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Every Windows version has its flaws and user privacy is one that haunts them all.

In Windows 10, detractors argue, privacy settings Everything You Need to Know About Windows 10's Privacy Issues Everything You Need to Know About Windows 10's Privacy Issues While Windows 10 has some issues that users need to be aware of, many claims have been blown out of proportion. Here's our guide to everything you need to know about Windows 10's privacy issues. Read More  are so scattered across the operating that the average user cannot hope to protect themselves against Microsoft’s purported data mining attempts Microsoft Rejects Windows 10 Privacy Concerns, Project Spark Goes Free... [Tech News Digest] Microsoft Rejects Windows 10 Privacy Concerns, Project Spark Goes Free... [Tech News Digest] Microsoft counters Windows 10 criticism, Project Spark will soon be completely free, the iPhone 6s may actually be waterproof, Facebook suffers another major outage, Coca-Cola pays for emoji, and The X-Files is back. Read More . You might conclude that Microsoft is intentionally making it difficult for you to disable everything. Thankfully, several third-party apps have stepped up.

In this article, I’m going to introduce you to seven tools that make it easier to manage the native privacy settings in Windows 10 How to Configure Windows 10 Privacy Settings During Setup How to Configure Windows 10 Privacy Settings During Setup If you're installing Windows 10 for the first time, you may be unhappy with the assumptions Microsoft makes when selecting their Express Settings presets during installation. What liberties are Microsoft are taking with your privacy? Read More . Some of the tools will also work on earlier Windows versions.

1. O&O ShutUp10

Platform: Windows 10

Despite its somewhat strange name, O&O ShutUp10 is one of the best third-party privacy tools available for Windows 10.

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It features an easy-to-use interface with simple on/off toggles for all Windows privacy settings The Complete Guide to Windows 10 Privacy Settings The Complete Guide to Windows 10 Privacy Settings Do you know how much personal data you're actually sharing when using Windows 10? We show you every single Windows 10 privacy setting and what it means. Take back control over your data! Read More . You can change your security settings, privacy settings, location services, and even Windows Update preferences How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It's designed to operate in the background, automatically keeping your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More .

If you’re not confident about which settings to tweak, don’t worry! The app comes with a recommended setup and offers information about each option. It’s also a portable application, meaning you don’t have to install it.

2. Spybot Anti-Beacon

Platform: Windows 7, 8.1, 10

The team behind Spybot Anti-Beacon also produced Spybot Search & Destroy, a popular anti-malware tool.

Anti-Beacon’s premise is simple; block the tracking and telemetry issues in Windows. If you don’t want any information about your PC usage sent to Microsoft and you’re unsure how to disable everything using native options, this is the tool for you.

spybot anti-beacon

It features a single button labeled Immunize. Click it and the app will automatically disable all the known tracking features, including telemetry hosts, telemetry services, the Consumer Experience Improvements Program, and apps using your advertising ID. There’s an undo button in case something goes awry.

3. Win10 Spy Disabler

Platform: Windows 7, 8.1, 10

Win10 Spy Disabler offers more than 20 privacy tweaks. Options include a way to disable Cortana, turn off telemetry and data collection, and disable lists of recent files and folders.

win10 spy disabler

You’ll find the same level of fine-tuning as O&O ShutUp10, but if you’re looking for a “wide paintbrush”, this tool does a good job. For example, Win10 Spy Disabler also includes system tweaks, such as showing hidden files How to View Hidden Files and Folders in Windows How to View Hidden Files and Folders in Windows Need to work with a hidden file or folder in Windows? Here's how to view them in just a few clicks. Read More and disabling Windows remote assistance, and system utilities.

The developers offer both an installable and portable version of the application.

4. W10Privacy

Platform: Windows 10

W10Privacy offers the most settings out of all the apps in this list.

The app is broken down into 14 tabs: Privacy, Telemetry, Search, Network, Explorer, Services, Edge, OneDrive, Tasks, Tweaks, Firewall, Background Apps, User Apps, and System Apps. Each of the 14 tabs comes with vast numbers of individual options.

win10 privacy

The settings are color-coded. Green is a recommended tweak with almost no side-effects, yellow indicates you need to consider the setting on a case-by-case basis, and red means you should only proceed if you’re confident in your selection.

If you like being highly granular in your approach to privacy, this is the best app for you.

5. Windows Privacy Tweaker

Platform: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1, 10

When you launch Windows Privacy Tweaker for the first time, it will automatically perform a system-wide scan of your settings and offer you some recommended tweaks. Results are displayed in four tabs: Services, Task Scheduler, Registry and USB Security.

windows privacy tweaker

It’s particularly strong in the areas of Services and Registry tweaks, offering some options that the other apps don’t include. However, be careful when making changes to the registry How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother In most cases, fixing our registry will do nothing. Sometimes registry errors cause havoc after all. Here we'll explore how to identify, isolate and fix registry problems – and when to not bother at all. Read More !

All tweaks have a simple color code: red means you’re at risk, green means you’re safe. Not all settings are available if you’re not using Windows 10.

6. AntiSpy for Windows 10

Platform: Windows 10

Developed by Ashampoo, AntiSpy for Windows 10 is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of the apps I’ve featured.

Its raison d’être revolves around four core tasks: letting you configure your security settings 7 Windows 10 Security Features & How to Use Them 7 Windows 10 Security Features & How to Use Them Windows 10 is all about security. Microsoft recently instructed its partners that in sales, Windows 10's security features should be the primary focus. How does Windows 10 live up to this promise? Let's find out! Read More , protecting your privacy, disabling location services, and stopping Windows from sending diagnostics and usage data back to Microsoft.

antispy for windows 10

It gives you an easy-to-understand overview of all your critical system settings and lets you disable each one with a single click. For users who are less technologically savvy, it offers two presets: one which prevents any apps reporting to Microsoft, and one which configures your system based on the opinions of Ashampoo’s security experts.

7. Destroy Windows 10 Spying

Platform: Windows 10

Destroy Windows 10 Spying is the only open-source software on my list. It’s also a portable app.

The app’s biggest selling point is its ability to delete Windows default programs that leak data and are not removable under Programs and Features. It can also remove telemetry data, block various IP addresses, disable Windows Defender, and deactivate Windows Updates 5 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 5 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 Windows Update keeps your system patched and safe. In Windows 10 you're at the mercy of Microsoft's schedule, unless you know hidden settings and tweaks. We'll help you keep Windows Update under control. Read More .

A word of warning: some of the actions offered are irreversible so make sure you create a system restore point before proceeding.

Your Favorite Privacy Apps

I’ve introduced you to seven of the leading privacy management apps on the market, but I’d love to hear your input.

Have you used any of my recommendations? Which is your preference? Did your own personal favorite not make it onto the list? What makes it so good?

You can leave you suggestions, tips, and opinions in the comments section below.

Image Credits: xavier gallego morell/Shutterstock

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