If you’ve installed Windows 10, you may be unwittingly giving away more personal information to Microsoft than you realise.

By selecting the ‘Express Settings’ during installation, you’re opting in to allow Microsoft to collect personal data.

[Read more: How to restart Windows 10 - and whatever happened to Safe Mode]

In its privacy statement, Microsoft says it collects this to provide a better experience – for instance, location data to create a more personal user experience and more relevant adverts.

Some of this is collected through day-to-day tasks like searching Bing, explains the company: “Microsoft collects data to operate effectively and provide you the best experiences with our products. You provide some of this data directly, such as when you create a Microsoft account, submit a search query to Bing, speak a voice command to Cortana, upload a document to OneDrive, purchase an MSDN subscription, sign up for Office 365, or contact us for support.

“We get some of it by recording how you interact with our products by, for example, using technologies like cookies, and receiving error reports or usage data from software running on your device. We also obtain data from third parties.”

Fortunately it’s easy to change the settings by following the stops below:

How to change Windows 10 privacy settings

Click the Start button and select Settings – Privacy. We recommend you read each of the options carefully, but the three below are definitely worth examining.

1: Change Privacy Options

Click General and you’ll see six options. We suggest turning the sliders next to 1, 3 and 4 from On to Off. 1: Let apps use my advertising ID; 3: Send Microsoft info about how I write and 4: Let websites provide locally relevant content. Leave 2: SmartScreen On – this is a filter that looks out for phishing websites.

How to change Windows 10 privacy settings

2: Cortana

Click Speech, inkling & typing.  Personal assistant Cortana collects information such as contacts, speech patterns and typing history to create a picture of you so it can tailor search responses accordingly.

Click Stop getting to know me to clear what it knows about you and turn off Cortana. This means it won’t collect information, but it won’t work either. It’s up to you whether you want to use this feature or not.

Stop sharing data with Cortana

3: Feedback & diagnostics

Still in the privacy menu, click ‘Feedback & diagnostics’. When you use Windows 10, information is automatically sent back to Microsoft: this is performance data that includes any problems you may encounter, which Microsoft uses to make improvements.

You can’t opt out of sending updates to Microsoft, but using the drop-down menu it’s possible to limit how much information you send back.

Basic: Data you send back here is vital to ensure Windows and its apps runs properly. It allows Microsoft to provide updates to Windows, but some apps and features may not work correctly.

Enhanced: The same information as above is provided, along with information about how you use Windows. This includes how long you use Windows and what apps you use. Microsoft collects diagnostic information.

Full data: Microsoft recommends this version for what it says is the best Windows experience. As well as the duo above it also collects extras such as system files, which can include parts of documents you are working on, although Microsoft says:  “If an error report contains personal data, we won’t use that information to identify, contact, or target advertising to you. “

Limit the amount of feedback data you provide Microsoft

Have you adjusted your Privacy settings? Let us know how it went in the Comments box below.

Article updated by Jamie Harris on 25/11/2016.