8 settings to change if you’re still using Windows 10

Are you using Windows 10? Change these default settings now.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft Windows 11 the operating system booted softly rolled out last fall and will be available for all eligible devices by mid-2022. If you’re still waiting for the update (here’s how you can download Windows 11 now and skip the wait) or discuss whether upgrading to Windows 11 is worth it, do not worry. You have until 2025 to make your decision. That’s when Microsoft will end support for its old operating system. No matter what you’re using Windows 10 for, some of the operating system’s default settings collect information, make you see more ads and notifications, and can slow down your device.

If you’re a Windows 10 user, you’ll only want to spend a few minutes reviewing these default settings and possibly turning them off, for privacy, speed, and convenience. Here are eight settings enabled by default that you can disable in Windows 10. (You can also see the best Windows 10 tips and tricks and how to fix common windows 10 problems.)

File sharing updates

A feature added by Windows 10 is a optimized update delivery system, which allows you to download updates from other Windows 10 computers on the Internet (not just from Microsoft’s servers). The catch, of course, is that your computer is also used as an update sharing hub for other Windows 10 users.

This feature is enabled by default, but you can disable it by going to Settings > Update & security > Advanced options > Delivery optimization, and toggle Allow downloads from other PCs disabled.

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Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Annoying notifications

the Windows 10 Action Center is a convenient central hub for all your notifications – apps, reminders, recently installed programs. But notification overload is definitely a thing, especially when you add unnecessary notifications (like Windows tips) into the mix.

Get your notifications under control by accessing Settings > System > Notifications & Actions and disable things like Get tips, tricks, and suggestions when using Windows Where Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates and occasionally when I log in to highlight what’s new and suggestions, and individual app notifications.

win-10-notifications

Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Start Menu Ads

Microsoft pushes its Windows Store apps — so much, in fact, that you can see apps you’ve never downloaded in your Start menu. These suggested apps are basically advertisements.

Disable these pesky ads by going to Settings > Personalization > Start > Occasionally show suggestions in Start. For more information see our Windows 10 Start Menu Guide.

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Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Targeted third-party app ads

Microsoft definitely keeps tabs on your preferences and browsing habits in Windows 10. You even have a unique advertising ID (linked to your Microsoft account), which the company uses to show you targeted ads. Oh, and Microsoft also shares this advertising ID profile with third-party Windows Store apps, unless, of course, you opt out of this information sharing.

You can disable this option by going to Settings > Privacy > General > Allow apps to use Advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity (turning this off will reset your ID).

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Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Cortana ‘get to know you’

Cortana, your adaptive personal assistant in Windows 10, gets pretty personal with the information she collects about you. Cortana “gets to know you” by collecting information like speaking and writing patterns and typing history, which you might consider a bit scary.

You can prevent Cortana from knowing you and erase your information from your device by going to Settings > Privacy > Inking & typing and disable the option.

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Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Apps running in the background

In Windows 10, many apps run in the background, i.e. even if they are not open, by default. These apps can receive information, send notifications, download and install updates, and consume your bandwidth. and your battery life. If you are using a mobile device and/or a metered connection, you may want to disable this feature.

To do this, go to Settings > Privacy > Background apps and either deactivate Let apps run in the background, or turn off each app individually.

win-10 background apps

Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

All synchronization

Windows 10 is all about synchronization. Everything – system settings, themes, passwords, search history – syncs by default across all your connected devices. But not all of us want our search history to sync from our phones to our computers, so here’s how to turn off syncing.

To disable synchronization of settings (including themes and passwords), go to Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings. You can disable synchronization of all settings or selectively disable specific settings.

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Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Automatic updates

Windows 10 automatically downloads and installs updates, and you can’t really turn them off. And honestly, you shouldn’t disable them – an up-to-date operating system is a secure operating system. But if for some reason you want to stop your computer from automatically downloading and installing Windows 10 updates (perhaps so you can manually download and install said updates on your own schedule), you can pause updates for a set period of time. Go to Settings > Updates > Advanced options, and under Pause updates, choose a date within the next 35 days. However, you will not be able to pause after this point until you update.

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Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

To find out more, see the best Windows 11 features and how to use them and everything you need to know upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11.


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