Windows 7 Frequently Phoning Home to Microsoft - how to disable - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-18, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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Windows 7 Frequently Phoning Home to Microsoft - how to disable

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So, if you want your computer to be able to check its connectivity to the internet while not sending your every move to Microsoft, this is a way to do it. As an added benefit, this could be used as a tracking mechanism to see where your computer goes, particularly should it get lost or stolen, since any connection attempt will result in your server being requested.
http://blog.superuser.com/2011/05/16...ork-awareness/

For IT Admins this tip on how to set up your own NCSI server is great for corporate computers. There are other ways by which Windows 7 can "phone home" to Microsoft, so do your research.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 08:16 AM
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Interesting article but Highlighting this as a privacy issue seems silly to me.

If Windows needs to do this check in order to report to a user some very important information (that the computer is connected to the Internet), how can Microsoft do it without connecting to a server on the web?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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To me it's not about Microsoft's reasons for doing it, it's about personal privacy of consumers:
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if you want your computer to be able to check its connectivity to the internet while not sending your every move to Microsoft
This is along the same lines as the consumer irritation with Apple and Android phones secretly sending location info or leaking private data. If this isn't an important issue for someone, that's their choice. If it is, here's the info on how to get around it. Again, for IT Admins, this is another great tip for the toolbox.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 09:19 AM
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But what privacy is being invaded?

Honestly, how would you check for Internet Connectivity without checking a server on the net?

Nothing suggests that the personal privacy of the consumer is being compromised.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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The purpose of this tip is not much different from the purpose of the many anonymity products such as identity and history scrubbers available for web browsers and other apps. As I say, this is simply about a consumer's comfort level. Some of us like to know exactly what our computers/smartphones/tablets are sending out automatically, particularly if the activity is being logged somewhere by corporate entities. If that doesn't seem to be a problem to a consumer, that's fine. If it is, then this tip is a good one.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 09:55 AM
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But your suggestion that MS is "phoning home" is that this is an invasion of privacy and implies something insidious. Suggesting users or IT admins shut it down seems silly since it would deny users some useful functionality.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
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I think you are misunderstanding the purpose of it - this is actually to disable the phoning home to Microsoft by replacing their server with another server so that your Internet connection test still functions.

As for what Microsoft does with the accumulated data - why would they be logging it at all? As the writer shows, there's no reason of technical functionality in the Internet connection test procedure for them to log those sessions.

If you want to give them the benefit of the doubt that's fine by me. If you don't wish them to log such info, this tip shows you how to disable that particular logging of your machine. Consumer choice is great.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 12:26 PM
 
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What info are they logging, if any? Is it personal information or generic? or is it just a ping to a server to indicate the internet is active?

Because if no PERSONAL info is being sent then what is the problem ....

You get tracked more by Google, Yahoo and Amazon thru cookies and advertising then any one else on the net .. including MS.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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The tip is a good one for any consumer who wishes to take steps to disable tracking or unecessary logging of their data by online entities. Check out some of the most popular Firefox and Chrome plugins and you'll see what I mean. For consumers this represents a choice, meaning that it is a good thing.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 04:32 PM
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stampeder, I think the reason people are objecting to your thread title is "phoning home" implies a lot more than what is actually going on here. The "phoning home" term is usually used when describing what software like Adobe CS 5's copy protection measure that involves communicating with Adobe's servers.

That would be like me starting a thread saying that "Apple's computers 'phone home' while using NTP to time.apple.com". A reader would look at the "phone home" statement and assume that there must be some sort of privacy/big brother activity going on here when that really isn't the case because the requesting packet doesn't include identifiable information. If, instead you wrote a title that read "Windows determines Internet availability by pinging a public-facing Microsoft server", I don't think you'd be getting these objections.


Quote:
This is along the same lines as the consumer irritation with Apple and Android phones secretly sending location info or leaking private data.
I think I see where you are misunderstanding what is going on here if you believe that the Microsoft case that you're citing and the Apple/Android cases are comparable. Let me explain: one doesn't have any sort of identifiable information (aside from the IP address it is coming from being transmitted) and the Apple/Android examples can, and usually do have very specific identifiable information associated with them. Fortunately, because of all the decompilers and debugging tools that are available to the security community, if Microsoft was actually sending personally identifiable information with the "ping", then we would know about it.

Your posts suggest that the user would derive some sort of privacy benefit from changing the server that gets pinged, but no evidence is provided to support that view. In fact, the absence of evidence about a privacy violation here is evidence of the absence of said privacy violation.

Does this make sense to you?
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Unbeknownst to the user the computer contacts over the Internet the corporation that made the operating system, which logs the event. It doesn't matter to me whether anyone thinks "phoning home" implies anything or not. It may be a mountain, it may be a molehill, but quite simply, if you don't want that contact to happen you can use the tip in Post #1 to stop it from phoning home. If you are not averse to that contact happening, ignore the tip in Post #1, as great a tip as it is.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-19, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Hey, TechNet says you can set a Group Policy to disable/change it in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/l...8WS.10%29.aspx

So that means it has Microsoft's blessing.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 2011-05-20, 07:18 AM
 
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Great post DancesWithLysol

Thanks for putting this in real life terms so the no one needs to panic and be concerned. The service is to JUST check for internet connection ... nothing more.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 2016-09-20, 02:31 AM
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Anybody else getting this exact same issue on Windows 10?
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 2016-09-20, 01:08 PM
 
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Windows 10 phones home all the time. You can turn most of it off but not all of it.


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