The StartMeStick doesn’t track people and what they do with their StartMeStick. It leaves no trace on the computer it’s used on, or on the StartMeStick itself.
How does the StartMeStick know if it is subscribed or not?
Each StartMeStick comes with a unique serial number that it uses to get its subscription status. We do keep a history of when this serial number was used so that we can tell how many active StartMeSticks there are. This serial number is linked to the computer the StartMeStick was used on, but is in no way tied to a person and we have no way of making that link - UNLESS YOU ACTIVATE YOUR WARRANTY.
What if I activate my warranty?
By activating your warranty, StartMeStick links the email address you provide to the serial number of the StartMeStick being used. We do this so that we can contact you about your subscription status. There is still no tracking of what you do, and still no trace left on the computer the StartMeStick is used on, or on the StartMeStick itself.
What if I left “Automatically send diagnostic data to FixMeStick Technologies Inc.” checked?
Diagnostic data includes technical specifications of your computer (e.g. computer make and model, amount of RAM, file system type), and the StartMeStick’s attempt to boot on it. We use this data to diagnose issues preventing the StartMeStick from starting properly. This data is not personally identifiable. There is still no tracking of what you do, and still no trace left on the computer the StartMeStick is used on, or on the StartMeStick itself.
How does the StartMeStick compare to my regular browser’s Private Browsing features, e.g. Incognito Mode?
Most modern web browsers contain a Private Browsing feature. This feature will be a little different in different browsers, e.g. Chrome’s Incognito Mode differs in the details from Microsoft Edge’s InPrivate mode. The general principle common to each is the browser creates a new and temporary browsing session that is isolated from your regular session and all the profile specific user data within it.
The StartMeStick is like Private Browsing mode, but for your whole computer. Every time you use the StartMeStick it is a new and temporary session that is isolated from the rest of your computer and all it’s profile specific user data within it. When you shut down the StartMeStick nothing from that session is saved to your computer or to the StartMeStick. That’s what we mean by the StartMeStick goes back to brand new after each use.
The StartMeStick’s web browser, Chromium (an open source version of Google’s Chrome), supports Incognito Mode, i.e. you can use the StartMeStick, and use the browser in Incognito Mode. This is useful in cases where you want to login to your favorite websites in one Chromium window (e.g. gmail, facebook, etc...), and don’t want that profile and its data to be shared with each separate Chromium window, i.e. you want a private browsing session that is isolated from your regular session and that doesn’t save any of the data (e.g. cookies, history) after you close that window.
What if I login to websites? How is my privacy affected then?
The StartMeStick does not and cannot make any 3rd party web site or application more private or secure than it otherwise is, i.e. if you login to Facebook, post photos etc…, Facebook now has your private data to do with as they see fit.
The StartMeStick still ensures that all is private and secure on your endpoint, i.e. your computer, but it cannot ensure all is well and good on the web sites that you willfully send your personal information to.
How does VPN software relate to the StartMeStick?
A VPN can provide ‘network privacy’ by hiding your true IP address from the websites you visit, and the websites you visit from your Internet Service Provider. While VPN software cannot provide privacy from your browser or other programs on your computer, it can provide privacy from other entities on the network, e.g. websites that try to reverse engineer your identity via tracking your IP address and similar, and/or ISPs that track what you’re doing online.
The StartMeStick does not provide network privacy built in. However, you can add a VPN to your StartMeStick by choosing a VPN provider that offers a Chromium extension. We’ve arranged a discount for StartMeStick/FixMeStick customers with NordVPN. If you install the NordVPN extension in Chrome on your regular host operating system, the extension will be there in Chromium when you run the StartMeStick if you sign into Chromium to sync. Or, if you prefer not to login and sync Chromium, you can manually add the VPN extension to Chromium each time. You have to do it each time because when you shut down the StartMeStick nothing from that session is saved to your computer or to the StartMeStick. That’s what we mean by... the StartMeStick goes back to brand new after each use.
Does the StartMeStick make me invisible (i.e. anonymous) on the Internet?
No, it does not. For that you need a VPN, or TOR. However, please note that even TOR would probably resist the implications of ‘invisible’, i.e. no one is truly invisible on the Internet, some just take steps to make themselves less visible than others. How less visible you want to be is a personal decision. The cost (financial cost, ease of use cost) tends to increase along with increasing levels of privacy.
How am I affected if I sign in to sync Chromium?
If you sign into Chromium to sync your Chrome profile data, you import all that profile and personal data into Chromium and into StartMeStick for that session. When you shut down the StartMeStick none of that data is saved on the StartMeStick, but depending on your Chrome sync settings, the data may be saved by Chrome. This is the purpose of Chrome sync, after all. You can learn how to control what data Chrome syncs here: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/165139?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en