How to Remove Windows.old Folder?


After upgrading to Windows 10, your previous system files are placed in a folder called Windows.old. It is present in the drive that you installed your operating system in. It is typically the C: drive. Browse the folder of the said drive and you will see a Windows.old folder. It contains all the old Windows files that you upgraded from. Suppose you upgrade from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to 10, then the old folder contains all the files for Win 7, 8 or 8.1.

Do not think that it is completely unnecessary. It contains a backed up copy of all the old system files that was required by your previous OS. If you want to revert or downgrade back to your old system then the folder comes into play.

Can We Delete It?

The folder takes up a large amount of space in your hard drive. In my case, it takes more than 17 GBs of space. Deleting it will instantly free up a number of gigabytes in your hard drive. But since it holds important files, a lot of us do not want to take the risk of deleting some system file or user data. Well, since it only contains your previous OS files, deleting it will not cause any problem to the current OS.

Windows.old Properties

However, it should be noted that those files come into use if you want to downgrade back to Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. Some people might want to downgrade because of the new OS is not for them. Those people should keep the Windows.old folder. The rest of us who are comfortable with Windows 10 can remove it permanently. It doesn’t serve any purpose for such users. Your user files have already been moved.

When you upgraded, all the documents present inside the user directories were moved. That is why your desktop contains the same files. The new user directories also have the same content. You can even try browsing the Windows.old folder and you will not find anything inside the user directories.

So, all of those who do not want to revert back to their old operating system forever can safely remove the .old folder.

How to Remove the Windows.old folder?

Since this isn’t just another folder, you cannot simply delete it. Try deleting it by pressing the delete button or using the right click delete option. It will figure out the folder information for a while and display you with the following error message:

Folder Access Denied

You need permission to perform this action

You require permission from SYSTEM to make changes to this folder

Folder Access Denied
You can hit the Try Again button multiple times, but it won’t work. What you need to do is remove it using a special system feature. The feature that is used here is Disk Cleanup.

Here’s how you can actually remove the Windows.old Folder:

  • Click on the Start button and begin typing Disk Cleanup.
  • Before you complete typing, it will search and display the link to Disk Cleanup (Desktop app). Click on it.
    Start Menu Disk Cleanup
  • Choose your Windows installed drive in the Disk Cleanup: Drive Selection dialog and hit OK.
    Choosing a drive
    The utility will take some time to calculate how much space you will be able to free.
  • In the Disk Cleanup for Windows (C:) click the button that says Clean up system files.
    Disk Cleanup Dialog
  • When prompted, choose the drive once again and hit OK. It will again begin to calculate the space that you will be able to free.
  • Now, in the Files to delete options, you can scroll and see the one that says Previous Windows installation(s). Check it and press OK.
    Disk Cleanup for Windows
  • Confirm you action in the dialog box that follows by clicking Delete Files.
    Confirming Disk Cleanup
The process will take some time. You will also get a final warning that says:If you clean up the previous Windows installations or temporary installation files, you will no longer be able to restore the machine back to the previous version of Windows. Are you sure you want to do this?

Disk Cleanup confirmation

Once you hit Yes on this final confirmation message, there’s no going back. Congratulations, you have successfully freed up your disk space by deleting the old windows installation files.

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