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How to disable Windows 8's deep cloud integration, piece by piece

Ian Paul | March 26, 2014
Microsoft provides granular control options that let you pick and choose which cloud-friendly features to utilise.

You can accuse Windows 8.1 of a lot of things, but one thing you can't say about Microsoft's latest OS is that it lacks web integration. Thanks to deep integration with Bing, OneDrive, and other Microsoft online services, Windows 8.1 is most definitely where the desktop meets the cloud.

Not everyone's sold on the cloud, though. You could just use a local account to keeping Microsoft as far away from your PC as possible, but a lot of Microsoft's services are actually pretty useful. What if you wanted to enable some and disable others? Here's how to individually sever Bing and OneDrive's deep tendrils into your system, along with info on how to keep general Windows apps from looking over your virtual shoulder.

Bing search

Part of Windows 8.1's comprehensive search feature in the modern UI, dubbed Smart Search, includes results from Bing.

If you search for anything that isn't an exact match with a file, option, or program already on your PC, Windows 8 launches Bing Smart Search, which searches for the term locally as well as on the web and within your Windows 8 apps themselves, then collate the results into a slick and helpful interface. It's a convenient feature, but the downside is that for Smart Search to work some of the local search data on your PC gets sent to Microsoft.

If you'd rather not have Bing results mixing with your PC-based searches, dumping Bing is easy. Open the Settings charm by tapping the Windows logo key + I. Then go to Change PC settings > Search and apps > Search.

Next, tap or click the slider to "off" that says "Get search suggestions and web results from Bing." If you want to include Bing results, but would rather not have them personalized based on your search history and PC location, then under "Your search experience" tap or click the radio button next to "Don't get personalized results from Bing."

Cut off OneDrive

Windows 8.1 has deep OneDrive integration that can sync almost everything across multiple PCs, from commonly used files and folders, to your Internet Explorer tabs and settings, to your desktop background and Start screen apps. While most of the options are enabled by default, Microsoft gives you very granular control options over OneDrive's syncing, so it's really up to you how much you put in the cloud.

To adjust your settings, open the Settings charm again, and then go to SkyDrive > Sync settings (SkyDrive in Windows 8.1 will soon be renamed to OneDrive).

Here you'll find a page filled with all your personalized sync settings. Simply read through the list and anything you don't want to sync just tap or click the slider underneath it. If you're looking for the nuclear option that stops any personal settings from syncing across PCs then turn off the slider at the top that says "Sync your settings on this PC."

 

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