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At first, please note that this is not a duplicate question (to my best knowledge). I am not asking how to disable web search from with Cortana or the Windows 10 search bar, because there are a zillion tutorials about that. Instead, I have the following (somehow related) question:

A while ago, I have read somewhere that Windows 10 still transfers search terms to Microsoft / Bing, even if the web search is disabled in Windows search. That is, it was claimed that even after having followed the steps to disable web search as outlined here, it still transfers all search terms to Bing (for statistical analysis or other (more obscure) goals).

Since I am unsure whether I can trust the source and my memory, respectively, I'd like to ask if this is true. So my question is:

Does Windows 10 transfer search terms which are entered in the search box of the Windows Desktop to Bing / Microsoft even after you have disabled web search?

UPDATE: This question is not a duplicate

Since (as always) there seems to be a tendency to reflexively close this question, claiming it is a duplicate one, please note the following:

This question is not a duplicate to my best knowledge (and I did extensive research), especially not a duplicate of Can you completely disable Windows 10 sending data home?. Actually, it was me who wrote one of the answers to that other question.

Here, I explicitly do not ask how to prevent Windows from transferring data to Microsoft in general, which IMHO would be a silly idea anyways. Instead, my question is completely different and much more specific:

I would like to know if it is true that Windows Search transfers search terms to Microsoft or Bing, even if I have disabled the web search within Windows, and if is true, if there is a reasonable way to stop this (registry hack etc.). So this question is only and specifically about the secret transfer of search terms from the Windows Desktop Search to Bing despite web search being disabled in Windows.

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    The easiest way would be to block the IPs associated with Bing in %WinDir%\System32\drivers\etc\hosts, by adding the following: 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 then specifying the Bing IPs to resolve to 0.0.0.0. For example, this blocks traffic to mobileads.msn.com: 0.0.0.0 mobileads.msn.com. Here's an example hosts file to show the actual layout. – JW0914 Dec 24 '19 at 13:38
  • Thank you very much for your suggestion. I'll keep that in mind as a last resort, but still would like to know if memory serves me right at all, and if yes, what other options I have. – Binarus Dec 24 '19 at 20:59
  • This has been asked several times here over the past few years: superuser.com/questions/962049/… superuser.com/questions/1159716/… – music2myear Dec 26 '19 at 2:39
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    @music2myear The other questions do not provide an answer to my question, unless I have missed something. Actually, one of the answers in the second link you gave is written by me :-). My question here is another one and much more specific. The other questions are: "How can I stop Windows completely from transferring data to Microsoft?" (which would be a very bad idea IMHO). My question is: "Is is true that Windows transfers search terms to MS / Bing even if I have disabled the web search, and if yes, is there a reasonable way to prevent this?". – Binarus Dec 26 '19 at 10:06
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    I don’t see how anyone can answer this question. You want us to confirm id something is true or false without knowing what was said exactly. We don’t even know if the author of what you read was even knowledgeable about the inner workings of Windows. Certainly it’s impossible for us to indicate if you misunderstood what you read. – Ramhound Dec 26 '19 at 12:44
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Before we go talking about solutions we need to verify if this problem is real. Your source is "A while ago, I have read somewhere..." but even if the source was more reliable it would make sense to validate the claim.

Method: I disabled web search using the registry hack listed in your example link and verified that it works, it does! No more web results in my start menu, great! Now, fire up WireShark, quiet down the system and filter out some noise. Then we do some searching and look for connections to Microsoft.

I didn't see any secret communications coming from my PC during this test. It's possible that they are saved up and sent later but I'm not sure if that is your claim. I don't see any direct network responses to my searching the start menu. So my answer to your question would be to continue using the methods you already do until you can prove that they aren't working.

  • Thank you very much for your answer - accepted and upvoted. I am grateful that you have invested quite a lot of effort to help out. If I ever find the source which I mentioned I'll edit and update the question. Until then, I'll believe what common sense suggests and what your tests confirm. – Binarus Jan 3 at 13:30

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