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Protect your privacy with Iolo System Mechanic

Worried about Windows 10 leaking your personal information? Here's how to stop it from snooping on you

Iolo System Mechanic is an extensive suite of tools for tweaking and optimising your PC. It Includes numerous features to help you protect your online security, clear out unneeded files and speed up your PC.

Here’s how to use its Privacy Shield feature to disable Windows 10’s intrusive “phone home” features, and other capabilities that can otherwise share your personal information and usage habits with third parties.

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The Toolbox

First, click Toolbox in the program’s left-hand pane, then select Protect to show System Mechanic’s privacy-protection features. Click on Privacy Shield to open the relevant settings.

You’ll now see a set of four data-sharing features – all of which will probably be enabled by default. You can turn them off one by one by simply clicking the Status dropdown and selecting “Disabled”. Before doing so, though, you probably want to know what they all do.

Personal data collection

The first feature is “Personal data collection and reporting”: this is Windows 10’s built-in telemetry system, which collects data on the way you’re using your computer, including details of what programs you’re running. You can disable this during the Windows 10 installation procedure, but if you choose not to do so – or if you choose “Express settings” and accept Microsoft’s defaults – you won’t subsequently see an option turn it off. System Mechanic to the rescue.

Wi-Fi Sense

The next feature is a controversial one called Wi-Fi Sense, which allows your friends on Facebook, and Skype to connect to your home network without needing a password. It’s been disabled in recent Windows 10 updates, since Microsoft recognised the security risk involved – but if you haven’t kept up with the patches then System Mechanic lets you turn it off manually.

Microsoft SmartScreen

The “browser history tracking and phishing blocker” is otherwise known as Microsoft SmartScreen – a Windows feature that aims to protect you from malicious downloads and websites. To work, however, it collects data on the websites you’re visiting and shares it with Microsoft; you may prefer to opt out.

Internet bandwidth sharing

Finally, you can disable the use of internet bandwidth sharing for updates. This isn’t a privacy risk as such – it lets computers on your network share Windows Update files with each other over the LAN, which is typically much faster and more efficient than requiring each one to download updates direct from Microsoft. However, updates may also be shared with strangers over the internet – switching this feature off ensures your bandwidth will be used only for computers within your own home.

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Once you’ve disabled the features you don’t want to use, you can simply click “Exit”: your choices will take effect instantly.

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