Private Winten: new Windows 10 privacy tweaker with firewall
Private Winten is a new open source software program to adjust privacy and other settings on devices running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.
The program is available as a beta version at the time of writing: make sure you create backups before you run it or run it only on non-production machines.
Users who run it need to run it with elevated privileges. Please note that Windows Smartscreen may block the execution or download, likely because it is new. A check on Virustotal returned a clean sheet.
Private Winten is the latest in a series of privacy tools for Windows 10. It is developed by the author of wumgr, an excellent update manager for Windows 10 that returns control over the update process to users of the system.
The software program has two main functions: provide users with access to privacy related settings, and act as a firewall frontend to block outbound connections by default.
Note: it is recommended that you create a System Restore point, Registry backup, or system backup -- using Macrium for instance -- prior to making changes. The program lacks backup and restore options a this point in development.
The tweaking part of the application lists tweak categories such as Search & Cortana, Microsoft Account, or Telemetry & Error Reporting. Each group lists several options to disable certain functionality.
Options to disable Telemetry, CEIP, Error Reporting or Diagnostics are displayed when you access Telemetry & Reporting. Settings are changed with a single click -- on/off toggle -- and each displays the method or methods used to achieve the goal when activated.
The actual tweaks can be enabled or disabled individually when selected; these highlight the change, e.g. the task that is disabled or changes to the Registry.
A difference to many other tweaking programs for Windows 10 is that Private Winten does not just rely on making changes to the Registry or using the Group Policy Editor. Some tweaks require the disabling of services, scheduled tasks, or the blocking of files as well.
The program is designed for advanced users as you find no description, explanation, or suggestions. Inexperienced users may need to research certain settings or use trial and error to make changes.
The firewall frontend blocks program access by default and displays prompts whenever an unidentified program tries to establish outbound connections.
Firewall management is built-into the application. Private Winten displays all existing firewall rules, programs, and their access rights.
The connection status can be changed in the interface; programs can be removed or added, and a log is available that lists previous connection attempts.
Access can be allowed or blocked; you may also allow LAN only connections, or create custom rules for the application.
The prompts work as expected: they highlight the program name and path, outbound IP, port and protocol. Rules can be set permanently or temporarily, and you may set any of the available rule types, e.g. block or custom, and also to stop notifications only.
Closing Words and Verdict
Private Winten is a promising program for advanced users. The current version is beta and it shows, e.g. in a large number of spelling errors or loading time when it comes to some program options (firewall rules).
The core functionality, the tweaking of privacy settings and firewall functionality, works on the other hand and that is more important than spelling mistakes.
Unless you are adventurous, I suggest you wait for the first stable version of the application before you run it.
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