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Disabling Windows 10’s Cortana to Improve Privacy

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 8/17/2015

Although Cortana is arguably one of the most useful features in Windows 10, you might consider if it is worth the privacy risk. If you decide it’s not, then disabling it should significantly reduce your data footprint on Microsoft servers.

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    To function properly, Cortana collects an enormous amount of personal, identifiable data, as stated by Microsoft in its Cortana, Search, and Privacy FAQ:

    “When you use Cortana, Microsoft collects and uses information including your device location information and location history, contacts (People), voice input, searching history, calendar details, content and communication history from messages and apps, and other information on your device. In Microsoft Edge, Cortana collects and uses your browsing history.”

    “And other information” is particularly disturbing, because it could pertain to anything, and at the very least adds “speech and handwriting patterns, and typing history” to the data collected, as stated in the Getting to Know You section of Windows 10 privacy settings. It should be noted, however, that recording this data (however it’s limited or not) is not restricted to only Cortana, because in the same section, Microsoft states Windows itself also records such information.

    There are two methods of disabling Cortana. Disabling the Getting to Know You option turns off Cortana and stops collecting associated data in Cortana and Windows itself, which also means dictation will cease to function. If, however, you just want to stop collecting data in Cortana, you can disable only Cortana in the Cortana search pop-up.

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    Disabling “Getting to Know You”

    Disabling “Getting to Know You” 

    1. Click the Start menu and select Settings.

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    2. Select Privacy.

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    3. Open the Speech, Inking, & Typing tab and click Stop Getting to Know Me.

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    4. Click Turn Off to disable associated data collection in Cortana and Windows.

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    Disabling Only Cortana

    Disabling Only Cortana 

    1. Click the search box, select the Notebook icon and choose Settings.

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    2. Click the On slider under the “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more” section.

    Once disabled, the slider should be grayed out and labeled Off: