Just about every device and service in existence today has some form of data collection associated with it. Android devices, iOS devices, Windows devices, and everything else in between. While this data is supposed to be anonymised to prevent individual user identification that isn’t always the case. Thankfully there are a few things you can do to prevent or at least reduce the amount of data being collected from your devices. But first, we need to remove data that’s already been captured.
Although most people aren’t even aware, it’s possible to delete the usage data that has already been collected. For example, if you have a Microsoft Account which you use for a range of things, including using it on your Windows computer and Xbox console. You have the ability to delete most of the data that is associated with your usage. Things such as:
- Info about what apps and services you use and how you use them.
- A range of additional diagnostic data on your Windows device. Both hardware and software.
- Your search history.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to clear all of the collected data which is an important step in maintaining your privacy and security online. Sadly it’s impossible to block collection entirely, though there are some steps you can take to reduce the amount of data collected and stored. For Google Accounts you can even set automatic periodic data deletion. But for now, Microsoft hasn’t adopted that feature.
Just in case you might have second thoughts about clearing data linked to your Microsoft account, it’s important to know that clearing your Microsoft activity data will delete all the records of your previous activity. Once you clear the data, it cannot be recovered. Once you are sure you want to clear the data, you can follow the steps shown below.
- Go to the Microsoft account website and sign in with your Microsoft account.
- Next, click on the “Privacy” tab in the navigation menu near the top of the screen.
- Under the “Manage your activity data” section, you will see a list of options you can expand. Simply click “Clear activity history.” where available.
- A pop-up window will appear, asking you to confirm your decision. Click “Clear now” to confirm.
Your activity history will now be cleared from the Microsoft account website. In addition to clearing your activity history, you should also take the time to check all of the other settings on this page. Here you can also adjust location data, search history, and browsing history. Keep in mind that clearing your Microsoft activity data will not prevent Microsoft or other third-party companies from collecting data about you in the future. To further protect your privacy online, you may want to consider using a virtual private network (VPN) and privacy-focused browser extension/s that blocks tracking cookies.
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