Microsoft Diagnostic data

In a previous tech tip, I covered How Apple saves diagnostic and usage data on their devices and how to clear this data or turn this setting off completely. Apple is not the only one that collects this diagnostic data. Microsoft also collects a bunch of diagnostic data about your device and your activities in Windows 10, Windows 10 apps, and through your internet browsers to help improve user experience and make future product decisions. With privacy concerns plaguing Microsoft since they started to collect this data, it has always been a concern for users, with many operators worried about their privacy. In a bid to calm down these privacy concerns, Microsoft has been slowly adding tools to Windows 10 that allows users to view and delete what’s being kept about them.

A recent update has allowed users to view the diagnostic data that Microsoft has been collecting about their usage habits and computer hardware. If users don’t like what they see, they can tell Microsoft to delete the data and it will be removed from their records.

What is “Diagnostic Data?”

So wait, What?? Microsoft is collecting data without most people even knowing? Sounds scary but its important to understand what data Microsoft is actually collecting. Generally speaking, the logs don’t contain any specific OS or Application usage data and specific information about the data used within the Windows — such as what web sites you visited or any personal data entered. The details contained in these logs will include hardware and operating system specifications, performance stats, and data about how a particular app was used (such as where and when). This data is then used by Apple to help research issues and track trends if the need arises. In order for Microsoft to ensure their operating system is behaving itself on everyone’s computers, it takes some hardware information and knowledge of any errors that have occurred, such as problems installing Windows updates. In short, Microsoft uses the data to improve how Windows operates.

Viewing the Data

In order to see what kind of diagnostic data is being sent to Microsoft, first click the Start button, then click the Settings cog on the left.

Windows 10 Settings cog

Click on “Privacy.”

Windows Diagnostic Data privacy

On the left sidebar click “Diagnostics and feedback.

Windows Diagnostic Data

There are a number of Options here you may want to look at changing at a later on. For now we’re going to look at the data viewer.

Scroll down until you see “Diagnostic data viewer” and activate the switch. Please note that you will need at least 1GB of disk space in order to perform this action.

Windows Diagnostic Data viewer

Windows will ask you to install the data viewer. Once this is installed, you can click “Diagnostic Data Viewer” to take a peek into what Windows is logging on your computer.

Windows Diagnostic Data viewer

Unfortunately, the data from the Data Viewer isn’t presented in the most readable format! Despite this, you can still see every minute detail that’s being logged and sent to Microsoft to help them improve Windows 10.

data viewer

If you’d like to make a backup of these logs, you can do so by clicking the three bars at the top left, then clicking “Export Data.”


Deleting the Data

If you don’t like what you see and want to delete the data, you can do so by going back to the Privacy screen and clicking “Delete” under “Delete diagnostic data.”


If you want to keep tabs on what data is being collected, the options at the top of this window let you know what is currently being logged. “Basic” keeps logs on only essential system data, while “Full” keeps tabs on the websites that you visit and how you use your computer. If you’d rather not have Microsoft track everything you do, be sure to switch this to “Basic” to only give the bare minimum to Microsoft.


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