How to See What Data Windows 10 is Sending to Microsoft

Microsoft is making Windows 10’s telemetry more transparent with the April 2018 Update. You can now view the exact diagnostic information your Windows PC is sending to Microsoft. You can even delete it from Microsoft’s servers.

A new Privacy Dashboard attached to your Microsoft account is now available, too. It provides a single place where you can view much of the information Microsoft knows about you—and delete it.

How to View the Diagnostic Data Your PC Is Sending

Windows 10 now allows you to view the exact details its diagnostics and telemetry services send to Microsoft, but you’ll need to enable data viewing before you can do this. It’s off by default because Windows needs up to 1 GB of disk space to store the data on your PC.

RELATED: What Do Windows 10’s Basic and Full Telemetry Settings Actually Do?

To enable data viewing, head to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback. Scroll down to the Diagnostic Data Viewer section and flip the switch to the “On” position.

Click the “Diagnostic Data Viewer” button that becomes available and you’re be taken to the Microsoft Store to download the Diagnostic Data Viewer application. Go ahead and do that to continue.

After you’ve installed the app, you can either click the “Diagnostic Data Viewer” button again under Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback to open it, or launch the “Diagnostic Data Viewer” shortcut that appears in your Start menu.

The Diagnostic Data Viewer app exposes a large number of diagnostic “events” in the left pane. You can click an event to view its details, which includes a full copy of all the information that is sent to Microsoft.

You can also use the search box in the application to find data associated with an application or something else.

For example, we launched Microsoft Edge, and then ran a search for “Edge” in the Viewer application. We found several events associated with Edge’s launch and creation of new tabs. This is the exact diagnostic information Windows sends to Microsoft. Microsoft uses it to understand how well Edge is performing and how frequently people use Edge’s various features.

n

You can export this data into a comma-separated values (CSV) file by clicking the “Export events into a .csv file” button in the sidebar. It’s possible that utilities created in the future would allow you to further analyze this data, or you could dig into it yourself.

If you don’t plan on using this feature regularly, consider heading back to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback and flipping the switch under Diagnostic Data Viewer back to the “Off” position. You’ll save up to a gigabyte of storage space.

How to Make Windows Collect Less Diagnostic Data

By default, Windows 10 collects “Full” diagnostic data and sends it to Microsoft. If you’d like Windows to collect less diagnostic data, you can head to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback and select “Basic” under Diagnostic Data. Windows will then send the minimum amount of diagnostic data Microsoft requires. You can test this by looking at the Diagnostic Data Viewer and seeing just how much less data is sent to Microsoft.

How to Wipe Your PC’s Diagnostic Data From Microsoft’s Servers

Windows 10 now allows you to delete the diagnostic data that’s been collected from your PC from Microsoft’s servers. To do so, head to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback, scroll down to the “Delete diagnostic data” section, and then click the “Delete” button.

How to View Your Microsoft Account’s Privacy Dashboard

Microsoft also offers a new Privacy Dashboard website that shows other private information associated with your Microsoft account and allows you to delete it. To use it, visit the dashboard and sign in with your Microsoft account. You can also click the “Microsoft Account portal” link under the Delete Diagnostic Data section at Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback.

You’ll see options for viewing and deleting your Microsoft Edge browser history, Bing search history, Cortana voice activity, location history, and media activity (which music you listen to and videos you watch). There are also options for telemetry-related data, including application and service usage history and application performance data.

You can click the “Activity History” link on the page to see much of the data Microsoft has associated with your account.

You can also download your data should you want your very own copy, for whatever reason.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.