Windows 10 collects and stores a history of your activity on computers and the cloud, from browsing history to location information. Luckily, Microsoft makes it easy to see all the data they store and allows you to delete it.
Let’s explore the different ways Microsoft stores data on you, and how to view your Windows 10 activity history.
What Data Does Windows 10 Track
The data that Windows collects includes:
- Browsing history
- Bing search history
- Location data (if enabled)
- Cortana voice commands
- Using Windows 10 for the Timeline feature
If you use Microsoft HealthVault or a Microsoft Band device, any activity collected through those services is also stored. Microsoft says it collects this data to provide you with more relevant results and content that is useful to you.
How to Delete Your Windows 10 Activity History
You can easily see what data is stored by Microsoft and how to delete it. There are two ways you can delete your recent activity in Windows 10:
- From your computer settings.
- From your Microsoft cloud account.
To do this on your computer, click the button Settings on the Start menu.
Then, click Privacy.
In the left bar, select Activity History.
Under clear Activity History, click button clear.
This will delete the activity history for the account you are currently using.
How to Disable Activity Tracking in Windows 10 Timeline
Back in 2018, Microsoft added a feature Timeline new track all your recent activity in Windows 10. You can see it by pressing the button ALT + Windows. You’ll see all the windows you currently have open, as well as any files you’ve opened in the past.
This activity syncs between all your devices, so if you’d rather Windows not save your activity, you should turn this feature off.
To do this, access the page Activity History as you did above. From here, uncheck Store my activity history on this device. This stops Windows from remembering what you did on your timeline.
Then, uncheck Send my activity history to Microsoft to stop sending your data to Microsoft servers. Now that both boxes are unused, you will notice a lack of future activity tracking.
How to View All Windows 10 Activity History
If you want to see all activity history on Windows 10, you can do so on the website Microsoft account privacy. When you access the website and log in, you will see different categories. Each will take you to a page that shows all the information that Microsoft stores about you, related to that category.
There’s a lot to note on this page, so here’s a quick rundown of each category and the ones you should check out.
Windows 10 Activity History Category
Browsing history handles the data you save through browsing Microsoft’s browser, Edge. Therefore, if you only use Edge to download Firefox or Chrome, you probably won’t find much data here. If Edge is your primary browser, look to see what browsing habits are stored here.
Search History only useful if you use Bing. When you use a search engine like Google, they tend to “remember” what you’re looking for to improve your experience. Microsoft uses your search data to customize search results, Cortana answers, and suggestions for future searches.
Location Activities includes the time you let your Windows device gain access to your location. It’s good to double check this section to see if Windows is saving your location.
Voice Activity should be a top priority if you’ve used Cortana before. Here, you’ll find saved clips of you giving commands to Cortana, used by Microsoft for better speech recognition.
Media Activity is where Microsoft keeps tabs on what you enjoy to watch your recommendations further. If you get weird suggestions because of something someone else is watching, it’s worth giving it a try.
Product and service covers how you use Microsoft products. This category is divided into two parts; activity for the actions you have done and performance for system logs.
Cortana’s Notebook is where Cortana keeps all its logs. If you use Cortana a lot, you will find a lot of data stored here. It’s a good idea to give it a go once to see what Cortana is recording and delete anything you don’t like.
You can also click the tab Activity History to see a complete list of all data types: voice, search, browsing history, and location information. Microsoft also makes it easy to filter into each category by clicking on it
How to Use Windows 10 and Protect Your Privacy
Microsoft is eager to get everyone on Windows 10 as quickly as possible, using free upgrade offers to encourage migration. However, users have never thought of Windows 10 as a bulwark of privacy. Since its release, users have discovered how the operating system keeps track of what you do.
As such, privacy-minded people may feel uncomfortable that their new PC has Windows 10 on it. If you’d rather not scrub the drive clean to install a different operating system, there are steps you can take to reduce the data Microsoft is collecting about you.
Unfortunately, there is no complete privacy control in Windows 10. The recommended steps range from setting options during initial OS setup to installing third-party tools to keep tabs on everything.
Keeping Your Data Safe on Windows 10
Windows 10 isn’t the privacy advocate’s top choice for operating systems, but you can monitor your data and change privacy settings according to your needs. Now you know how to see the data Microsoft has on you, and how to delete it.