent to the telemetry they are trying to gather.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
3) Yes and no.  They don't go and interfere arbitrarily.  But windows has a firewall (like any other firewall) that can block data according to rules you set up and blocks inbound connections by default.  Some of its programs also have anti-hacking tech in them, such as their browser, that attempts to stop bad links before you click on them.  Is that "interference?"  I'd argue no. Security software has been doing this for two decades.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Now the opinion.  Encryption software has some merit in blocking bad people from seeing your data if they steal your computer.  But installing it to block Microsoft is a non-starter.  The only way that'd work is if you encrypted the data *before* copying it to your computer...never decrypt it on that computer, and then copy it to another computer to decrypt/change/read/etc.   If you run a program that lets you see the data while the computer is has to see the data too to present it to you, which means *it* has access to the decrypted data.  Making the process of decrypting it to block MS irrelevant.

As for the second program.  Its just plain a money grab.  Part scam, part tearing apart the OS in ways it was never intended to be and making the whole computer more unstable with no guarantee it does any good (not to mention that they are as untrustworthy as any perceived spying of MS.)  It isn't like their source code is out there.  How do you know *they* aren't spying on you.

Veracrypt at least has some legitimacy, though it doesn't help you in your case. That other one? not with a 10 foot pole.

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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
Would this be the same Microsoft that included an encryption key labeled "NSAKEY" in Windows as far back as NT 4.0, and includes gratuitous backdoors into all their encryption algorithms for the U.S. government?

"... it’s possible to look at the company’s track record and decide you cannot trust the company in general. In particular, it’s not clear how much users who want to keep their information out of the hands of the government can trust Microsoft, which has a history of working with U.S. law enforcement and spy agencies."

Everyone can and should make their own judgments, but in the past I trusted Microsoft no farther than I could throw a semi trailer full of fresh, steaming B.S.  And since the release of Windows 10, with its numerous backdoors, network bypasses and "instrumentation", now even less than that.
Rich MCommented:
Veracrypt will do nothing for spying, it will help secure your data if the PC is stolen.

Unfamiliar with the other product, but I can guarantee each major windows update will undo whatever that software does.

I wouldn't worry about Microsoft spying as much as our own government. Microsoft 'spying' is for telemetries and marketing.  Others are interested in what you are doing.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Dr. Klan: That opinion doesn't negate anything I've written though.  Storage encryption either blocks the OS from reading the data making the data useless even to the user (which is why a computer can't even boot and needs a recovery key if the encryption key gets lost for disk-based encryption), or the data is decrypted and the OS could "spy" ….you either trust the OS or you don't.  You can't have both.

Same goes with any "anti-spying" software.  It'll either mangle the OS to the point of unusable or the OS is intact enough to bypass the roadblocks the "anti-spying" software tried to throw in it's path. The OS is, by definition, operating the computer and has access to any data on the drive or memory.  

If you don't trust Microsoft; fine.  But the solutions in that case are not the ones present.ed The only vialbe solution is to run a non-MS OS.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
1.      Does Win10 take pictures of documents or open applications on my desktop.
2.      I use charting platforms for day trading, can it observe my activity while I’m trading?
3.      I pay for data that is streamed to my platforms, does MS interfere with this in anyway?
No to all of the above.  This spying you are hearing about is the telemetry data that is sent from your computer to Microsoft.  Microsoft is trying to constantly improve their product. The telemetry does not include any personally identifiable information.  Think of the computer that is in modern vehicles and the data it collects but not shared with the manufacturer.  except that the data collected is merged with all of the users. I am involved in a few products from Microsoft that constantly rate my involvement in the program and performing various milestones.   If I continue with doing the milestones I will continue to be in the program, if not then they will say thank you for your involvement but you are no longer needed and get someone else.

Microsoft wants to know about all of the silent crashes and performance metrics to help remove these silent crashes and to find areas that need improvement.  As a former programmer I know that 10% of the program does 90+% of the work and execution time.  So how do I find out where to spend my effort.. I first have to find the 10% of the program by analysis and telemetry.  Then there are programs that call system functions.. which functions need to be improved. is C++ sufficient or do we need to code in Assembler, is there a better algorithm that we can use to improve it.

Without data points there is no way to really understand how people actually are using the OS..  How many bugs go unreported i.e. system was unresponsive so you hit the reset key.. Microsoft would like to know why you hit the reset key.  They would like to be able to trace back and find WHY your system became unresponsive and if there was anything they could do to mitigate it and improve the user experience.   Its all about big data not about anything on 1 particular computer

Areas such as uservoice only go so far.. If you've ever set up a Certificate Authority you will find that all of the nitty-gritty to set it up correctly is spread out far and wide in the Microsoft Documentation (technet,msdn/microsoft docs, and blogs and the defaults are incorrect.  As an MVP we are invited to help improve the documentation (not sure if anyone can work on it)
Andrew LeniartIT Consultant & Freelance JournalistCommented:
Hi Ana,

1. Does Win10 take pictures of documents or open applications on my desktop.

No, not unless you knowingly configure various bits of software to do so. But if you were to do that, then even Windows versions all the way back to v3.1 could spy on you :)

2. I use charting platforms for day trading, can it observe my activity while I’m trading?

Same answer, no unless you knowingly configure software to perform that task.

3. I pay for data that is streamed to my platforms, does MS interfere with this in anyway?

No, it does not do that any more than Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 98, Windows 2000 etc etc did.

I’m looking at VeraCrypt right now

That's great protection for if your computer is ever stolen. It will do absolutely nothing to aid in protecting you from spying while your computer is turned on and being used though.

and two, would be to install DestroyWindows10Spying, to alleviate the spying aspects

Software like that is a total waste of time and money in my opinion. All software of that nature does, is to give you a different interface to turn options on and off, (like firewall settings and advertisement tracking etc) Everything software like that does - and I do mean everything - can be easily done in Windows 10 yourself. No purchase or additional software required, and if you do it yourself, then you know it's been done properly and don't have to hope that a totally unnecessary software package changed the same settings for you properly.

Let's examine DestroyWindows10Spying's touted "Features"

Destroy Windows Spying is the most popular program to remove spyware in Windows 7, 8.1 and 10
  • The only thing I can say about the above claim is that it is absolute and utter garbage that can't be substantiated. Ask them for proof that it's the most popular program for spyware removal in Windows and watch them back peddle with a bunch of double talk. In short, the claim is rubbish
  • High Efficiency - The vendor is just trying to convince you that their software won't use "too much" of your computer's resources. Given that it does pretty much nothing at all, then I'm not surprised it doesn't need many resources and is quick to use :)
  • Disable/enable Windows updates - Achieved at no cost by a few clicks of your mouse button in Windows 10 GUI (Graphical User Interface)
  • Constant updates - Here they're telling you that whenever another update to the free open source code is made available, they'll update their software for you
  • Disable Windows Defender - Achieved at no cost by the click of your mouse button in Windows 10 GUI - although I don't know why you would want to. Independent AV tests have shown Windows Defender to be amongst the most effective antivirus applications available
  • Blocking IP addresses - Easily done yourself using the Windows Firewall GUI
  • Removing Metro applications - Easily done by using their uninstall routines already built into Windows
  • Open source - That just means they're selling and making money from something where the source was actually free
  • And much more... - If the "much more" was worthy of a mention, don't you think they would have mentioned it rather than keep you guessing?

Honestly, Ana, I'd advise you to save whatever time and money you would spend on this type of software and invest it into something useful, like a Malwarebytes Premium subscription. An excellent product that will give you real-time protection from Malware and Ransomware while efficiently running alongside your chosen antivirus software.

That type of software is akin to Snake Oil that used to be sold as a cure-all during the 18th century. The fact that they can still make sales using identical marketing techniques is a testament to what false promises can convince unwary people to spend both their time and hard earned cash on.

I’m wondering if anyone can explain the scope of MS data collection and your opinions on the two products that I’ve selected to hopefully stop it, and/or your suggestions on how to completely disable Win10 from having access to my information.

That's worthy of a question of its own.

I hope the above has been helpful.

Regards, Andrew
AnaB29Author Commented:
Thank you all for your clarifying and enlightening responses. I had thought of switching the OS first to Linux, but I know nothing about it yet and more importantly, the two platforms I work from require some version of Windows.

I can see that I’ve not fully understood the ‘type’ of data collection that Windows 10 is doing, but my concerns about privacy in general have only been heightened after reading the articles linked by Dr. Klahn.

I won’t bother with encryption as I was only considering it as a protection against Windows’ nosiness, and nix on the other software as Andrew notes that I can manage the same level of security myself within Windows.

I’ve avoided Win10 for as long as I can, but like it or not I have to join the club.
Thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

Andrew LeniartIT Consultant & Freelance JournalistCommented:
You're welcome Ana and I'm glad I was able to help a little. Thank you also for returning to close your question.

With regards to this comment;

I’ve avoided Win10 for as long as I can, but like it or not I have to join the club.

I suspect you're going to be pleasantly surprised after you've used it for a little while. Once you've gotten used to the new interface and configured it to your own liking, Windows 10 is quite nice with some neat features and the OS security, in general, has been significantly improved over previous releases of Windows. I know you had serious doubts about Spying, but Microsoft isn't that big of a "Big Brother" as many overly paranoid people consider them to be.

I've found when dealing with many of my clients that one of their main concerns in switching to Windows 10 has been the rather drastic change to the user interface which they've gotten used to. If that's the same for you too, then this can be very simply rectified by installing an excellent utility such as the Free Classic Shell, or my own personal favourite which is frequently updated to keep up with Windows 10 changes, Start 10, which is free to try, but a requires a $4.99 one time fee for continued use and is created by Stardock Software.

These two excellent shells provide Windows 10 users with a means to bring back the interfaces they enjoyed with previous versions of Windows without affecting or restricting Windows 10 in any way. They both serve to make the transition to Windows 10 a much more pleasurable experience for those of us that don't particularly enjoy the latest Windows GUI.

I hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew
AnaB29Author Commented:
...very helpful Andrew, thanks for the tip on the shell utilities!

All the Best,
Andrew LeniartIT Consultant & Freelance JournalistCommented:
My pleasure Ana and I'm glad you found it helpful. Just on that, when you find comments particularly helpful, could you click the "Thumbs Up" button to endorse those comments? Not just mine, I mean in general. The majority of experts will much appreciate your endorsements.

Regards, Andrew
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