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In the age when software companies are increasingly hoarding your data, there is one company that is notorious even among the notorious in this field – Microsoft.
During the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft irked the entire PC community when it included Diagtrack in the system. Although the program is not visible, it is enabled on most updated versions of Windows 7 and above. If you’re wondering what DiagTrack is, if it’s safe, how to fix its errors, and how you can disable it from your Windows, here is all about it.
DiagTrack is a tool that is responsible for sending system data to Microsoft servers periodically. It is part of the Connected User Experience and Telemetry component, also known as the Universal Telemetry Client (UTC).
The DiagTrack service works on a file named diagtrac.dll, which is a DLL or dynamic link library file developed by Microsoft. The diagtrack.dll is located under the path: %SystemRoot%\System32\svchost.exe -k utcsvc -p.
It runs under the registry key:
DiagTrack is specified as an automatic-enabled service that starts every time the OS starts and is a Win32 service.
Where is DiagTrack or the diagtrack.dll file stored?
You can find the diagtrack.dll file stored under the following path:
%SystemRoot%\System32\svchost.exe -k utcsvc -p
The File location is as follows:
Does Microsoft use DiagTrack for spying on my data?
Now there is no clear answer to this question as although Microsoft has stated clearly that this data is collected perfectly anonymously and not linked to any user id or email, they have also said that in case of some crash reports, they can read the memory logs and reconstruct it back. The data can be then linked to the user to get a better understanding of the error. These are simple terms that mean that they can see some part of what you were doing just before the crash of a Windows program.
What data does DiagTrack or Windows Telemetry collect?
Depending on the mode enabled, DiagTrack can either collect a part of your data or the whole of it.
The two options, Basic and Full, collect the data in the following category:
Basic – In this mode, Microsoft has access to data such as your PC specifications, Windows Store activity, Usage Time, and Program Crashes.
Full – Microsoft can receive data such as songs you listened to, movies you have watched, local Windows searches, content licenses, disk space, and in certain cases, even your browsing history.
You can view what data is being collected by DiagTrack or Connected User Experience and Telemetry by accessing your Microsoft Privacy Dashboard under the following link:
Once signed in, you can see what data DiagTrack has collected from your system and associated tools such as Microsoft Band, Cortana and others. You are most likely to find data such as Search History on Bing, Health Activity, Browsing History, Activity on Location, Privacy Settings, and Cortana’s Notebook.
If you wish to view the diagnostic data collected by Diagtrack on your Windows 10, you can do so by Windows Setting>Privacy>Diagnostics & Feedback. The telemetric data collected mostly belongs to settings and peripheral data, browsing history, uptime, operating system info and uptime, installs and updates for applications on the system, file queries, keyboard and microphone collection, and reliability data.
Should you worry about this data collected by DiagTrack?
Ideally, there should not be any problem as the data collected is not being forwarded to any third parties, and even within the company, the data is not readily accessible, according to Microsoft.
Also, we daily give away our data, chats, video viewing history, and shopping history to Facebook, Amazon, and Google. So unless you are paranoid, you can rest easy.
Why is DiagTrack on my Windows, anyway?
At this point, you might be wondering why Microsoft collects all this data in the first place. Conspiracy theories aside, there are pretty valid reasons for collecting basic diagnostic data. So, yes, DiagTrack is more or less important to Windows, not so much to the users, though.
As mentioned earlier, crash reports are sent to the Microsoft servers. This data is then used by Microsoft to figure out the reason for the crash and fix them. They also use it to optimize applications, update and fix drivers and find bugs.
Is DiagTrack safe?
It constantly sends data to Microsoft and gathers telemetry without prior permission (since it’s enabled by default on Windows 10 and updated versions of Windows 7 and above), some people may think it is not safe. But there is nothing to worry about, almost all operating system companies have to use these services for collecting data to diagnose software bugs.
Just like most tech companies Microsoft is also collecting a lot of personal data, and privacy advocates have strongly protested against this feature, calling it unsafe to the user’s privacy.
Furthermore, DiagTrack is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder, as a DLL file, and is able to supervise and watch over other applications. Thus, given the file location and its authority, the technical security rating of DiagTrack is 30%, allowing us to come to the conclusion that it is neither too safe nor too dangerous.
Is DiagTrack malware or virus?
No, DigTrack is not a virus or a malware, and it has a VeriSign that stands proof of the fact that it is developed by trusted parties and developers. However, this does not rule out the possibility that it can not be corrupted or damaged by a virus, or some virus can not pose as DiagTrack on your system. DiagTrack is stored as a DLL file, and one thing about DLL files is that they are vulnerable to virus attacks. Therefore any virus can easily pose as diagtrack.dll and harm your computer.
To check whether diagtrack.dll is legit or a virus, go to Task Manager and click on the columns field under diagtrack.dll, add Verified Signer as one of the columns. If the Verified Signer value for diagtrack.dll says ‘unable to verify’ or if the developer is neither listed nor looks legitimate, then it is highly possible that diagtrack.dll is a potential malware or virus.
If the Verified Signer value for diagtrack.dll says ‘Verified’, then it is a legitimate DiagTrack file that is neither virus-ridden nor some virus itself.
Can I remove DiagTrack from my system?
Yes, you can remove DiagTrack from your Windows since it is not an essential file for Windows. However, we strongly suggest against it since a number of users who have previously removed the service from Windows have faced critical functioning issues on the system. Therefore, it is advisable to only disable it instead of completely removing it from your system.
What are some common DiagTrack (diagtrack.dll) error messages?
If you have DiagTrack enabled on your system, you may often get pop-up diagtrack.dll error messages. Before we get to talking about fixing these error messages, let us give you a quick list of DiagTrack error messages you can be facing:
- Failed to load diagtrack.dll
- Access Violation at address – diagtrack.dl
- Diagtrack.dll could not be found
- Cannot findC:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\diagtrack.dll
- diagtrack.dll is missing or corrupt
You may also find a diagtrack.dll error message when you try to access Cisco VPN Client Fix on your Windows. The message looks like this:
Cannot start Cisco VPN Client Fix for Windows 8.1 and 10. A required component is missing: diagtrack.dll. Please install Cisco VPN Client Fix for Windows 8.1 and 10 again.
Now, these errors can be caused due to multiple reasons. One of the most common issues that surface diagtrack.dll error messages is the loss of data stored in DiagTrack or the damage of the diagtrack.dll file. Another reason is the damage to the Windows registry’s database. In this case, you’ll often need to restore your system to a previous ‘restore point’ when the application was running smoothly, and there was no damage to the registry’s database.
Lastly, you could be facing a diagtrack.dll error message because the default or a third-party antivirus has blocked access to the DLL file of DiagTrack. Herein, you need to glance through what files and applications have been quarantined by your antivirus software.
How to fix DiagTrack (diagtrack.dll) error messages?
There are multiple solutions to fix diagtrack.dll error messages. Here we’ll take you through a detailed guide on troubleshooting these error messages with different solutions:
Solution 1: Restore your PC back to the latest restore point
This is possibly the easiest and the most basic solution to troubleshooting runtime error messages by DiagTrack.
- Hit the Windows key or manually go to the search bar below and type ‘System Restore’.
- Press Enter.
- Once in the System Restore, enter the administrator password if prompted by the system or if there is one applied on the profile.
- Now, you’ll have the Wizard or the System Restore Wizard to guide you through the entire restoring process. If you have multiple restore points, the Wizard will recommend the most relevant restore point or ask you to choose one yourself.
- Now, restore your computer to see if the issue is resolved.
Solution 2: Use the System File Checker tool
The System File Checker Tool checks if the diagtrack.dll files are intact or if they have been damaged/corrupted/deleted. Multiple times, diagtrack.dll error messages are the result of missing/corrupted/deleted files; therefore, scanning the system files to check if the diagtrack.dll files are intact is important.
To do this, open the Command Prompt as administrator, and run the following command:
The command will now scan the files, and if it finds that diagtrack.dll (or any other files for that fact) are not intact, it will replace the same with a cached copy of the file that is located in a compressed folder under the file path System32\dllcache.
Solution 3: Perform a Windows Update
As for other applications, and services, diagtrack.dll runtime errors can be caused by outdated Windows OS. updating your OS can help in this case, although it is a time-consuming task.
Follow these steps to update Windows:
- Hit Windows Key and type ‘Update’. Hit Enter.
- You’ll see a ‘Check for Updates’ option on display amongst several options. Tap on it, and if you are running an outdated version of your OS, you’ll see that there will be updates available for download.
- Click ‘Install Updates’. Once the update is completed, restart your PC.
Solution 4: Register the diagtrack.dll file in Windows
Use Regsvr32, a command-line utility, to register diagtrack.dll in the Windows OS. Sometimes diagtrack.dll runtime errors are generated because the DLL files are not registered on your system.
To register the file/files, run as administrator and open the Command Prompt. Now type the following command in the command box:
Solution 5 (Advanced): Downloading and Replacing the diagtrack.dll file
Please note that this is a solution that you must proceed with only if all other methods have been unsuccessful in solving the error. This solution should only be used by advanced PC users because an incorrectly installed .dll extension file causes abrupt dysfunction of the system, or it may cause the system to cease functioning altogether.
Also, note that software developers do not circulate dynamic link library files; they always come as a part of the installation set, therefore download the replacement file from the manufacturer itself (if available) or from a trusted source.
Once you’ve downloaded the diagtrack.dll file manually, copy the file to the Windows System directory and appropriate file folder locations.
Now, restart your computer.
Solution 6: Re-install Windows 10
If downloading and replacing the diagtrack.dll file does not work either, then do a clean installation of your Windows. Make sure to backup all important files and data to avoid losing the data during the reinstallation process.
Is DiagTrack a Windows-essential file?
No, DiagTrack is not a Windows-essential file and given that it was a later addition to Windows, it is safe to say that disabling it may have negligible to no effects on the system.
How to disable DiagTrack?
Although you can jump straight to disabling the service through the service manager, here is an extra step prior to disabling that will ensure the removal of data collected by DiagTrack so far:
Delete Diagnostic Data collected by DiagTrack or Connected User Experience and Telemetry: Press Windows Key + S and type ‘privacy’ in the search box. Amongst the few options that pop up, you’ll find ‘Privacy Settings’. Click on it, then click on ‘Diagnostics & Feedback’.
Scroll down until you see ‘Delete Diagnostic Data’, then press the ‘Delete’ button to delete the data collected by Diagtrack so far.
Disable the Connected User Experiences and Telemetry Service: Since DiagTrack is a component of Connected User Experiences and Telemetry Service, disabling the same disables DiagTrack too. To do this, open services manager by hitting Windows Key + R, now type ‘services.msc’ in the search box and scroll down till you find Connected User Experiences and Telemetry Service in the services list (the list is arranged alphabetically, so this should not be a big deal).
Double click on the same to open its properties. Under ‘startup type’, change the default configuration from ‘Automatic’ to ‘Disabled’. If DiagTrack is still running, click on Stop>Apply>OK’ to stop the currently running application.
Reboot your system: This step ensures that the changes you just applied have been put to effect and also allows you to double-check whether DiagTrack still starts running in the background upon starting the OS.
How to Restore Default Startup Configuration for DiagTrack?
To begin with this, first, make sure that all the services on which UTC or DiagTrack depends are smoothly functioning and have a default configuration. Next, follow these steps:
- Run the Command Prompt. If there is more than one user on a system, make sure that you are running as an administrator; if not, ask for administrator access to run Command Prompt.
- Paste the following commands in the command window and hit ENTER.
- sc config DiagTrack start= auto
sc start DiagTrack
- You’re all set! All you have to do is Close Command Prompt and reboot your system.
If by any chance the diagtrack.dll file located in the folder %WinDir%\system32 is damaged or missing, you can pull its restoration to the original default version from Windows 10 installation media.