Noticed the Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry service in your Windows Task Manager? Curious what it is, and what it does? Wondering about whether you should remove it?
Or did you find your computer running inexplicably slow, or even crawling to a halt, all of a sudden? Your device starts using too much resources and gets stuck due to high disk usage or high CPU utilization? It’s not uncommon to see disk usage up in the 50%, in cases like these.
You will find that Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry is the culprit here. This seemingly harmless data gathering service has a tendency to misbehave every now and then — particularly on computers running Windows 10.
In this article, we will take a look at what it is, why it goes off the handle, and what exactly you need to do to disable it and fix all issues that arise.
What is Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry?
Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry is an automatic service in the Windows operating system that collects and sends data to the Windows development team at Microsoft. This data is then used to improve the performance of the operating system, get rid of bugs, and improve the user experience.
In the simplest of terms, this is a data collection script on your machine.
How it works is simple enough: Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry scans computer files and basically checks their compatibility with Windows 10 in case an update is initiated.
Data collection has been a big thing in Windows 10 right from the start, hence this service was deeply integrated in the latest version of the OS. But Microsoft also introduced it to Windows 7 and 8.1 users with an update not too long ago, namely KB2977759.
This data is crucial for the company, and helps the development team improve the overall performance of Windows, while also gaining the necessary insights into fixing bugs and stability issues.
What kind of data is collected?
Owing to its very nature, the Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry tool collects different types of technical data from your system, and this encompasses both your computer hardware and the software that you have installed on your computer.
Although some people believe that this is a tool that Microsoft uses to spy on users, this is not the case. The software titan guarantees that it collects data for entirely development purpose, and no personally identifiable information is gathered from users.
Though, that has done nothing to stop the rise of conspiracy theories surrounding this module.
Fact is that Windows Telemetry data only includes basic system diagnostics, information about system files, logs of how frequently an application or feature is used, and a few other metrics. This data is collected and sent to Microsoft servers, and the company then uses these sets of data to triangulate and diagnose problems in Windows.
Below is selection of the type of data this tool collects:
- The text you have typed from your keyboard, every 30 minutes.
- Microsoft Telemetry records and collects what type of hardware you use.
- Device driver details are also sent over.
- A list of all multimedia file from your computer is also transmitted.
- First 35 MB of data from your webcam when you use it first is sent over.
- Everything you say to Cortana, the digital assistant built into Windows 10. In addition to that, the service also transmits full transcription of your conversation with Cortana to Microsoft.
And the following is a list of information that it does not collect from your computer:
- Your geographical location.
- Bing search history.
- The Windows 10 wallpaper you have set up.
If you are wondering about why Microsoft has deployed this deep a tool in Windows 10, then the reasons are clear. The big idea is to collect information to not only improve your system performance but also enhance your system security and prevent it from virus and malware attacks.
Microsoft also uses this data to determine when to roll out updates and upgrade the Windows operating system, for each user.
Still, if you are worried about your privacy, or are suffering from high disk usage and other issues on your system due to this, you can follow along the steps listed down below to get rid of the Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry service on your PC.
Microsoft Telemetry high Disk Usage
As useful as this service is for the development of Windows, it has a nasty habit of taking over and occupying system resources as it collects and sends data to Microsoft, leading to computers running slow all of a sudden.
How and why this high disk usage happens, depends on what kind of diagnostic data collection you have set up on your PC. There are currently four levels — Security, Basic, Enhanced and Full. Each of them differs in the size and amount of data collected.
Naturally, if you have it set to Full on your system, then the tool will collect and store a lot more data.
You can keep an eye on it via the Task Manager, which shows the amount of hardware and network resources that this service consumes.
Many people reported that this process caused an unusual amount of disk usage — more so for users running traditional HDDs. These spikes were either continuous or occurred from time to time, as all these bits and bytes were uploaded from their computers to Microsoft servers.
For this reason, it is advisable to disable Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry in Windows.
A little extra privacy does not hurt either.
Is it possible to remove Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry?
Very much. You can refuse to send this data over, and choose not be tracked at all. But the thing about Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry is that module is built deep into the OS, it is actually a part of the operating system.
What this means is that it is better to turn off this feature than remove it altogether.
CompatTelRunner.exe is the file you are looking for here, the Compatibility Telemetry Runner. It is also known as the Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser. This is the file that collects and phones home usage and performance information to Microsoft servers. And though it is enabled to run by default, you can block it anytime you want.
It usually resides in the C:\Windows\System32 folder, and is digitally signed. And not just that, the file owner is TrustedInstaller, meaning any attempts to modify this read only file will result in a “Access is denied” error. You really can’t mess with this file, without taking ownership first.
Disabling Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry in Windows
As mentioned above, disabling a digitally signed file is a better idea than removing it from your system, as doing so might cause system stability and other related issues on your computer. Features that rely on it may stop working if they find that the original file has been removed or tampered with.
There are a number of different ways you can disable Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry, and your choices will depend on the version of Windows you are running, Home or Pro, and whatnot.
Let’s look at what we have.
Disable Telemetry using the Group Policy Editor
This is the simplest way to disable the Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry service. While some version of Windows may not have the Group Policy Editor installed, most do. Disabling it from here is a good way to ensure that the service will not work again and slow your computer down.
Follow these steps:
- Press Win + R, and open Run.
- Type gpedit.msc, and click OK to open the Group Policy Editor window.
- Here, go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Data Collection and Preview Builds.
- Double-click the Allow Telemetry entry on the right panel.
- Select Disabled.
- Click OK to save your new setting.
Now, you can go to your Task Manager to check whether the service has been shut down or not. If it is not, and your computer is still giving you trouble, then move on and check the second solution.
Disable Telemetry via Registry
Another workaround is to make some changes to the keys in your Windows Registry to disable the telemetry service. As always, be sure that you are comfortable navigating the registry, or you run the risk of your computer becoming nonfunctional.
Make sure that you are logged in as an Administrator, and follow these steps below:
- Press the Win + R keys at the same time to launch the Run application.
- Type regedit in the dialog box and hit the Enter key.
- In the Registry Editor window that opens up, navigate to the following path:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows > DataCollection.
- Double-click the AllowTelemetry key in the right side of the screen, and change its value to 0.
- Press OK to save changes and exit.
In case, where you don’t see the AllowTelemetry key in the DataCollection folder, then simply right-click it and add a new DWORD (32-bit) Value, setting the name as AllowTelemetry and its value to 0.
Restart your computer and see if the usage got better.
Disable Telemetry from the Task Scheduler
This is another way to get rid of the Telemetry Runner problem without deleting it. All processes in the Task Scheduler have a set time. When that time elapses, these processes start executing until that job is done. It is here that we will make the changes.
The following steps work on Windows 7, 8 and 10:
- Launch the Run window by pressing down Win + R keys.
- Type taskschd.msc and hit Enter.
- Now expand the folders in this order, Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > Application Experience.
- Find a task called Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser, right-click it, and then select Disable.
This should hopefully take care of the problem.
Sometimes, the steps listed above may not work, for one reason or another. Then you have a bit of a nuclear option, of deleting the CompatTelRunner.exe file from your system. This is a bit of a complicated process, with a few extra steps involved.
Deleting the CompatTelRunner.exe file
If you want to delete the CompatTelRunner.exe file altogether, then you simply have to locate it in your system, and take ownership of it first. Obviously, this will require you to be logged in with Administrator privileges.
Here are the steps:
- Search for CompatTelRunner in the Start Menu.
- Right-click on the matching result, and then select the Open File Location option.
- You can also go directly to your C:\Windows\System32 folder and locate the file there.
- Now, right-click the file and choose Properties.
- Go to the Security tab, and click the Advanced button.
- Next, near the Owner section, click Change, then Advanced, and finally Find Now.
- This will display a list of owners. Simply select the account that you are using right now, and click on OK, then get rid of all the panel windows.
- Now that you have changed the file owner, you have to change the file permission.
- To do so, right-click CompatTelRunner.exe file and open Properties once again.
- Navigate to the Security tab, then Advanced, then Edit in the Select users from a list section.
- A new window will open, offering permission suggestions.
- In the Allow section, select the Full Control option.
- Click OK, then Apply, then Yes to confirm your choice.
Now that you have full control of the file, delete it.
Do note this only deletes the Compatibility Telemetry Runner file, not the entire KB2977759 update. Removing the whole update from your system can mess the schedule of Windows updates, so it’s not recommended.
While Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry is a well-intentioned program, it is not always well-mannered. The data it collects and sends to Microsoft is vital for the overall health of the Windows ecosystem, but if it starts causing issues, your only solution is to safely disable it.