Windows 10 and 11 collect and save your activity history, from browsing history to location information, on your computer and in the cloud.Fortunately, Microsoft makes it easy for you to see all the data they store and allows you to delete it.
Let's explore how Microsoft stores your data and how you can view your Windows activity history.
What data does Windows track?
Data collected by Windows includes:
1. Edge’s browsing history
2. Bing Search History
3. Location data (if it is enabled)
4. Cortana Voice Commands
5. Windows usage of the Timeline feature
If you use Microsoft's HealthVault or Microsoft Band device, any activity collected through that service will also be stored.Microsoft says it collects this data to provide you with more relevant results and useful content.
How to Delete Your Windows Activity History
You can easily see what data Microsoft stores and how to delete it.
There are two ways to clear your recent activity on Windows:
1. From your computer's settings.
2. From your Microsoft Cloud account.
To do this on your computer, click the Settings button on the Start menu.
Then, click Privacy.
In the left column, select Activity History.
Under Clear Activity History, click the Clear button.
This will clear the activity history of the account you are currently using.
If you're using Windows 11, the interface might look a little different.When you go to "Settings", you need to select "Privacy & Security" from the left sidebar.In the right pane, you need to select Activity History.
Click the Clear button under the Clear Activity History section and you're done.
You should also clear the data in the cloud.To do this, click Manage my Microsoft account activity data.Log in to your Microsoft account and delete all types of activity data on the cloud.You need to do this separately for each section.For example, if you want to clear your search history, you need to expand that section and click Clear All Search History.
How to Disable Activity Tracking in Windows 10 Timeline
Back in 2018, Microsoft added a new Timeline feature that tracks all your recent activity on Windows 10.You can view it by pressing ALT+Windows keys.You'll see all the windows you currently have open, as well as all the files you've opened in the past.
This activity is synced across all your devices, so if you want Windows not to store your activity, you should turn this feature off.
To do this, visit the Activity History page as above.Here, uncheck Store my activity history on this device.This will prevent Windows from remembering what you did on the timeline.
Then, uncheck Send my activity history to Microsoft to prevent your data from being sent to Microsoft's servers.Now, with both boxes off, you should notice a lack of activity tracking going forward.
How to View All Windows 10 Activity History
If you want to see all the activity history on Windows 10, you can go toMicrosoft Account Privacy Siteto view.When you visit the site and log in, you will see various categories.Each category will take you to a page showing all the information Microsoft has stored related to that category.
There's a lot to take in on this page, so here's a brief look at each category and what you should check out.
Browsing history deals with the data you store through your browsing through Microsoft's Edge browser.So if you only download Firefox or Chrome with Edge, you probably won't find much data here.If Edge is your primary browser, see what browsing habits are stored here.
Search history is only useful if you're using Bing.When you use a search engine like Google, they tend to "remember" what you searched for to improve your experience.Microsoft uses your search data to tailor better search results, Cortana answers, and future search suggestions.
Location activity includes when you let your Windows device get your location.It's a good thing to double-check this section to see if Windows stores your location.
If you've used Cortana before, voice activity should be a top priority.Here, you'll find saved snippets of your commands to Cortana, which Microsoft uses for better speech recognition.
Media Events is where Microsoft records what you like to watch to further recommend it for you.It's worth checking out if you're getting weird advice because of something other people watch.
Apps and Services covers how you use Microsoft products.This category is divided into two parts; activity refers to the actions you perform, and performance refers to system logs.
You can also click the Activity History tab to see a full list of all data types: voice, search, browsing history, and location.Microsoft also makes it easy to filter to each category with a click.
How to use Windows 10 and maintain your privacy
Microsoft is eager to get everyone on Windows 10 as soon as possible, offering free upgrades to encourage migration.However, users have never considered Windows 10 to be a bastion of privacy.Since its release, users have discovered the way the operating system tracks what you do.
Therefore, privacy-conscious people may be uncomfortable with having Windows 10 on their new PC.If you don't want to wipe your hard drive to install a different operating system, you can take steps to reduce the amount of data Microsoft collects about you.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for Windows 10 privacy.Recommended steps include setting options in the initial OS setup, and installing third-party tools to monitor everything.
Keep Your Data Safe in Windows 10
Windows 10 isn't the operating system of choice for privacy advocates, but you can monitor your data and adjust privacy settings to suit your needs.Now, you know how to see what data Microsoft has on you and how to delete it.
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