Runtime Intelligence

Author: Michael J. Leaver, 2BrightSparks Pte. Ltd.

You may have come across a request after you installed a program that asked if you would allow the transmission of non-personally identifiable information to help improve your experience.

If you are a new user and unfamiliar with the company, that can be a difficult decision. The request often pops up out of the blue and it may not always be clear about exactly what data is going to be exchanged. This article throws light on the world of what is known as Runtime Intelligence and provides some advice about what to consider when making the decision to opt-in or out.

What is Runtime Intelligence?

Runtime Intelligence is a technology that assists developers with the collection, analysis, and presentation of application usage levels, patterns and practices. Put more simply, it is a tool that provides feedback about the way software is used. This information helps to drive improvements in functionality and ease of use.

100% Anonymous

Essentially, Runtime Intelligence is a feedback mechanism for developers to make their software better. In nearly all cases the data that will be shared is anonymous. Here is a check list of data types that you will want NOT to be collected or recorded:

• Payment Information
• User Names
• Passwords
• Email Addresses
• URL's
• I.P. Addresses
• Serial Numbers
• Host Names
• File Names
• Directory Names
• Notes
• Filters

Make sure the developer's statement covers any kind of unique, private, personal or confidential data.

What Information is Collected?

Most of the data collected by Runtime Intelligence provides information about features of the software that are being used. Perhaps you have enabled or disabled a function, or you are using a particular level of a feature. By gaining feedback on usage, developers can concentrate their efforts on making them better, and just as important are the features that are not being used as this information may indicate a usability issue, or demonstrate there is little or no interest in a particular function.

More general data about the operating system and language in use, together with the demands the program is making on the device (for example how much RAM is being used) may also be reported. This can help indicate minimum system requirements across a broad range of devices and leads to decisions about the languages the software and support resources (help files etc.) will be translated into.

A Question of Trust

The resistance to allowing software to "call home" is one of trust. Here are five simple questions to ask yourself before clicking that opt-in button:

  • Are you familiar with the company asking for your trust?
  • Is there a way of reversing your decision so you can easily opt-out of sharing your data if you change your mind?
  • How easy is it to find out the details about what data is going to be shared?
  • Where will the data be stored?
  • Is the data that is sent used to prevent software piracy?

How Runtime Intelligence Helps

Although some companies and organizations do not permit the exchange of data over the Internet, and therefore will not permit Runtime Intelligence, your decision is more likely to come down to a choice. You'll need to weigh up your level of confidence in the company. Data privacy issues are in the foreground of many of our online interactions, and most users will err on the side of caution, however Runtime Intelligence can have a very real positive effect on the software you use.

2BrightSparks has continuously benefited from feedback sent to it through contact forms, support requests, or postings on our community forum. SyncBack has grown into the powerhouse of a backup and synchronization program it is today, largely through the comments and suggestions of its community of users. In order to further improve the software, we offer the option of agreeing to activating Runtime Intelligence in SyncBackPro and SyncBackSE. Note that it is not enabled by default. You must provide explicit permission to active it. 

If you have any comments about Runtime Intelligence, or perhaps you have questions or concerns not addressed in this article, do not hesitate to Contact Us.

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