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(Updated Oct. 9, 2018) – While the overall reception to Windows 10 has been mostly positive, more than a few IT administrators remain wary of potential privacy and security issues. The telemetry service in Windows 10 particularly irks security-minded IT pros. Why? The default-enabled Windows 10 telemetry feature set periodically sends usage and performance data to select Microsoft IP addresses.

Microsoft says telemetry helps improve user experience and fix potential issues. Obviously this raises privacy concerns for many users. Is it OK to disable Windows 10 telemetry? Yes. We’ll cover managing your privacy in Windows 10, and share tools that clamp down on what data you send to Microsoft.

What is telemetry data?

Windows 10 telemetry data includes basic system diagnostics information, logs of how frequently you use features and applications, system files, and likely more metrics that have yet to be disclosed. Fortunately, Microsoft allows users to set the amount of data they wish to share, but it cannot be completely turned off. Enterprise installations have an even more minimal setting but even then a small amount of security and diagnostic information is sent.

Microsoft splits telemetry settings into four tiers.

  • Security – Data and logs pertaining to Windows security, including client settings and metrics collected from the Malicious Software Removal Tool and Windows Defender. Available only on Enterprise installations.
  • Basic – Device information including application compatibility and security.
  • Enhanced – Everything from the Security and Basic tiers, plus data about how Windows and Windows application use and performance.
  • Full – Everything from the three other tiers and more. This information can include user content that may have triggered a crash or problem.

So what exactly does Microsoft capture and transmit, and how often?  According to InvestmentWatch, Windows 10 transmits the following data back to the company:

  • Typed text on keyboard sent every 30 minutes
  • Transmits anything you say into a microphone
  • Transcripts of things you say while using Cortana
  • Index of all media files on your computer
  • When your webcam is first enabled, 35mb of data
  • Telemetry data

What does Windows 10 Telemetry data look like?

The Microsoft Privacy Dashboard (introduced March 2018) enables you to view and manage telemetry data in Windows 10. You do everything in a web-based dashboard ( upon signing in with Microsoft account credentials.  Here you can view and clear data such as:

  • Browsing history (Cortana-enabled with Edge)
  • Search history (Bing)
  • Location activity
  • Cortana’s Notebook
  • Heath activity collected by HealthVault, Microsoft Band, other trackers
  • Privacy settings across Microsoft application ecosystem

As of Windows 10 v1803 (April 2018) you can view diagnostic data you’re transmitting to Microsoft using Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer. Open Windows Settings, and go to Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback. You will need this install a free Microsoft app on your PC. Click the Diagnostic Data Viewer icon to begin.

Inside the app you see telemetry data grouped by category.

  • Browsing history
  • Device Connectivity and Configuration; settings and peripheral data
  • Inking Typing and Speech Utterance; keyboard and microphone captures
  • Product and Service Performance; reliability data and file queries
  • Product and Service Usage; uptime, apps used, OS info
  • Software Setup and Inventory; installs and updates for applications

How do I turn off telemetry?

To completely shut down telemetry the quick and easy way, Reddit user 10se1ucgo created a user-friendly program in Python that shuts down telemetry and diagnostic services. Aptly named DisableWinTracking, the program can be found for free on GitHub.

Another option is to use the Microsoft Telemetry Removal Tool, which works across Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. It goes far beyond turning off telemetry. The tool will disable your Windows Update settings, SkyDrive, and several other useful features. In short, it shuts down all the features that Windows 10 automates.

But keep in mind the fact that you’re running third party scripts and applications to fix a privacy issue. If sending Microsoft your telemetry data makes you feel squeamish, running a program from an unverified source probably does the same. So then what?

Disabling telemetry the manual way

Thankfully, there is documentation for turning off telemetry manually. Microsoft has published a TechNet article detailing how to disable certain features for Enterprise users. For users of Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Home, Reddit user lit3brit3 has compiled a list of common settings that controls the amount of telemetry collected and sent. Instead of running a script you can change each of these settings manually. It’s more time consuming, but cuts out any risk that you’re introducing anything malicious into your system.

Microsoft assures users that they collect telemetry data only to help them improve user experience and fix bugs and problems. Still many system administrators don’t want sensitive user or company information sent over the Internet. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments if you support or are against the gathering of Windows 10 telemetry.

Originally published Oct. 14, 2015 and updated Oct. 9, 2018

Should You Disable Windows 10 Telemetry? - HardBoiled
Article Name
Should You Disable Windows 10 Telemetry? - HardBoiled
The gathering of Windows 10 telemetry is an issue for privacy-minded users that don't want their data online. But what is really sent and does it matter?
Wallace Chu

Author Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

More posts by Wallace Chu

Join the discussion 40 Comments

  • David Nystrom says:

    I am against telemetry for myself and other privacy conscious power users and this is a major reason I have banned Windows 10 at our company.

    But I understand why Microsoft is doing this. Not only will it give them useful data to more responsively fix flaws and security problems, but most important the average PC user is a careless, incompetent moron.

    We saw Microsoft begin tackling the extreme danger ordinary PC users constitute to themselves and others with Windows Vista, and Windows 10 is merely the latest log example of that trend.

    Sadly, it probably won’t be enough. I don’t know that anything can save ordinary PC (and smartphone…) users from themselves.

  • agudeza says:

    If Microsoft is only collecting data for the purpose of improving user experience and resolve issues related to hardware and software, then I am the President of the United States.

    Why does someone’s real name and every character they type as well as web browsing habits and history have to be collected? First off, if a user is securing their browser from the online threats and harassment via advertisements and other online entities trying to extract this very same information, then Microsoft should not be permitted to use their leverage as the OS developer to get around end user road-blocks. I am preventing every online entity from accessing this information & that means Microsoft too. They are using their leverage as the OS developer as a vehicle to get around all that security we put in place in hopes they can become one of the most powerful information broker in the world. Do not pretend this isn’t what they are doing

  • Rich says:

    Couldn’t be more against Microsoft transmitting my keyboard input and media files to themselves and to the US government (which can access everything that goes over the Internet).
    Maybe their intentions are good and pure. Maybe the data is encrypted with the latest techniques.
    Doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t happen.
    For goodness sake, we don’t trust the NSA with phone call metatdata, but a private corporation can spy on our PCs? I don’t think so.
    They’ll be sorry when this goes to court – they should stop this and cut their losses ASAP.

  • This sounds an awful lot like an illegal wiretap dressed up inside a gift basket. I think Microsoft needs to modify Telemetry so that it doesn’t look like are trying to get away with violating our rights.

  • Sue says:

    I am an American Citizen. I have a 4th Amendment. For a company to take advantage of it’s customers for whatever reason, is despicable. If they ran their customer service in a responsible manner, they could get all the generic information as to what is not working on their product and make corrections/modifications from there. In the long run, it is much easier to keep our freedoms than to TRY to get them back after they have been carelessly lost.

  • Robert says:

    It was pretty trivial for me to block the various telemetry domains and ip’s at the firewall.

    Which means it would have been equally trivia for anyone upstream to appropriate that data.

    I wonder how much intellectual property was unknowingly disclosed to third parties by early adopters.

    Never be the first pig to the trough

  • tickle pickle says:

    An apple brainwashed slave detected here. keep it up. what is the last time you used terminal to do your chore on a “whack”book you genius scientist.

  • Bill P says:

    If Windows telemetry is ONLY collecting information, then why does diagtrack.dll need to have registry key create, modify and delete abilities? Found this site that lists the links, export and import of functions of dll’s and it shows that diagtrack.dll has alot more power than it needs for just collecting data.

  • connorearly says:

    The privacy part doesn’t bother me too much, but the fact that Telemetry is hogging up massive amounts of disk usage and slows down my PC a ton does. If telemetry could run in the background without keeping me from doing my usual work, I have no problem with it.

  • Oliver Pyke says:

    I would be much more comfortable if we had:
    a. Read/Delete access to the data
    b. Tools to decipher it if necessary
    c. The ability at the server side to turn it off, or set its detail (including Security for Home users)
    d. PK Cryptographic security used to enable me to determine who can read the data. I am a software developer and not a security expert, but I would like to be able to determine who can read the data. I am not sure if this is possible in this scenario.

    Microsoft have caused a lot of mistrust due to a lack of transparency and control by admins and users.

  • Omen says:

    Hm, the telemetry is sending per second more data than all spies of the cold war collected during their dirty lifes together 🙁

  • Joe Cassara says:

    1. Run the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) and navigate to the following:

    Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Internet Communication Management > Internet Communication

    2. Double-click “Turn off Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program”

    3. Select “Enabled” radio button, click Apply button, then “OK” button.

    There is no need to resort to uninstalling the entire telemetry system, nor running batch files (that’s not Python) from unknown Reddit users that go too far.

  • Makram says:

    what about usage, privacy issue or not, is it worth it to reduce disk drive usage by shutting this down?

  • John says:

    Microsoft Windows Telemetry is just a part of their spyware system. If Microsoft wanted to improve user experience they would go back to Windows 3.1 user interface and make everyone happy. Windows 10 user experience is worst than ever: bloated and inconsistent. It looks like designed by imbeciles. How bad the system has to be written if it needs constant updates and can not run without a antivirus. Looks like it they are making holes in the system for a reason.

  • Rugeirn Drienborough says:

    Sure, go ahead and shut down Windows 10 telemetry–if you can; I know of no way ordinary users can confirm they’ve succeeded in doing so. So what? Every other product you have on your computer is potentially sending data to somebody. Clear back in the 80’s, some people realized that privacy is dead. For some reason, most people have a hard time understanding that those people were right. Privacy is dead. Learn to live in the fishbowl. It’s your only option.

  • J Semrod says:

    Against!!!! Microsoft doesn’t need all the data they are grabbing!

  • Glaneon says:

    This is still occurring and wreaking havoc on poor spinner hard drives. The random (deliberate) performance issues (caused by Microsoft proceses) inherent in Windows 10 (specifically) are not doing Microsoft any favors.

  • Pax says:

    Okay, I get the telemetry thing. I get the diagnostics thing. I even get the “we want to improve Windows and make it better” thing. What I don’t get is why the service that supposedly helps to improve Windows and make it better actually prevents it from working properly. Does the telemetry service report on itself and let Microsoft know what it is using up all the resources, preventing the computer from going online, and causing every single freaking program to hang or crash while it does its thing for half an hour? What else I don’t get is why my keyboard use and microphone speech are transmitted back to Microsoft. Should I be randomly typing and recording vocal complaints about Windows issues? Because if I use their “community”, I sure as heck don’t ever hear back from them.

  • Brent Beach says:

    Every time I turn on my laptop some stupid Microsoft service or other takes it over for 10 or 15 or 30 minutes so I can do nothing. There are enough of these stupid services that while each one only aggravates me 1 every few months, I am still inconvenienced every time I use the laptop.
    Cortina is the main drain on the battery even thought I have it as disabled as I can get it.
    Nice of Microsoft to let me use my laptop for my own ends now and then.

  • encryptedpotato says:

    Is anyone going to actually discuss how the proposed fixes work or are we all just going to jerk each other off on how evil Microsoft and the NSA are? For fucks sake people…

  • Steve says:

    Nothing short of total spyware. A keylogger + much much more.

  • langham1828 says:

    If Microsoft just listened to the complaints of users on so many different forums (and acted on them) there would be no use for this telemetry codology.

  • cip says:

    The guy in the picture from the top of the page hold in his hands a wooden crafted wind instrument(more like a horn). That has no optical properties whatsoever. funny trough.

  • Marine Recon says:

    Wallace Chu: Thank you for your work re: 14th October 2015 article: Should You Disable Windows 10 Telemetry. It was clear, concise, comprehensive, and most importantly gave us full disclosure and link resources (allowing us to decide). May the Greatest Blessing be yours.

  • Marine Recon says:

    Wallace Chu – Don’t Hide! (joke) Update your photo – the current one is underexposed and we can’t see you.

  • zungada says:

    Amen to that…!!!

  • phil says:

    if U R paranoid don’t use the www

  • Dave says:

    If Microsoft has access to it, who else has hacked and also using the same software to spy on you and every keystroke, LINUX has issues the problem is put out into the community and the community solves the issues. Free software yes, but the community controls it, but they recieve billions from mainframe and server systems designers to protect privacy, in fact US security panel wanted a back door into LINUX Kernel, they want access and the community rightfully said “Go F*** yourself” I used it since Win 95 came out and am very pleased by the customization and lack of adware infecting my systems

  • James Walker says:

    @Sue, doesn’t matter whether you are Femerican citizen or not! No body wants their privacy, personal information and browsing trends to be watched on (and get collected!). And you are talking about 4rth amendment !? Shadow number plates (to escape/cheat Traffic CCTVs), Deliberately crossing Red Signals, Mass shootings, Degenerate marches and walks; and talking about being a “Femerican” !!

  • Mike Cooper says:

    Wait, so EVERYTHING I type on my keyboard is automatically recorded and sent every 30 mins or so? Wow, I never knew that before…creepy.

  • Joy says:

    Every time I have an issue with my hard drive spinning constantly and internet bandwidth somehow being eaten up even though I don’t have so much as a browser open, I find Microsoft’s hand in it. Now I know why this occurs so frequently. Linus is looking better and better. Thanks for the tip until I get it installed.

  • Meh says:

    Since Windows security is mostly an illusion hidden behind a paywall like everything else, its probably better to just go ahead and use an unverified completely and unsafe app to disable its innards. Heck most the world runs on pirated Windows what another app stopping folks from plucking some Windows junk?

    Other ways to do it?

    – Registry
    – Powershell
    – NtLite

  • Joy says:

    Wow! I had no idea they were collecting all my keyboard strokes and microphone usage. To improve my user experience? I don’t think so. Linux is looking better and better.

  • DW says:

    The software said “windows 8 or better”, so I installed LINUX, my system runs 24/7 which is next to impossible with Windows, tends to load up after many hours of transmitting all of my info to MS, updates horrifically long to do and then reboot a couple of times etc. . . Switched to Linux back around Win95 era and haven’t looked back, nothing I can do on Winders that I can’t do on Linux. Prefer Firefox over Google Chrome because Google is just as bad at attempting to pull data from my PC as MS. Plus can get cool 3d desktop and a variety of desktops, not stuck with ugly baby blue icon ridden slow lethargic and fatal error blue screens operation that windows promises. 3PC’s in house, all three personal machines run on Linux and very happy. Hiccups are rare, and when they happen are usually very easy to fix, viruses are also rare and cost nothing to fix (other than the time spent updating or installing a patch) ransomware easily killed by rebooting the browser, if you are a security nut you can install TOR and TAILS, works great for the novice all the way up to the power user. . . . kicker, won Jeopardy in 2011. AI, yep been there done that, most software can be downloaded for free, gamers love STEAM, systems tend to run cooler and not require super duty hardware MS requires, telemetry pretty much limited to hardware and dependencies required by software. Choose your distro (over 200) and try it out, a word of warning though, some systems won’t run properly, HP laptops don’t tend to work well with Linux, do some investigating to comparability requirements. You love some Windows programs you can’t get on Linux?. . .no problem, install virtual box and run windows there BTW (Virtual Box is also Free) Linux cannot properly run in a Windows Virtual machine because MS won’t allow some vital connections to make Linux work properly.

  • Joy says:

    Well, now I’m bummed. I have two HP laptops and was planning on putting Linux on one. What are the Linux problems with HP’s?

  • Stymie says:

    I really wish you wouldn’t spread fake news in what are supposed to be tech articles. The InvestmentWatch article is bogus. Your other data and information is taken out of context and completely misleading or just wrong. It doesn’t appear that you really know the content you are writing about. This article is probably better

  • John IL says:

    I just think Microsoft collects so much telemetry now with Windows 10 I cannot imagine how they could use it efficiently anyway? I can see sending crash info or error reports occasionally. But beyond that the creep factor goes up when it starts to collect data on a users history of what they do on their device. Basic telemetry is probably the maximum I would ever choose as a individual and none would be required on any sort of business device. I cannot imagine though how many people buy a PC and select the default settings not aware of how much telemetry they are providing to Microsoft.

  • Killjoy says:

    Everyone knows windows is spyware, always has been. What’s the debate?

What's your take?