Windows Spy Blocker is a regularly updated collection of firewall, hosts file and Proxifier rules that block Windows 10 phone home functionality.
While Microsoft collected telemetry data in previous versions of the Windows operating system as well, data collection was intensified with the release of Windows 10.
The default installation has most telemetry data settings set to enabled and while options are provided to turn off some settings, some cannot even be turned off in the operating system's settings.
According to Microsoft, the data collecting is all for the greater good as it helps Microsoft make the product better for the user.
While there is certainly some truth to that, it is not the whole story and since no one knows what Windows 10 PCs are submitting to Microsoft in regular intervals, some prefer to block connections to Microsoft servers altogether.
Lots of tools have been created in the past year that aim to help users improve privacy when using Windows 10 machines. You can check out our comparison of privacy programs for Windows 10 for that as a starting point.
Windows Spy Blocker is a collection of rules that its author has discovered while running Wireshark on a Windows 10 Professional system.
The provided download includes a batch file that updates rules files, and files with the latest set of rules as well.
The hosts directory lists three files that block Windows Telemetry, Windows Update, and third party applications (using servers operated by Microsoft).
You can copy and paste the information into the Windows hosts file directly, which you find under C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc, or by using hosts managers which may be easier to use and support extra features such as backing up the hosts file or resting a previously backed up copy.
The firewall directroy includes the batch file. You get a number of options when you run it, including one to download and add rules from the GitHub repository, or to add or remove rules so that Windows Firewall uses them on the computer.
Some hosts are not blocked even when they are added to the hosts file. The author of Windows Spy Blocker suggests to use a top level application such as Proxifier for these instead, and that's what this set of rules are designed for.
You can use other means, like blocking hosts on the router level or hardware firewall if one sits between the device and the network/Internet.
Windows Spy Blocker offers a handy set of rules to block Windows 10 devices from phoning home. While you may be tempted to use them all without verification, it is highly suggested to make sure you are not blocking services or features that you require or use.
This includes Windows Update, and especially so if you are not using other means to retrieve updates for the operating system running on the device.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.