User Privacy - Win10 vs MacOS

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Hoff, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. Hoff, Feb 7, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018

    Hoff macrumors member

    Jan 24, 2018
    Hi everyone,

    Does anybody know - is there much difference in levels of privacy offered by either Win10 vs Mac OS?

  2. Kingcr macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2018
    Is there a difference? The short answer is yes. The long answer is: it depends on what you view as important in terms of privacy.

    If you're looking for a "zero-emission" system for example, telemetry can't be completely disabled on consumer versions of Windows 10 purely in the user interface. On the Mac, it is possible to turn off sending diagnostic and usage data entirely. In either case though, restricting this data is only one part of achieving zero emissions and a true zero-emission system probably isn't suitable for general day-to-day use anyway.

    On the other hand, if you're looking to restrict leaking personal information, the online services you use are probably a greater risk than the platform you choose. For example, you can turn down Windows 10 telemetry to the "basic" setting to avoid sending Microsoft anything beyond hardware information (if you trust Microsoft) or disable diagnostics and usage data on a Mac. But using the same online services (social media, search engines, cloud accounts etc) exposes you to the same privacy risk from those services on both platforms.

    Now, it could be argued that Apple's services are more privacy conscious than others' (and that it is therefore better to use macOS to integrate with these services). There may be some merit to this argument. But even then, Apple doesn't provide all the online services that most people use, and their implementation of some of their privacy-oriented technologies isn't perfect (e.g. Differential Privacy - see

    My view is that, as a general user, either platform is okay once their respective privacy settings are configured correctly. The advantage of using macOS over Windows 10 purely from a privacy perspective is probably marginal. Most people probably choose macOS for other reasons.
  3. OriginalAppleGuy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2016
    What @Kingcr wrote is pretty good! I would add if your concern about privacy is more related to Malware, virus' and anything else someone may do in an attempt to steal your data, MacOS is a better platform. Recently, a cyber security firm stated companies who have MacOS as their primary desktop OS are less at risk and therefore qualify for lower premiums.
  4. Hoff thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 24, 2018
    Thanks Kingcr and OriginalAppleGuy. This is the type of info I'm looking for.

    I had a gut feeling that Mac OS would be a bit more respectful of people's privacy than Win10, but looking for circumstantial evidence to back that up.

    Basically with Windows 10 I feel like I have no rights. I cannot make any claims for sure about this, it's just my but after reading their EULA and many articles about it, I get the impression that Microsoft is accessing all of my data - logging my keystrokes, sending my documents to their servers, and basically snooping around every single thing I do.

    I've only ever used Windows 7 (and XP before it) for my work and personal use. I never really felt like my privacy was being violated. But with Windows 10's new, much more aggressive tactics towards harvesting data, I no longer feel anything I do in Windows is private, safe, or secure.

    Why I care?

    I work with intellectual property. Speed to market is key. Security is key. I need to safeguard mine and my clients' intellectual property before it's released to market. I don't want (even to feel like) my operating system company could be sniffing through my files, finding anything out about what I'm working on.

    Also, I write very personal things in my documents that someone else could take completely out of context and use against me. I want to be able to type something on my computer and feel secure knowing no one else will ever read it or judge me for it.

    I understand if I do a Google search while I'm logged in they're building a profile about me. I understand FB is building a profile about me based on everything I do on that platform. That's (more or less) ok. What's not ok (to me) is my local files (or my keystrokes) being accessed and utilized my my OS.

    I want a computer and an OS that certifiably:

    Has no keylogger.
    Does not transmit any of my files (that I create) to their servers.
    Does not "sniff" through any of my files on my hard drive.
    Does not collect, gather, or know about any of my potentially sensitive data.

    I just want to do my life stuff, and have it be my own. Is that possible this day and age?

    I wish it was with Windows. But I fear it's not.
    I'm hoping it is, with Mac OS.
  5. OriginalAppleGuy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2016
    For searches - instead of google, use
  6. conifer macrumors regular

    Oct 30, 2014
    Apple gets a good chunk of its money from hardware. Microsoft is software and services and with it lowering the price for win 10, there is some incentive I think to make it up in advertising like they saw Google do. That said, I think there are some good columnists that will help you be safer on win ( Paul therott used to be one?).

    I heard the writer of the latest Star Wars movie used a dedicated Mac which he never connected to the internet.
  7. Rhonindk macrumors 68040


    Oct 3, 2014
    sitting on a beach watching a DC simulation ...
    Independent of what OS you select, working off-line with highly confidential information is the most secure. Of more concern is the method used for communication to online sites you may require access to as part of your activities. Cloud selection if needed is very important.
    My biggest challenge was the programs I needed to perform my job.
    Use Win7 Ent, Win10 Pro, MacOS HS.

    Both are more than adequate (10 and MacOS). If you use Windows 10, I recommend Pro or Enterprise.
    Like @Kingcr mentioned, it is more the sites you access than the OS.
  8. Kingcr macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2018
    Be careful with all the FUD out there. And Microsoft has previously not done a great job separating its cloud services TOS from the Windows TOS. Also, the Windows Insider program (basically for the beta testers) is far more invasive than for normal users IMO. I'd also say the Apple EULA doesn't make me feel much better than the Microsoft version, but the fundamental risk in either case is probably what you store with them in the cloud rather than what you do on your system.

    I hear you. But just to put this in context:
    - Neither Windows (non-insider) nor macOS have a built-in keylogger in the devious sense. Both can transmit keystrokes back to their respective parent companies depending on how they are configured - for example using the search/Cortana box in Windows 10 and using Spotlight with Spotlight Suggestions enabled. They both do this to provide more, online, information as you type. Fortunately, you can currently disable all of this.
    - In the malicious sense, neither OS "sniffs" through your files. Both OS' index your files for faster searches, and both allow you to exclude locations you consider sensitive. On Windows you can disable Indexing; disabling Spotlight on macOS has some side-effects.
    - From what you said, your last requirement must relate to document data rather than, for example, your location? If so, turning the diagnostics or telemetry down on each platform prevents raw data of this kind being sent.

    It may sound like I'm defending Windows, but I'm really not. I too wish we had more control - which is in fact the whole reason I've looked into this sort of thing so much. I moved to the Mac many years ago, but I've been evaluating Windows 10 because although in many ways macOS offers a better software experience, I dislike hardware that I can't maintain myself (so I'm currently still on a mid-2012 MBP).

    As part of my evaluation, I set up Windows 10 FCU in Virtualbox on my Mac host using a bridged network, and then used Wireshark to monitor network traffic both from macOS and Windows to see for myself what was being transmitted where. Of course, Windows required a fair bit more configuration than macOS - from removing all the bundled apps and live tiles (because they update in the background) to disabling Cortana via Group Policy and so on. macOS is much easier to get to a reasonable state. Then I used each for a few days, but avoiding anything online - so just working on local documents and so on. From what I saw, the platforms behave very similarly. So they both do a lot of what you'd expect: NTP updates, register for push notifications, pull weather information (if you leave the appropriate Weather app/widget in place) and so on. The only major difference was that Windows would frequently download Windows Defender definition updates, and would connect to the Microsoft telemetry endpoints every few hours. Some information I read online claimed that these connections even bypassed the hosts file, but I found I could disable them via the hosts file in my VM. Perhaps something changed between the (frequent) Windows rollouts.

    I still stand by what I said - the actual difference between the two platforms, once configured correctly, is only very marginally better for macOS. Remember that Windows 10 is HIPAA certified and so on, so there's that. For me personally, my trust issues with Microsoft are not so much privacy and data harvesting (all large companies harvest data if you allow them and Apple is no exception) - it's that Microsoft can't seem to pick a coherent overall strategy and stick to it.
  9. janitor3 macrumors regular

    Aug 11, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I use instead of google.
  10. OriginalAppleGuy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2016
    Sweet! I haven't heard of that until now. I like that it proxy's google. Thanks!

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9 February 7, 2018