It is no secret how much Big Tech companies know about all of us. I bet Google comes to mind first. Touch or click here to see everything Google has on you with a quick download.
It would be negligent not to mention Facebook, which is not exactly careful with your information. Touch or click here to view essential settings to secure your account.
But did you know that Microsoft also knows a lot about you? There is a simple way to see everything. Just follow these instructions to get informed and delete everything you don't want stored.
What Microsoft collects
Microsoft could potentially have an extensive record of its activity. Depending on your settings and the Microsoft services you use, you can track which apps you open on your computer, their location, Cortana's voice requests, your searches within the Edge browser, and even the movies you watch.
Microsoft says it collects this data "to help make your experience with our products and services more personalized, useful and fun." OK so.
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Our starting point on this journey is the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard, which is where you can view your activity history and learn more about Microsoft's privacy practices. Touch or click here to access the control panel.
You may need to log in to your Microsoft account to access this page. The overview area will help you get your bearings and put a wealth of privacy-related links and controls at your fingertips. You can set ad preferences, manage apps and services, and control your privacy settings on products like Microsoft Office.
The office is expensive. I know how to save a lot of money on it.
Touch or click to see how you can get the real software for free, at least for a while.
If you don't need Office but want a robust word processor, tap or click for a great free alternative.
Look for the link called "Activity History" and click on it to see what data Microsoft has collected. You can filter the results by data type, such as voice, search, browser, or locations.
If you don't sign in to your Windows device with a Microsoft account, you may not see a lot of data in your activity history. If this is the case, you will receive a message saying, "We have no data associated with this Microsoft account at this time."
If you agree with what you see, take a deep breath and get on with your day. If you're concerned about the data being collected, you can choose to erase it, more on that in a moment.
Download your data
If you wish, you can save a copy of your activity history for posterity. Microsoft warns: “The downloaded files may contain confidential content, such as your search history, location information, and other personal data. Don't download your file to a public computer or any other location where others can access it. "
To get your information, click on the Download your data link. Hit the Create new file button, choose the data you want to download and click Create file. It may take a few minutes for Microsoft to generate the file, but you can download it once it's ready. Just be sure to follow Microsoft's advice and keep your file safe.
While doing so, you can download all the photos you have posted on Facebook. Touch or click here if you are ready to get rid of Facebook or want copies for posterity.
Delete your personal data
Back in the main Privacy panel, you will see quick links to view and delete your
browser history, search history, location activity, voice activity, Cortana data, and Microsoft Health data.
You may see some warnings along the way that deletion of data will affect the operation of certain services. It is a personal decision whether you want to delete this data or allow Microsoft to keep it. If you are a big user of Cortana, then you can leave it alone.
You can feel completely comfortable with the information Microsoft collects, or you can protect
your privacy to the extent that you want to delete everything. Regardless of what you choose, it's good to know exactly what data Microsoft controls.
KNOWLEDGE BONUS TO BE MORE INTELLIGENT: How to delete yourself from the internet
Microsoft is far from the only site to collect and store your information. Countless places on the web store your personal data, and in some cases, it is easily accessible to those who know where to look.
Tap or click here to remove yourself from people search sites, remove unused accounts, and more.
What questions about the digital lifestyle do you have? Call Kim's national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or see The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here to watch Kim's free podcasts.
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Learn about the latest technology in the Kim Komando Show, the country's largest weekend radio show. Kim takes calls and offers advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For your daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit their website at Komando.com.