One of my favorite security tools for Windows 10 is one that I also have a hard time categorizing. It is incredibly versatile and touches a lot of different aspects of security. This tool is called O&O ShutUp10. If you’re a Windows 10 user and you aren’t using this, you should definitely give it a look.
O&O ShutUp10 (or, OOSU10) is a very small portable application. It’s original functionality was to limit Windows 10’s extremely aggressive telemetry. It does this by blocking the your computer’s access to Windows telemetry servers. In this way it functions as a very lightweight, very focused firewall. OOSU10 also does a lot of other cool things.
OOSU10 is almost a one-stop-shop for Windows 10’s privacy and security settings. Through a very detailed series of simple toggles, it allows you to enable or disable nearly any security- or privacy-related function on Windows 10. It also has some presets that lets you manage a lot of these settings in batches of “Recommended,” “Somewhat Recommended,” and all settings.
Perhaps the best part of O&O ShutUp10 is that it is a portable application that doesn’t require installation. Simply run it as an administrator, make the desired changes, and close it out. The changes are preserved on your computer through a simple .ini file. Let’s take a look at the use of O&O ShutUp 10.
Using O&O ShutUp10
First, download the executable OOSU10 file. Once the file is downloaded, right-click on it and select “Run as Administrator.” Of course, this is only necessary if you are working in a Standard User account (you aren’t working in a standard user account, aren’t you?).
Next, you will be prompted to provide the administrator credentials.
If you don’t provide OOSU10 with administrator privileges, many of its functions will be greyed out and inaccessible. Once you have authenticated as the administrator, the full suite of options will be available to you.
Most items will be enabled by default, and indicated by a red toggle switch. You can disable any function listed by toggling the switch to green. This is somewhat confusing (students constantly ask, “does green me ‘ON’ or ‘OFF’?”). Think of it this way: red means danger, green means safe. We want as many toggle switches to be green as possible. Fortunately, O&O ShutUp10 has made this very simple for us.
O&O ShutUp 10 Presets
At the top of the interface under the “Actions” button there are three sets of present options:
- Apply only recommended settings,
- Apply recommended and somewhat recommended settings, and
- Apply all settings
There are two ways to approach these groups of setting. First, you can take a somewhat tentative approach and apply only the “Recommended” settings. These are settings that O&O is pretty confident will not interfere with your user experience by inadvertently disabling something important. If you choose this route, I recommend then going through all other options and selectively disabling other functions that you do not need.
The better option, in my opinion, is to choose the second option: apply recommended and somewhat recommended settings. I like to start with this, somewhat overly aggressive preset, and then selectively re-enabling settings that I actually need.
Keep in mind, this will disable some functions you probably need. For example, if you use your webcam, you will have to re-enable app access to your camera (which you can still limit to only select applications through Windows’ privacy settings). If you have a question about what any given setting does, all you have to do is click on it. O&O ShutUp10 will provide an explanation, helping you make your decision.
Regardless of which route you choose, I DO NOT recommend applying all settings. This will disable important security processes, like OS updates.
Using this product is not completely mindless; it does require some thought and understanding of what it’s doing. Look at the image above. Disabling automatic Windows Updates or Windows Defender? No thank you. Disabling Microsoft OneDrive? If I don’t use OneDrive I would absolutely disable it.
Closing O&O ShutUp 10
If this is your first time using O&O ShutUp 10, you will likely have to restart your machine for settings to take effect. This has very little to do with OOSU10 and is simply necessary to apply changes to Windows. You may also be asked to create a system restore point at some point in the process. I recommend creating one.
Generally, the changes made through OOSU10 are durable. Even though O&O ShutUp 10 is portable and does not install, it will leave a .ini file behind that will preserve your new settings. You should run OOSU10 on a monthly basis, ideally right after installing system updates. These updates can undo some of the changes made with OOSU10.
After overseeing hundreds of usages of O&O ShutUp 10 I have yet to see it cause an issue. That’s not to say it couldn’t – you should still use this at your own risk – but this is one of the most trouble-free tools I routinely work with.
I’m not a huge fan of security-through-application. I greatly prefer manipulating native settings and capabilities, and making behavioral changes. O&O ShutUp 10 brings something to the table, though, and I run it on every single instance of Windows I have.