If you upgrade Windows 10 from an earlier Windows version, you will see a Windows.old folder in the C drive. In this post, we will explain what Windows.old is, whether you can delete the Windows.old folder or not, as well as the fastest ways to delete the windows.old folder from Windows 10.
What is the Windows.old folder?
When you upgrade Windows 7/8/10 to a newer operating system version, all previous Windows installations are moved to a folder called Windows.old. It is created by Windows Setup and is an archive of your Windows settings and allows you to revert to your previous Windows version for up to 30 days (depending on which OS version you are using).
Can I delete the Windows.old folder in Windows 10?
Many users reported that their Windows.old file size was too large and the system partition was filled up. They are wondering if they can delete this folder to increase hard drive space or not?
The answer is YES, you can completely delete the Windows.old file to free up space for your hard drive. However, this will mean that you will no longer be able to downgrade your current Windows to the previous version. To keep your data and operating system safe, you will need to back up all your system data so that you can factory reset Windows 10 in case your computer system encounters unexpected errors.
Why can’t you delete the Windows.old folder?
According to the Microsoft Windows forum and some other famous technology forums, some users complain that they cannot delete the Windows.old folder. Their operating system reports that the file was not found or the target is found. Search is not a valid file or directory.
Here are two main reasons why you cannot perform the deletion of the Windows.old folder directly from the C drive:
Reason 1: The Windows.old folder has been deleted by Windows OS
To save disk space, the Windows operating system is designed to delete the Windows.old folder after you upgrade automatically:
- On Windows 10, Windows.old will be deleted within 10 days after you upgrade Windows.
- On Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, Windows.old is automatically deleted 28 days after you upgrade Windows.
- On Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows, this number will be 30 days.
Reason 2: To delete Windows.old, you need to have administrator rights.
Although the Windows folder is accessible so you can check and review archived files, it requires administrator privileges from the system to make changes to this directory. Therefore, if you do not have administrator rights, you will not remove Windows.old from drive C.
5 Ways to Delete the Windows.old Folder from Windows 10
Old Windows will not automatically delete and must wait up to 10 days after performing a Windows upgrade from a previous version. Since this is a system directory, you will not be able to delete it quickly. If you want to free up space on your C drive, you can delete this folder with the Disk Cleanup utility.
Using Disk Cleanup
Step 1: Press Windows + E to access File Explorer. Next click on This PC in the left panel.
Step 2: Right-click on drive C in Devices and drives, select Properties.
Step 3: In the next window, click Disk Cleanup.
Step 4: Click on Clean up system files.
Step 5: Select only Previous Windows Installation(s) and then click OK to start the cleanup process. You can also delete other related files according to your needs.
You can also enter the keyword “cleanup” in the Search Box of Windows 10 and follow the same steps as above. So you can also use Disk Cleanup to delete windows.old in Windows 8, 7.
Using Storage Sense Settings
If you do not want to use the Disk Cleanup utility, you can still use the Storage sense feature to remove the Windows.old folder.
Step 1: Open Windows Settings by selecting Start => Settings or pressing the Windows + I shortcut. Next, click System.
Step 2: Select the Storage feature on the left side in the Storage sense section and select the option “Change how we free up space automatically“.
Step 3: Click the Free up space now button and check to “Delete previous version of Windows“, then click Clean now.
Once you have completed the above steps, the Windows.old file will no longer exist on your computer.
Using Temporary files
Step 1: Open Settings by typing the setting keyword into Windows Search Bar and clicking on it or pressing Windows + I keyboard shortcut.
Step 2: Choose System => Storage => This PC and drag your mouse down the list and select Temporary files.
Step 3: Inside Temporary files, check Previous Windows Installation and select Remove files.
Then the Windows.old folder will be deleted in your Windows 10 without any hindrance
If the Disk Cleanup tool does not show the Windows.old folder, you can ask the CCleaner to remove it.
Step 1: Download and install CCleaner if you have never installed it on your PC.
Step 2: Launch CCleaner, click the Advanced heading in the left sidebar and uncheck all the options except Old Windows Installation on the right side of Windows and Applications if you want to delete only the folder. Windows.old.
Step 3: Click the Analyze button to start the scan. Once done, you should see the name Old Windows Installation and its file size on the right. Click the Run Cleaner button to remove the Windows.old folder from your Windows 10 PC.
Step 1: Type “cmd” in the search box, select it and launch as administrator by right-clicking and choosing Run as administrator.
Step 2: Enter each of the following commands and press Enter after each command line.
takeown /F c:\Windows.old\* /R /A /D Y cacls c:\Windows.old\*.* /T /grant administrators:F rmdir /S /Q c:\Windows.old
Note: The first command line is used to grant ownership to the Administrators group. The second command line is used to display or modify DACL (discretionary access control list) files and the last command line to remove a specific directory.
Step 3: Type Exit to exit the Command Prompt window.
We covered the Windows.old folder and how you can remove Windows.old quickly and simply. If you are satisfied with the new Windows update, you can remove Windows.old to free up hard drive space for your computer.
And remember, Windows operating system will automatically delete the Windows.old folder one month after you decide to update Windows. If you found this article helpful, then please share it with your friends. Any questions related to the article, please leave a message to us through the article’s comments.