You can download an archive of all the data you’ve created across Microsoft’s services, including search, browsing, and location history. This enables you to back up and store your Microsoft activities, as well as extract information about how you use Microsoft services, from the data. It could also help you transition to a new technology provider.
How to download an archive of your Microsoft account data
To begin, go and log in to your Microsoft Account. You may be asked to sign in to your account, enter your password, or accept a Microsoft Authenticator confirmation message on your phone.
You’ll be taken to your Microsoft account homepage, which gives you a quick overview of everything connected to your Microsoft account. In the top navigation menu, select “Privacy.” Due to the sensitivity of these settings, you’ll be prompted to enter your password – or use Microsoft Authenticator – once more.
The Microsoft Privacy dashboard will appear, allowing you to manage how Microsoft uses your information. The “Download your data” tab beneath the main banner is the relevant link here.
Click the “Create new archive” button on the “Download your data” screen. A popup will appear, allowing you to select which data types to include in the archive. Your browsing history, search history, location history, and all spoken voice commands are all available data sources, as well as usage information for apps, services, films, and music purchased through the Microsoft Store.
Check the boxes next to each data type you want to archive, then click “Create archive.” While Microsoft gathers all relevant information, the process may take a few minutes to complete. After that, your download will begin in your browser.
If you leave the page while your archive is being created, you’ll be able to access it later by returning to the “Download your data” screen. Once it’s ready to download, it’ll appear under the “Archives” heading. To help protect your privacy, archives are automatically removed after “a few days.”
It’s important to remember that the data archive isn’t meant to be consumed directly. The information is delivered in the form of a set of JSON files, which are a structured format for key/value pairs. Despite the fact that the files are essentially plain text that can be opened in any text editor, some of the values may appear meaningless or difficult to interpret without some knowledge of what they represent and how they’re stored.
Any data you create in Microsoft apps and services is not included in the data archive. Consider it a repository for everything directly related to your Microsoft account, not just the files you’ve created with it. Most apps allow you to export data directly from them; for example, to get an archive of your Outlook emails, go to outlook and click the blue “Export mailbox” button.
Microsoft’s services are GDPR compliant thanks to the ability to create an account data archive. It enables you to leave Microsoft’s ecosystem or scrape your own Microsoft data for any information you require. The information could be used to build custom spreadsheets, databases, or applications that help you visualize your Microsoft activities, providing you with a record of how you used Microsoft services that will last long after the apps themselves are no longer available.
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