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Most tech companies, such as Microsoft, collect certain information about their users so they can provide better, more personalized experiences. However, these companies also often use the data they gather for advertising purposes. The good thing is that as a Microsoft user, you have a fair amount of control over your own privacy. In fact, you can disable Windows 10’s intrusive privacy settings — here’s how.

Turn personalized advertising off

Windows 10 assigns each user an “advertising ID” that is used for ad personalization based on your recent browsing history. If you’d rather see generic ads targeted to you based on demographics rather than your ID, we recommend turning this feature off. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on the search box at the bottom left of your screen. If your search bar is hidden, right-click the taskbar and select Search > Show search box.
  2. Next, type in “Privacy,” then click on Privacy Settings and select General.
  3. Turn off the option that states “Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity.”
  4. Lastly, open your web browser and go to this link. Once there, turn off the “Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account” and “Personalized ads in this browser” options.

Following these steps resets your ad ID, letting you surf the web without targeted advertisements.

Disable Cortana

Voice-controlled digital assistants have become big business. Microsoft aims to capitalize on this market with Cortana, an incredibly resourceful built-in assistant that allows you to quickly set reminders, schedule events, and send emails, among many other intuitive features. However, the way it uses the information it collects can become overbearing at times. Here’s how to disable Cortana:

  1. Type “Task Manager” in the search box, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. In Task Manager, click the Startup tab and find Cortana in the list of programs.
  3. Right-click the row and click Disable.
  4. Open the Start menu, then find Cortana under All Apps.
  5. Right-click on Cortana, select More, and click on App settings.
  6. Toggle the switch under “Runs at log-in.”

Once disabled, the Cortana option disappears and you’re now left with just a search bar, which you can use to search for things online or on your desktop.

Stop peer-to-peer file sharing

With peer-to-peer or P2P file sharing enabled, Windows 10 shares downloaded updates to your PC with other Windows 10 users in the same network by default. This helps other users update their systems faster and speeds up your upgrade downloads. However, if you are unhappy with your files being used by other users, you can turn P2P sharing off.

  1. Click the Windows icon and head over to Settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security then choose Delivery Optimization from the sidebar.
  3. Under “Allow downloads from other PCs,” switch the toggle to “Off.”

If you want to share your files with PCs on your in-house network only, leave this option on and select the option that says “PCs on my local network.” For more detailed instructions on how to stop P2P updates, click here.

Blunt Microsoft’s Edge

Microsoft Edge is chock-full of features — such as Cortana Integration and typing prediction — that send data back to Microsoft. To turn off these intrusive functionalities, open Edge and click on the three dots in the far right corner.

Then, click on Settings > Cookies and site permissions. There you have the option to disable a bunch of settings, such as those related to ads, automatic downloads, and location sharing.

These simple security tips will stop Microsoft from tracking your online activities for good. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for all matters security-related.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Windows 10 features

Windows is the most popular operating system in history, but despite its popularity, many users still do not know about all of its functionalities. Here are some Windows 10 features from the latest update that you might have missed.

Night light

This feature lets you reduce the amount of blue light emitted from your screen, which helps reduce eye strain and boost sleep efficiency. Night Light is disabled by default, so you need to enable it by following these steps:

  1. Click the Start Menu.
  2. Open the Settings app (or press the Windows key + I to quickly open Settings).
  3. Select the System icon followed by the Display option in the left-hand pane.
  4. Set Night light to “On” or “Off.”

Taskbar pin

Opening browsers and typing in web addresses are simple tasks as they were, but Windows 10’s taskbar pin feature makes it even easier than before. This is an essential shortcut for anyone who relies on specific web-based apps such as email or company intranets. Simply right click on the app or document you wish to gain easy access to and choose “Pin to Taskbar”.

Organize your open windows

Do you struggle to organize a screen cluttered with open windows? Holding the Windows key and pressing an arrow should solve most of your problems:

  1. Windows key + Left – Resize the current window’s width to half the size of the screen and align it to the left
  2. Windows key + Right – Resize the current window’s width to half the size of the screen and align it to the right
  3. Windows key + Up – Maximize the current window to fit the entire screen
  4. Windows key + Down – Downsize the current window

When none of those keys are enough to set you straight, holding the Windows key and pressing the Tab button will show you all the apps you currently have open.

Focus Assist

Notifications are frustratingly distracting. Windows 10’s Focus Assist feature helps you tackle this issue by customizing which contacts and applications can interrupt you during predetermined periods of time. Try it out by:

  1. Opening the Settings window
  2. Clicking the System icon
  3. Selecting Focus Assist from the left-hand pane
  4. Adjusting the notifications settings based on your preference

If you wish to disable Focus Assist and receive all notifications, simply click Off.

These are just a few of our favorites. For more software and productivity recommendations, give our experts a call today.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

If you’ve been waiting for updates on Windows 10, here’s some good news and more! Microsoft will very likely release big updates to the OS in 2021. Additionally, the tech giant is expected to introduce new services designed to maximize user experience across a wide range of devices.

What’s new on Windows 10?

Microsoft tends to release major updates followed by several smaller ones meant to implement minor feature changes and improvements. This likely won’t be the case in 2021.

Sources indicate that the first of two updates will be released sometime in the spring next year. It will be a servicing style update similar to those released in the latter halves of 2019 (19H2) and 2020 (20H2). To illustrate, the 19H2 update included improvements in battery usage efficiency, while the 20H2 update focused on enhancing general performance and quality. The spring update (21H1) will likely be in preparation for the bigger one (21H2) coming around the fall.

Next year’s major update will likely enable x86 64-bit Windows 10 to be emulated on computers that use ARM processors. This is good news if you use ARM-based computers, such as Microsoft’s very own Surface line of notebooks. With the update, you will be able to run legacy Windows programs on your device.

Windows 10X

Google’s Chrome OS might not be as feature-rich as Windows 10, but its lightweight nature and simple interface make it a hit among users who want a fast and straightforward operating system. That it is exclusively built into light, compact, and affordable notebooks — called Chromebooks — certainly adds to its appeal.

Microsoft’s Windows 10X is purportedly its answer to Chrome OS. It’s a lightweight version of Windows 10 designed to perform well even on low- to mid-range computers. Windows 10X also boasts an updated, modern-looking interface, formidable security, and excellent battery efficiency.

Like Chrome OS, Windows 10X will be exclusive to a specific line of computers which, according to reports, may include ARM-based and foldable devices. Windows 10X will likely become available in the earlier half of 2021.

Cloud PC

Windows 10 Cloud PC is a service that allows you to install applications to a version of Windows found on the cloud. Both the apps and the OS are streamed to your computer and use very little of the machine’s power. This makes it a great service for computers with low memory or ones that suffer from weak performance. Any apps installed via Cloud PC will appear on your Start menu as if it were installed locally on your machine.

Cloud PC will likely be an integrated service with both Windows 10 and Windows 10X. Windows 10X devices likely will not come with win32 local support, although the feature may be added in a future update. You can resolve this issue by installing your win32 programs on Cloud PC and streaming them via your Windows 10X device.

Microsoft has yet to confirm the exact nature and scope of their upcoming updates and services, but we can make educated guesses. In any case, it seems users can look forward to improved performance on Windows 10, as well as more opportunities to save money and get more out of their tech investments. If you need recommendations on how to take full advantage of these updates and new services, just give our experts a call.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org  SOURCE

Windows 10 backup

Business owners are becoming more aware of the damaging effects of data loss. Companies now realize that without safe and reliable data backup, important business information can fall into the wrong hands or be lost forever. Fortunately, Windows 10 offers easy-to-use tools like File History and OneDrive.

File History in Windows 10

Serving as the main backup utility, File History enables users to regularly schedule backing up of files on their PC and store them on an external drive. That means you can connect your PC to a network or USB drive and make backups as needed.

However, be sure to regularly connect the external drive if you intend to use File History for backups. Otherwise, Windows will prompt you that your files have not been backed up every day. You can ignore this warning at your own risk. If you back up to a mapped network that is unavailable, File History will commence backup in the local disk until the network drive becomes available.

Setting up File History

Anyone can set up File History. After all, it was designed to make data backup and recovery easy for users. By default, File History backs up the main file folders, but you may also pick which folders you want to back up and bring in folders from other parts of the PC to do this.

From the Start menu, click on Settings > Update & Security > Backup.

Once in Backup, you can connect to an external drive. Click on Add a drive to see a list of external hard drives hooked up to your PC and choose one.

When you return to the Backup section, you will see that the Add a drive option has changed to Automatically back up my files (by default). This allows backups to be created at periodic intervals, which you can set to anywhere from every 10 minutes to once a day (the default option is once every hour). You may also set how long to keep the backups.

Restoring files that have already been backed up is just as easy as setting up backups. Simply type “File History” in the search bar. Then, you will see the “Restore your files with File History” folder. Selecting this opens a new window showing the folders backed up onto your external drives.

Setting up OneDrive backup option

If you have access to a network drive or the cloud, back up to it instead of locally. One such cloud option is OneDrive. You can prompt OneDrive to automatically back up your files. Just click on the cloud icon in the Windows notification area, then select More > Settings > Backup > Manage backup.

Not only will selected folders sync in OneDrive, but new and existing files will also be backed up to OneDrive, so they can be accessed using other devices in case something happens to your PC.

Making system image backups

A system image is an exact replica of your entire operating system, along with all the programs, settings, and files. If you created a system image backup using the Windows 7 Backup and Restore tool in Windows 7, it will still work in Windows 10.

To use this feature, access the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) option from the Control Panel. Click on Create a system image, choose where to store the backup (i.e., an external hard drive, network drive, or DVD), and which drives or files to back up. You will then be asked to make a system repair disc, which you can use to start a PC and restore the image backup.

Never worry about losing files in Windows 10. For more tips on how to successfully back up and restore data, contact us today.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Just like its predecessors, Windows 10 is designed to provide a personalized experience to its users. It offers many ways in which you can change your PC’s interface — how it looks, and even how it can be accessed. Here are some Windows 10 customization features you have to try.

Change your themes

The most notable way to personalize Windows 10 is by changing your background and lock screen images. Do this by right-clicking anywhere on your desktop and choosing Personalize. Here, you can choose and preview different backgrounds and themes you can use. You can even add new themes by using images from your gallery or by clicking Get more themes in the Microsoft Store.

Use dark mode

Want to give your Windows 10 an edgier feel? Right-click on your desktop and choose Personalize. Go to Colors. Under Choose your color, select Dark. This changes the colors of your windows and menus from white or gray to black, and text from black to white. The colors on websites and third-party apps remain unchanged, however.

To restore your default settings, repeat the process but click Light.

Virtual desktops

If you’re having trouble separating your work files from your personal files, try creating a virtual desktop. Press the Windows key + TAB to show all your open windows. Click on the Add a new desktop button at the upper left corner of your screen to create a virtual desktop. While viewing your open windows, you can click and drag windows from one desktop to another.

To quickly switch between desktops, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + Windows key + left/right arrow. Remove a virtual desktop by pressing Windows key + TAB. Click on the X button on the desktop you want to erase.

App snapping

App snapping is not exactly a new feature, but Windows 10 lets you snap any app in place. Snap an app window by dragging it into any of the four corners of your screen. This changes your window to a fourth of your screen size, allowing you to view multiple windows at once. You can have a maximum of four separate windows simultaneously open in your monitor.

Reorganize your Start Menu

To add a little more “you” to your Windows PC, you can customize how your apps are arranged on the Start menu. For one, you can resize the Start menu by simply dragging the top or right side of the menu.

You can also resize the live tiles by right-clicking on them and selecting Resize. You can also rearrange application tiles by dragging them anywhere around the Start menu. If you won’t be using a particular application, simply right-click the tile and select Unpin from Start. On the other hand, if you want to pin applications to the Start menu, right-click on an app and choose Pin to Start.

For even faster access to apps, simply pin the programs to the taskbar.

Change color themes

Is the plain black Start menu not doing it for you anymore? Just right-click on your desktop, choose Personalize, go to Color, and select any accent color that pleases you. Tick the checkboxes under Show accent color on the following surfaces if you want this color applied to the Start menu, taskbar, action center, and title bars.

Disable notifications

We don’t know where you stand on app notifications, but if you absolutely hate them and wish to never get them ever again, press the Windows key and click on the gear icon to open your Settings. Click System and select Notifications & Actions. Switch off whatever app notifications you don’t want.

Switch up and personalize your Windows 10 however you like by using some or all of these options. If you want more ways to personalize your desktop or if you need information on anything Windows 10-related, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Windows 10 PC

Is your computer taking a lot of time to perform tasks it used to finish within seconds? Just because your unit is slowing down doesn’t mean you’ll need to spend hundreds of dollars on a replacement. We’ve compiled four ways to speed up your Windows 10 computer for free:

Prevent programs from launching at startup

Windows makes certain programs readily available by loading them at startup. While Microsoft likely has good intentions for doing this, this auto-launch feature slows down your computer. To fix this issue, you’ll need to adjust your settings.

Open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc to see the programs that launch during startup. On the startup tab, you can easily disable any programs you don’t want launching at startup, such as media players and optional accessories that don’t have to be active all the time. But to be on the safe side, keep essential apps, such as antivirus software, enabled.

Get rid of useless applications

Having too many programs installed on your computer uses up valuable memory and hard disk space. This slows down your computer and makes the machine work harder than necessary. Quickly uninstall programs you don’t need by following these steps:

  • Tap the Windows key on your keyboard and type “Add or remove programs” (this will show you all the apps stored in your computer).
  • A link to the system settings will appear. Click on the link.
  • Select the program/s you no longer want, and click Uninstall.

Once you do this, you’ll then be guided through several steps to complete the uninstallation process.

Organize your disks

It’s important to regularly clean out your computer of data you don’t need. Thankfully, Microsoft’s Disk Cleanup tool makes it easy to do so.

To find the tool, tap on the Windows button on your keyboard and type “Disk Cleanup.” If you click on the link, the tool will automatically find files that take up too much memory space, such as temporary Internet and system memory dump files. Just click OK to send these files to your Recycle Bin.

Turn off apps running in the background

You may not know it, but there are a lot of programs running in the background as you use your computer. Microsoft enabled their native universal apps to do this so you can quickly access their features. However, this also slows down your CPU. Disabling them will reduce the burden on your computer and speed it up.

To find out what programs are running in the background, press the Windows button on your keyboard and type “Background apps.” Find the programs you don’t need running and toggle the On-Off button.

By following these four steps, you’ll see a noticeable difference in the speed of your PC. If you want to learn how to optimize your Windows system further or need assistance with your other Microsoft products, give us a call.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Windows 10 helps users by giving useful suggestions as they type and by displaying ads based on their online searches. But these can feel invasive after a while. To ensure your privacy and keep Microsoft’s watchful eye off your computer activity, follow these tips.

Turn off personalized advertising

Windows 10 assigns each user an advertising ID to personalize their ad experience based on their recent browser history. You can turn off the advertising ID feature by doing the following:

  1. Click Start Settings > Privacy > General.
  2. Toggle off the option “Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps.” This will reset your advertising ID.
  3. If you don’t want to receive locally relevant content from websites, toggle off the option “Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list.”

Disable Cortana

Microsoft has ventured into the market of voice-controlled virtual assistants with Cortana. This personal assistant allows users to set reminders, schedule events, and send emails, among other tasks. Every time you use Cortana, it collects information about your computer activity — “learning” it, so to speak — to improve user experience. But if you find this feature intrusive, you can disable Cortana completely with these steps:

  1. Search for the Windows Registry editor in the Windows search bar, or press Windows + R, type “regedit,” and click OK.
  2. Copy and paste HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows into the address bar at the top.
  3. Look for the Windows Search folder. If it doesn’t exist, create it by right-clicking the right-hand pane, then choose New > Key. Rename the folder “Windows Search”.
  4. Select the Windows Search folder, then right-click the right-hand pane and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. Name it “Allow Cortana,” and make sure the Value Data is set to zero.
  6. Restart your computer.

Stop peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing

Windows 10’s P2P file sharing feature enables your PC to share downloaded updates with other Windows 10 users by default. This helps other users update their systems faster and speeds up your upgrade downloads. To turn it off, do the following:

  1. Go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Choose how updates are delivered.
  2. Note that the default setting is “Updates from more than one place.” If you want to disable this feature entirely, toggle off this option. If you want to share your files with PCs on your home network, leave this feature on and select PCs on my local network.

Change Microsoft’s Edge settings

Microsoft’s relaunched browser is chock-full of features, such as web experience personalization and typing prediction. Such features may make you uncomfortable since they all send back data to Microsoft. Here’s how to turn them off:

  1. Open Edge and click on the menu icon (three dots) in the upper right corner.
  2. Next, click on Settings > Privacy and services. Scroll down and switch on the “Send ‘Do Not Track’ requests” option.

There’s also a bunch of privacy and services settings that you may want to disable, such as tracking services, navigation error resolution, block potentially unwanted apps, and more.

For more tips on keeping Microsoft from tracking your online activity and more information about how to safeguard your security and privacy, drop us a line today.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE