One of the lesser-known features of Windows 8 is the ability to sync a number of your settings for your system with your Microsoft account. This means you can sync your apps, your people (including Facebook, Twitter, Outlook, and LinkedIn contacts), and your photos so that they all appear no matter which Windows 8 system you log in to.
In addition to those settings, you can also sync your themes, favorites, history, and passwords to your Microsoft account. This means that your browser will look and behave the same as long as you are synchronized with the same Microsoft account.
These settings presented some concerns to me, because if my Microsoft account got hacked, some potentially sensitive information (passwords, bookmarks, and history) could end up in the wrong hands.
Fortunately, Microsoft has begun to roll out a long-awaited feature which improves the security of the Microsoft account: two factor authentication. I was excited to set this up for the account I use to synchronize my Windows 8 PC. Setting it up is easy. Go to https://account.live.com/ and after logging in, choose “Security Info” on the left side.
Click “Set up two-step verification” and begin the process. In my case, since I had already linked a phone number to my account (which previously saved my account), it offered me the possibility of calling me or texting me with a code in order to continue. Once I completed that process, my account was now configured to require a second factor of authentication whenever I connect from an unrecognized device.
To simplify things you can also use an authenticator app, either the Microsoft Authenticator for Windows Phone, or the Google Authenticator for iOS or Android. On the security settings page, click “Set Up” under the Authenticator App section of the page. You will receive a page like this:
Scan the barcode, and you will be able to generate login codes using the app. (Pro tip: if you have an authenticator account configured with same email address that is associated with your Microsoft account, you might want to rename the existing account in your authenticator app before scanning. Otherwise your account’s code might be overwritten.)
Now that my Microsoft Account is well and truly secure, now it’s time to configure the synchronization of my Windows 8 account and my Microsoft account. Hit the Windows button, and search for “Sync” in your settings. Choose “Sync Your Settings”.
Then, go ahead and turn on all the sync settings you want! Feel confident that your account settings are configured with a well-protected account.
Note: I am part of the Windows Champions program. As part of this program, I receive equipment and software from Microsoft to assist me in evaluating products and developing content.