**AUTHOR’S NOTE: While I am not, strictly speaking, an IT Security Specialist, I do hold a number of security-related certifications; in my work as well as for my personal usage, I try to do everything securely. I am writing this article without having a full understanding of the security behind the feature. I know that what I am writing about might cause potential (if minor) potential security vulnerabilities (if you are the subject of a targeted attack). As you read the article, please be aware of that.
As do so many people, I work on a number of different computers. In my home office I have two that I work from regularly, as well as a few on customer sites. I often spend more time on the web than I do on local apps, and as such it is nice to be able to have everything wherever I go. With the modern Microsoft Edge browser, it is easier than ever.
I really should write an article about Edge user profiles, and that will come. If you do use Edge profiles, there are several bits that can be synchronized to the cloud, and thus be available on any computer that you log into.
In the Edge menu (the … at the top-right of your browser) click Settings. In the Settings navigation bar, the first option is Profiles. As long as you are logged into a profile, you will see the following when you select it:
The first thing you should see is that under my name and e-mail address it says the Sync is on for this profile. This means that something is synchronizing. Good. You will notice the second option from the top is Sync. Click it. Now what you are going to see should look something like this:
Notice at the very top of the screen capture (which starts just under the address bar) it says that Your browser is managed by your organization. I point this out because if your org has policies about this, you may not be able to configure some of the options; depending on the org, they might enforce enable or disable of any or all of these options. If they do, then you are pretty much at their whim, and you can only configure your personal profile settings.
The data that we can configure to synchronize includes:
- Basic info
- Open tabs
I know of a lot of orgs that disable synchronizing passwords, as someone who compromised your profile might be able to access any site that you have already authenticated to. Please be aware, before you yell at me: my understanding is that the passwords are stored in a one-way hash, which means that there is no giant global password list waiting to be stolen and exposed on the Dark Web. Nonetheless, if someone discovers your profile password and starts synchronizing your passwords to theirs, any site that you have visited is at risk.
Open tabs is, for some, a convenient one. I often have as many as 25-30 tabs open in a single Edge profile, and while I probably needed them all when I opened them, I like to start my browser clean and navigate to the pages that I need. The one that most people seem to like though is right at the top… having my Favorites available on all of my systems – or on a new one which I might only be accessing once or twice – is helpful.
I recently switched out my old laptop for a new one, and while there was certainly a lot of re-installation and configuring that I needed to do, it was helpful that my browser extensions are synchronized. My password manager and ad-blocking extensions were automatically installed for me. It might have only taken me a few minutes to reinstall both of those, but like Forrest Gump said: One less thing!
But things go wrong…
I cannot think of what it would be because it has never happened to me, but if your browser synchronization is off, you can simply reset it at the bottom. I have not done this yet, but now that I said that, I will likely need to sometime this week.
Leave me alone!
Some people do not want anything synchronized, especially if it goes into that cloud thingy. No problem… across the screen from your profile name and email address is a button that says Turn off sync. As I mentioned earlier, your organization might prevent this, but if it does not and you are worried (or simply do not want your information synchronized) then you can click it and be done with it… none of your favorites, settings, info, passwords, history, open tabs, extensions, or collections will be synchronized to the cloud.
Microsoft does its best to provide its users with every possible convenience. They also understand that some people (and organizations) want to control their own systems and eschew the conveniences offered. We as the users (and the organizations that employ us and provide our systems) have the option to use these or to turn them off as we see fit. They are not going to force us into how they feel we should be using our systems. This goes especially for features that might have security implications.