Anti-virus company Avira’s latest application isn’t so much about protecting your computer from viruses as it is about giving you more control over the personal data collected by your web browser and other apps.
It’s a free application called Privacy Pal that lets you delete the cookies, cache, browsing history, download history, and other data from all your web browsers at once. But it can also remove Skype chat logs and stop Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant from tracking your location, calendar, and contacts, among other things.
The browser cache, cookie, and history deletion tools are pretty straightforward. Just run Privacy Pal, toggle the boxes next to the type of data you want to clear, and click clean. Or you can hit the little pencil/edit buttons next to each option for more granular controls if you want to delete just some of your cookies, cache, or other data.
Things get a little more complicated if you want to delve into the app’s other settings to adjust your privacy level. If you’re lazy you can just choose from Basic or Enhanced mode. But there are a ton of granular options available in the Personalized mode.
Here’s how Avira describes those three modes:
- Basic – Enjoy basic privacy protection, and remove tailored ads
- Enhanced – Includes Basic, plus prevents apps from collecting your private data
- Personalized – Have full control over your privacy protection
If you click the edit button next to the Personalized option, you get a bunch of options that you can enable or disable. But it’s not entirely clear which are enabled for Basic or Enhanced mode.
Some options include:
- Don’t show customized ads in the Windows Start Menu and Microsoft Store apps
- Don’t share my personal data with Microsoft
- Don’t share my location
- Don’t allow remote access to my device or show it in networks
- Clean website cache when closing the browser
- Don’t allow websites or companies to track me
- Don’t show my recent files and folders in the Windows file explorer
- Disable Microsoft Store
- Disable Microsoft virtual assistant (Cortana)
- Block Microsoft Store apps access to my camera, microphone, messages, calendar, account data, and wireless connections
At least, that’s what you see if you use Privacy Pal’s Simplified view. There’s also an Expert View that exposes more options, but which may require you to know a bit more about how Windows works to decide if you want to do things like “Disable the Inventory Collector” or “Disable Windows peer-to-peer updates.”
A lot of these settings are things you could adjust without installing a third-party tool. But it’s nice to have them all in one place. Just keep in mind that Privacy Pal is a free application… and when you install it Avira will ask you if you want to install a bunch of the company’s other apps. Just keep clicking next if you’re not interested.