How to Disable Windows 11’s Tracking Features


Data privacy has been an important topic of conversation in recent years, and users have been demanding stricter data privacy laws from tech companies such as Meta, Google, and even Microsoft. While many legal gray areas still exist that tech companies utilize to safeguard themselves from scrutiny, you must safeguard yourself by configuring privacy protection settings.

There are several ways to disable tracking or telemetry features in Windows 11; read on as we help you take control of your Windows 11 activity data.

How Does Windows 11 Track Your Data?

Windows 11, much like its predecessor Windows 10, continuously collects a significant amount of user data. While some of this happens in the background, most data collection is based on your user activity. Microsoft claims to collect user data to better understand how their customers use their products and improve the overall user experience.

Some methods Microsoft uses to collect data from an average Windows 11 user are location services, cookies, diagnostic feedback, and browser activity in Microsoft Edge. Any third-party apps installed on your Windows 11 PC may also collect your activity and location data.

Should You Be Worried About Your Data Privacy on Windows 11?

As a Windows 11 user, you should be aware of apps that collect your data and understand what your preset Windows 11 activity tracking preferences mean. Microsoft tracks its users to improve the experience of their users, but more importantly, to make advertisements more relevant and personalized.

Your activity data directly contributes to how relevant the advertisements you receive are. To a certain extent, this means that Windows 11 keeps track of the websites you visit, how you interact with ads, your current location, etc.

If you, like most people, are concerned about your data privacy and do not want Microsoft taking advantage of your user activity, you should consider turning off tracking features on Windows 11. Even if you cannot completely disable the tracking features, you should opt out of voluntary data collection preferences.

How to Disable Advertising Data Tracking on Windows 11

If you’re concerned about your data or activity patterns being used by third parties for advertisement, you should consider turning off the relevant settings. To turn off advertising data tracking on Windows 11:

  1. Open the Start menu and launch the Settings app.
    disable ad tracking windows11

  2. From the side pane, select Privacy & security, and then under Windows permissions, select the General tab.
  3. Turn off all of the general preferences by using the toggle option.

Once you complete the above steps, you will successfully opt out of personalized ads on Windows 11.

How to Disable Activity Tracking on Windows 11

Activity history is a shady Windows 11 feature that has plenty of privacy concerns. According to Microsoft, the feature allows users to keep track of how they use their Windows 11 devices. This includes recording what apps, services, websites, and files users have used or accessed recently. If your PC is signed in with a Microsoft account, your data is sent to Microsoft; otherwise, your activity history is only stored locally on your device.

Your activity history is used to personalize your Windows experience and provide relevant suggestions. The Windows 11 Timeline and Microsoft Edge utilize your activity history.

To disable Activity history tracking on Windows 11:

  1. Launch the Settings app via the Start menu.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Privacy & security.
  3. Under Windows permissions, select Activity history.
    clear activity history

  4. Click the Activity history tab and disable the Store my activity history on this device option.
  5. We also recommend choosing the Clear activity history for this account option.
  6. Similarly, navigate to Settings > Privacy & security > Diagnostics & feedback.
  7. Disable the Tailored experiences option to stop Microsoft from using your diagnostic data for ads, personalized tips, and recommendations.
  8. You can also delete existing diagnostic data via the Delete diagnostic data option.

How to Stop Microsoft Edge Data Collection on Windows 11

Microsoft Edge is one of the best browsers around, and it takes your privacy very seriously. There are several different privacy-related options that you can tweak to your liking and level of comfort.

To disable tracking within Microsoft Edge:

  1. Launch Microsoft Edge via the Taskbar or the Start menu.
  2. Click on the 3-dots menu icon in the far right and select Settings from the dropdown menu.
    edge tracking prevention

  3. Select Privacy, search and services from the side menu.
  4. Enable Tracking prevention, and choose the tracking level you want to allow during your browsing sessions.

If you’re still unsatisfied and want to take privacy protection to another level, you should check out our dedicated Microsoft Edge privacy guide.

How to Delete Activity Tracking Data from Microsoft Account

Even if you disable and delete Activity history from your Windows 11 device, there might still be data that you need to data off your Microsoft cloud account.

Here’s what you need to do to clear activity tracking data from your linked Microsoft account:

  1. Login to your Microsoft account and complete any two-factor authentication required by the site.
    microsoft account dashboard

  2. From your dashboard, select Privacy and then Privacy dashboard.
  3. Under the Manage your activity data, you should see several groups such as Location activity, Browsing history, Search history, App and service activity.
    privacy dashboard Microsoft

  4. One by one, select each tab and click Clear all.
    clear microsoft cloud data

  5. For example, to clear the 2,323 instances of app and service-related activity stored by the above Microsoft account, we’ll select the App and service activity tab and then select Clear all app and service activity.
  6. In the popup window, select Clear, and choose how frequently you want Microsoft to clear the selected data automatically.
  7. You can also choose to Download your data to have a closer look at the extent of the data that Microsoft has collected.

Controlling Your Location Tracking on Windows 11

Many apps utilize location services, and while some may use them out of necessity (in the case of map services), others might exploit the location permission for advertisement purposes. It’s crucial you make sure your location data is not being misused by any app on your Windows 11 device.


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