Diagnostics, feedback, and privacy in Windows

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Together, diagnostics and feedback are how you and your Windows 10 device tell Microsoft what's really going on.

As you use Windows, we collect diagnostic information, and to make sure we're listening to you, our customer, we've also built ways for you to send us feedback anytime, and at specific times, like when Windows 10 asks you a question about how something is working for you.

Note: Microsoft is increasing transparency by categorizing the data we collect as required or optional. Windows 10 is in the process of updating devices to reflect this new categorization, and during this transition Basic diagnostic data will be recategorized as Required diagnostic data and Full diagnostic data will be recategorized as Optional diagnostic data.

Microsoft uses diagnostic data to keep Windows secure and up to date, troubleshoot problems, and make product improvements as described in more detail below. Regardless of whether you choose to send Optional diagnostic data, your device will be just as secure and will operate normally. This data is transmitted to Microsoft and stored with one or more unique identifiers that can help us recognize an individual user on an individual device and understand the device's service issues and use patterns.

  • Required diagnostic data is information about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it is performing properly. This is the minimum level of diagnostic data needed to help keep your device reliable, secure, and operating normally.

  • Optional diagnostic data includes additional details about your device and its settings, capabilities, and device health. Optional diagnostic data also includes information about the websites you browse, device activity (sometimes referred to as usage), and enhanced error reporting. Optional diagnostic data can also include the memory state of your device when a system or app crash occurs (which may unintentionally include parts of a file you were using when a problem occurred). Required diagnostic data will always be included when you choose to send Optional diagnostic data. While your device will be just as secure and operate normally when only sending Required diagnostic data, the additional information we collect when you've chosen to send Optional diagnostic data makes it easier for us to identify and fix issues and make product improvements that benefit all Windows customers.

Some of the data described above may not be collected from your device even if you choose to send Optional diagnostic data. Microsoft minimizes the volume of Optional diagnostic data we collect from all devices by collecting some of the data from only a small percentage of devices (sample). By running Diagnostic Data Viewer, you can see an icon which indicates whether your device is part of a sample and also which specific data is collected from your device. Instructions for how to download the Diagnostic Data Viewer tool can be found at Start  > Settings  > Privacy  > Diagnostics & feedback.

Specific data items collected in Windows diagnostics are subject to change to give Microsoft flexibility to collect the data needed for the purposes described. For example, to ensure Microsoft can troubleshoot the latest performance issue impacting users’ computing experience or update a Windows 10 device that is new to the market, Microsoft may need to collect data items that were not collected previously. For a current list of data types collected for Required diagnostic data and Optional diagnostic data, see Windows Required (Basic level) diagnostic events and fields and Windows 10 Optional (Full level) diagnostic data

We use Required diagnostic data to keep Windows devices up to date. Microsoft uses:

  • Basic error information to help determine whether problems your device is experiencing can be addressed by the update process.

  • Information about your device, its settings and capabilities, including applications and drivers installed on your device, to ascertain whether your device is ready for and compatible with the next operating system or app release and ready for update.

  • Logging information from the update process itself to understand how well your device’s updates are proceeding through the stages of downloading, pre-installation, post-installation, post-reboot, and setup.

  • Data about the performance of updates on all Windows devices to assess the success of an update’s deployment and to learn device characteristics (e.g., hardware, peripherals, settings, and applications) that are associated with the success or failure of an update.

  • Data about which devices have had upgrade failures and why to determine whether to offer the same upgrade again.

We use both Required diagnostic data and Optional diagnostic data to troubleshoot issues to help keep Windows and related products and services reliable and secure.

Microsoft uses Required diagnostic data to:

  • Comprehend the immense number of hardware, system, and software combinations customers use.

  • Analyze issues based on specific hardware, system, and software combinations and identify where problems or issues occur with a specific or limited set of devices.

  • Determine whether an app or process experiences a performance issue (e.g., the app crashes or hangs) and when a crash-dump file is created on the device (crash dumps themselves are not collected without additional permissions, such as choosing to send Optional diagnostic data).

  • Understand the effectiveness and fix problems with the diagnostic transmission system itself.

Microsoft uses the additional data collected when you choose to send Optional diagnostic data to help spot and fix problems more quickly.

We use:

  • Information about app activity to understand what the user was doing in an app that caused a problem in conjunction with what we learn about the impact of other apps or processes running on a device.

  • Information about device health, such as battery level or how quickly applications respond to input, to better understand the data we collect about application performance issues and make corrections.

  • Information contained in enhanced error reporting and crash dumps to better understand the data related to the specific conditions under which an error or crash occurred.

We use the Required diagnostic data to improve Windows. We use the Optional diagnostic data to improve Windows and related products and services.

Microsoft uses Required diagnostic data for product improvement in the context of keeping your Windows device up to date and secure; problem-solving; accessibility; reliability; performance; enhancing existing Windows features; compatibility of apps, drivers, and other utilities; privacy; and energy efficiency.

Microsoft uses Required diagnostic data for this purpose as follows:

  • Information about customers’ devices, peripherals, and settings (and their configurations) is used to prioritize product improvements by determining which improvements will have the greatest positive impact to the most Windows 10 customers.

  • Information about which apps are installed on devices is used to prioritize app-compatibility testing and feature improvements for the most popular apps.

Additional data collected when you choose to send Optional diagnostic data is used to help make even more meaningful improvements to Windows and related products and services:

  • App activity information helps us prioritize app-compatibility testing and make feature improvements to apps and features that are used the most.

  • Information about the impact of device characteristics, configuration, and app activity on device health (for example on battery life) is used to analyze and make changes that improve the performance of Windows devices.

  • Aggregate information about browsing history in Microsoft browsers is used to tune Bing’s search algorithms to provide more effective search results.

If your device is being managed by an organization’s IT department, there may be additional changes to how your diagnostic data is managed on the group policies set on the device. See Configure Windows diagnostic data in your organization for more details. If an enterprise engages Microsoft to manage their devices, we will use diagnostic and error data for managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting the enterprise's devices.

If you choose to turn on Tailored experiences, we will use your Windows diagnostic data to offer you personalized tips, ads, and recommendations to enhance Microsoft experiences. If you have selected Basic as your Diagnostic data setting, personalization is based on information about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it is performing properly.  If you have selected Full, personalization is also based on information about how you use apps and features, plus additional information about the health of your device. We do not use the content of crash dumps, websites you browse, speech, typing, or inking input data for personalization when we receive such data from customers who have selected Full. 

Tailored experiences include suggestions on how to customize and optimize Windows, as well as ads and recommendations for Microsoft and third-party products and services, features, apps, and hardware for your Windows experiences. For example, to help you get the most out of your device, we may tell you about features you may not know about or that are new. If you are having a problem with your Windows device, you may be offered a solution. You may be offered a chance to customize your lock screen with pictures, or to be shown more pictures of the kind you like, or fewer of the ones you don’t. Or, if you are running out of space on your hard drive, Windows may recommend you try OneDrive or purchase hardware to gain more space.

If you choose to turn on Improve inking & typing, Microsoft will collect samples of the content you type or write to improve features such as handwriting recognition, autocompletion, next word prediction and spelling correction, and we use this data in the aggregate to improve the inking and typing feature for all users. When Microsoft collects inking and typing diagnostic data, it is divided into small samples and processed to remove unique 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 you. It also includes associated performance data, such as changes you manually make to text, as well as words you've added to the dictionary. This data is not used for Tailored experiences.

Note: In previous versions of Windows, the Improve inking & typing setting is not available, and this data is collected when Diagnostic data is set to Full instead.

When you set up your Windows 10 device for the first time, you can choose privacy settings for your device, including the Diagnostic data setting, which you can set to Basic or Full.

During setup, you can also choose whether or not you’d like Tailored experiences set to On or Off. On newer versions of Windows, you can choose whether or not you’d like Improve inking & typing set to On or Off.

If you decide you want to change these settings after you’ve completed Windows 10 setup, follow the appropriate steps in the following sections.

To change the Diagnostic data setting

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback.

  2. Under Diagnostic data, select the option you prefer. If the options are unavailable, you may be using a device managed by your workplace or organization. In that case, you'll see Some settings are hidden or managed by your organization at the top of the Diagnostics & feedback screen.

Note: Windows also has other privacy settings that control whether app activity and browsing history data is sent to Microsoft, such as the Activity history setting.

To change the Tailored experiences setting

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback.

  2. Under Tailored experiences, choose the setting you’d prefer.

To view your diagnostic data

You can view diagnostic data for your device in real time by using the Diagnostic Data Viewer. Note that you will only be able to view data that is available while the Diagnostic Data Viewer is running. The Diagnostic Data Viewer does not allow you to view your diagnostic data history.

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback.

  2. Make sure that the Diagnostic data viewer setting is turned On, and then select Diagnostic Data Viewer.

To delete your diagnostic data

Under Delete diagnostic data, you can delete diagnostic data for your device. Note that selecting this option does not delete the diagnostic data that is associated with your user account, nor does it stop your diagnostic data from being sent to Microsoft.

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback.

  2. Under Delete diagnostic data, select Delete.

Please visit the Microsoft privacy dashboard to view and delete any additional diagnostic data associated with your Microsoft account.

To stop letting Microsoft use your typing and handwriting info to improve typing and writing services for all customers

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback.

  2. Under Improve inking and typing, choose the setting you’d prefer. For previous versions of Windows where this setting doesn’t exist, select Basic under Diagnostic data.

To change how often we ask you for feedback

We will occasionally display a message asking you to rate or provide written feedback about the product or services you use. You can use the Feedback frequency setting to adjust how often we ask you for this feedback.

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback.

  2. Under Feedback frequency, select the option you prefer.

To send us feedback at any time

  1. Type Feedback Hub in the search bar.

  2. Type some keywords from your issue in the box marked Give us feedback to make Windows better and press Enter.

  3. If you find your issue, upvote it. If you don't find it, select Add new feedback, then fill out the form.

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