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The Windows Central (a non-MS site) claims that:

Following are the specific examples of Windows Telemetry data:

  • Typed text on keyboard sent every 30 minutes
  • Anything you say into a microphone is transmitted
  • Transcripts of things you say while using Cortana
  • Index of all media files on your computer

Do all these things really get transmitted to MS if the Windows "telemetry" is enabled?

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    @DanielRHicks: how so? It's a q about a claim about the privacy policy of a big company. – Fizz Jul 3 '20 at 1:32
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    @Bitterdreggs. As stated, the question is about 'Telemetry Data' (whatever that is) and not about Cortana. Cortana is only mentioned in one of four bullet points, and I very much doubt it needs your keystrokes or an index of your media files. – Diego Sánchez Jul 3 '20 at 5:43
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    @Fizz to answer the question some IT background is necessary, and Superuser could be better suited because of its content type. There is some documentation like Microsoft privacy statement from Microsoft you could check and contrast agains the Windows Central claims. – bradbury9 Jul 3 '20 at 7:26
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    There is a tool from Microsoft that allows users to see what telemetry data is generated and sent – bradbury9 Jul 3 '20 at 7:33
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    I have just checked, Windows 10 privacy settings, when complete diagnostics is selected, it can send hand written input and keyboard writting to Microsoft (allegedly to improve hand written recognition and app suggestion). That "feature" can be disable under Windows 10 privacy settings. – bradbury9 Jul 3 '20 at 8:30
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Microsoft calls "Telemetry data" the information that helps them debug potential problems and improve their software.

Let's analyze those individual claims


  • Typed text on keyboard sent every 30 minutes

I have not found any information about the frecuency of the data sent. But the claim is a bit misleading. It is not physical keyboard but on-screen keyboard and is collected only when "Full level" is enabled. For the sake of completness, it does also collect hand written data. Emphasis added:

Text input from Windows 10 Mobile on-screen keyboards, except from password fields and private sessions -- processed to remove identifiers, sequencing information, and other data (such as email addresses and numeric values), which could be used to reconstruct the original content or associate the input to the user.

Source: Windows 10, version 1709 and newer diagnostic data for the Full level


  • Anything you say into a microphone is transmitted

Windows 10 with November 2019 and earlier versions did have a "Hey Cortana" mode that had the mic actively listening with a buffer of a few seconds to detect for those acrtivation words. This behaviour did raise important privacy concerns and today it is not active. The microphone access is managed under the privacy settings.

Source: Activate "Hey Cortana" mode

Personal advice: Never, ever, allow mic access to unknown or untrusted software.


  • Transcripts of things you say while using Cortana

Nothing to add, matches this Microsoft privacy statement


  • Index of all media files on your computer

This seems like a misreading of what Microsoft claims to collect (index of all software installed on the computer and software usage statistics). Do note that some metadata of the files is collected and sent on crash reports. The data sent in those crash reports is not an "index of all media files on your computer". To know what metadata is sent, you can check the previous "diagnostic data for the Full level" link.

How to disable the full level of diagnostics

Note: This also covers other important privacy settings

Go to "Privacy settings"

  1. Under the General tab, disable all the options
  2. Under the Voice tab, disable the voice recognition
  3. Under the Hand writing and typing tab disable the writing history
  4. Under the Commentaries and diagnostics tab, choose the "Basic option" and disable all the other options
  5. Under the Activity history tab, uncheck all the options
  6. Review the different Windows store apps and desktop aplications that can access the different devices. Personally I would disable all of them and allow them only when you notice you need to grant access. For example, Skype users would need to allow access to the camera.
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