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How to Automatically Delete Your Private Data

Written by  Nov 12, 2019

The information appears as a timeline and a map of all the places you've visited. Click the cog in the bottom-right corner of the map, choose 'Automatically delete Location History' and select your preference.

Google now lets you delete your YouTube History automatically after three or 18 months. This stops the site storing details of all the videos you've searched for and watched, and making 'suggestions' based on your viewing habits.

Ask Alexa to delete your voice data

Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft have all admitted that their voice assistants record, store and share our spoken commands – although they've since revised their policies of letting human contractors review audio snippets. To address the privacy concerns of customers who use its Echo smart speakers, Amazon now lets you automatically delete all voice data that Alexa captures. You can do this in the Alexa app for Android and iOS by going to Settings, Alexa Privacy, Manage Your Alexa Data. Under 'Manage your voice recordings', turn on the option 'Automatically delete recordings' and choose whether to auto-delete data after three or 18 months. Alternatively, log into the Alexa Privacy Hub in your desktop browser (bit.ly/alexa487) and activate the feature there.

Amazon has also introduced a new voice command, "Alexa, delete everything I said today", to wipe everything you've asked the voice assistant since midnight. To use this option, open the Alexa app, go to Settings, Alexa Privacy, Review Voice Data and choose 'Enable deletion by voice'.

Similarly, for concerned Google Assistant users, Google promises that it will "soon automatically delete the vast majority of audio data associated with your account that's older than a few months". In the meantime, you can now say "Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you" or "delete everything I said to you last week" to erase that data permanently.

social mediaAlso see: How to Adjust Privacy Settings of Your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Posts

Deleting your browsing data automatically

When you use your browser's incognito mode, your computer doesn't store details of the sites you've visited, but it's easy to forget that this handy tool exists, and deleting data manually at the end of every session is a hassle.

If you're really concerned about your privacy, you can set your browser to delete cookies and other site data automatically every time you close it.

In Chrome, click the menu button, choose Settings, then scroll down and click Advanced. In the 'Privacy & security' section, select 'Site settings', 'Cookies and site data' and activate the option 'Clear cookies and site data when you quit Chrome'. If that sounds too drastic, you can opt to delete only data for specific sites by adding their URLs to the 'Clear on exit' list.

To delete your browsing history whenever you exit Firefox, click the hamburger icon in the top-right corner to open the main menu, and choose Options, Privacy & Security. In the History section, either select 'Never remember history' from the drop-down menu or choose 'Use custom settings for history' to retain some data (such as search and form history) while clearing the rest.

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Emptying your Downloads folder automatically

It's easy to forget that the Downloads folder in Windows contains all the files you've downloaded from the web until you delete them manually or move them elsewhere, and that these may include private documents, photos and videos. Likewise, files you've sent to the Recycle Bin remain there until you empty it. You can use Windows 10's built-in Storage Sense feature to ensure these items don't fall into the wrong hands.

This article contain Amazon UK affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. The prices may vary after publication, please follow links for current prices and offers.

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