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10 things to disable in Windows 10

These 10 default features and settings can be disabled. Here's how and why you'd want to.

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Did you just upgrade to Windows 10? Perhaps involuntarily? Welcome to the operating system!

If you used Windows 10's express installation, you might want to tweak some of your settings before you get going. You know, for the sake of privacy, speed and convenience. Here are 10 things -- that are turned on by default -- that you can disable in Windows 10.

File-sharing updates

One of Windows 10's new features is its optimized update delivery system, which lets you download updates from other Windows 10 computers over the Internet (not just from Microsoft's servers). The catch, of course, is that your computer is also used as an update-sharing hub for other Windows 10 users.

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This feature is turned on by default, but you can turn it off by going to Settings > Update & security > Advanced options > Choose how updates are delivered. Here's a more detailed guide.

Annoying notifications

The Windows 10 Action Center is a handy central hub for all of your notifications -- apps, reminders, recently installed programs. But notification overload is definitely a thing, especially when you add unnecessary notifications (such as Windows tips or questions from the feedback hub) into the mix.

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Get your notifications under control by going to Settings > System > Notifications & actions and turning off things like Show me tips about Windows and individual app notifications.

Start menu ads

Microsoft is really pushing the new Windows Store apps -- so much so, in fact, that you may be seeing apps you never downloaded in your Start menu. These suggested apps are basically ads. Thanks, Microsoft!

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Turn off these pesky ads by going to Settings > Personalization > Start > Occasionally show suggestions in Start. For more information, check out our guide.

Targeted ads from third-party apps

Microsoft is definitely keeping tabs on your preferences and browsing habits in Windows 10. You even have a unique advertising ID (tied to your Microsoft account), which the company uses to show you targeted ads. Oh, and Microsoft also shares this advertising ID/profile with third-party apps from the Windows Store, unless, of course, you turn this information sharing off.

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You can turn this off by going to Settings > Privacy > General > Let my apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps (turning this off will reset your ID).

Getting to know you

Cortana, your adaptive personal assistant in Windows 10, gets, well, pretty personal with the information she collects about you. Cortana "gets to know you" by collecting information such as speech and handwriting patterns and typing history, which you may consider to be just a little creepy.

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You can stop Cortana from getting to know you, and clear your information from your device, by going to Settings > Privacy > Speech, inking, & typing and clicking Stop getting to know me.

Apps running in the background

In Windows 10, many apps will run in the background -- that means, even if you don't have them open -- by default. These apps can receive information, send notifications, download and install updates, and otherwise eat up your bandwidth and your battery life. If you're using a mobile device and/or a metered connection, you may want to turn this feature off.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To do this, go to Settings > Privacy > Background apps and toggle off each app individually.

The lock screen

Windows 10 is a universal operating system designed for all devices -- mobile and stationary. For this reason, it has a lock screen and a log-in screen, which is...annoying for people who want to quickly log in to their devices. You can disable the lock screen and go straight to the log-in screen, but you'll need to head into the Windows Registry. Here's our detailed guide on how to do this.

All the syncing

Windows 10 is all about syncing. Everything -- system settings, themes, passwords, search history -- syncs across all your signed-in devices by default. But not all of us want our search history to sync from our phones to our computers, so here's how to turn syncing off.

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To turn off settings syncing (including themes and passwords), go to Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings. You can turn off all settings syncing, or you can selectively turn off specific settings.

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To turn off search history syncing, open Cortana and go to Settings > My device history and My search history.

The pretty visual interface

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Windows 10 has a snazzy interface, but maybe you'd prefer speed and simplicity over visual effects. If that's the case, you can turn off most of Windows 10's visual effects by right-clicking the Start button and going to System > Advanced system settings. Under the Advanced tab, go to Performance and click Settings, then uncheck all the visual effects you'd prefer not to see.

Automatic updates

Windows 10 downloads and installs updates automatically, and you can't really turn them off. And honestly, you shouldn't turn them off -- an up-to-date operating system is a secure operating system. But if for some reason you'd like to prevent your computer from automatically downloading and installing Windows 10 updates (perhaps so you can manually download and install said updates on your own schedule), you can use a workaround -- like metering your Ethernet connection.