Tracking services are widely utilized in the e-commerce and shipping industries and provide users with valuable information about their package’s location and estimated delivery date. Unfortunately, such tracking capabilities are also located within several personal electronic devices, including your own PC. While such services can be crucial to finding a lost or stolen device, they can also lead people right to your approximate physical location. If you take your personal and digital privacy seriously, check out these five tricks for stopping tracking on your PC and keeping yourself and your data as safe as possible.
You might wonder how disabling personalized ads will impact your overall PC security, but this is the first and arguably the easiest way to prevent Microsoft from collecting information about your location, browsing habits, and more. Although personalized ads might seem benign, they are created due to information collected via tracking services embedded in your PC.
Windows 11 users must open the Settings Menu by opening the Start Menu and selecting the gear icon or using the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut. From the Settings Menu, click Privacy & Security > General Tab, then switch off the appropriate toggle to prevent the creation of personalized ads. You can disable all tabs for maximum privacy, but this will limit your ability to receive ads, so keep that in mind.
In a notable improvement from Windows 10 privacy options, users of Windows 11 can choose whether to share optional diagnostic data about their PC with Microsoft. Per Microsoft’s website, categories of optional diagnostic data include device connectivity and configuration, product and service performance, product and service usage, and software setup and inventory.
Windows 11 users must open the Settings Menu by opening the Start Menu and selecting the gear icon or using the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut. From the Settings Menu, click Privacy & Security > Diagnostics & Feedback, then switch off the appropriate toggle to prevent optional data from being shared with Microsoft.
The Activity History feature allows you to resume your given activities when using different devices that share your Microsoft account’s login credentials. It also keeps track of data, including your use of apps and services, a history of your general activities, and information on the type of websites you frequently visit. While this feature can be helpful in specific circumstances, it can also give anyone with access to your devices and credentials detailed information about your digital habits and behaviors. Although Windows 10 allows users to prevent sending data about their Activity History to Microsoft, Windows 11 does not offer the same ability.
Windows 11 users must open the Settings Menu by opening the Start Menu and selecting the gear icon or using the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut. From the Settings Menu, click Privacy & Security > Activity History, then uncheck the appropriate checkbox to prevent your activity history from being stored on your PC. You will also have the option to press the Clear button to delete any existing data and create a clean slate.
If you own a smartphone, tablet, or other personal electronic devices, you are likely aware that some apps need access to your location to provide the best and most accurate services. Given the potential risk to your safety and the safety of your personal data, if your smartphone’s location is compromised, the risk for tracking your PC’s location is equal, if not greater. While Windows 11 allows users to set individual Location Services options for each app, the safest option is to disable Location Services entirely to prevent your PC from being tracked.
Windows 11 users must open the Settings Menu by opening the Start Menu and selecting the gear icon or using the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut. Click Privacy & Security > Location from the Settings Menu, then switch off the Location Services toggle.
Your camera and microphone are crucial tools for using many apps, especially those related to communication and team projects. However, they are also potential vulnerabilities that can be used for tracking purposes. Whether as spyware or malware disguised as apps or simply ethically questionable permissions granted by legitimate companies, the best solution for your privacy is to ensure that both your camera and microphone are switched off unless they are used with your explicit permission.
Windows 11 users must open the Settings Menu by opening the Start Menu and selecting the gear icon or using the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut. From the Settings Menu, click Privacy & Security > Camera or Microphone. Like the Location Services Menu, you can toggle permissions individually for each app or simply switch off access to your camera and microphone access unless you approve.
There are several more complex and costly options to prevent your PC from being tracked, such as VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), TOR Onion routing, privacy-oriented operating systems and more, but these tips are the easiest and cheapest ways to minimize PC tracking on your device. Consider learning more about such apps and services to improve your security and further prevent your PC from being tracked.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Dan VanPatten: Dan is a full-time technology writer with interests in gaming, gadgetry, and all things PC tech related. He writes about a variety of topics including technology news, product reviews, and software. His experience stems from years of experience writing & producing content for technology newsletters & publications.