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How to delete the Windows.old folder on Windows 10

When you upgrade your computer to a new version of Windows 10, or you install a preview build, the installation process saves a copy of the previous version in the "Windows.old" folder.

This is part of the safety mechanism in case the upgrade process goes wrong. If the installation fails for any reason, the system can use the Windows.old folder to undo the changes. Also, if the upgrade completes successfully, the backup copy of the previous version will be kept to provide the option to rollback in the case the new installation is causing issues.

Although this is a handy feature, if your computer is working correctly after the upgrade, you can safely delete the Windows.old folder to reclaim gigabytes of space.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the different ways that you can get rid of the Windows.old folder to free up several gigabytes of space to store more important files.

Update November 29, 2018: We've updated this article with the latest information for the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.

How to delete the Windows.old folder using Storage sense settings

The easiest method to delete the Windows.old folder from your device is to use the Storage sense with these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the "Storage sense" section, click the Change how we free up space automatically option.

  1. Under the "Free up space now" section, check the Delete previous version of Windows option.

  1. Click the Clean now button.

Once you've completed the steps, the folder with the previous installation of Windows 10 will no longer be available on your device.

How to delete the Windows.old folder using Temporary files settings

Alternatively, using the Settings app, you can delete the Windows.old folder using the Temporary files settings with these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the "Storage sense" section, click the Free up space now option.

  1. Check the Previous Windows installation(s) option.

  1. (Optional) Clear the default selected options if you only want to remove the Windows.old folder to free up space.
  2. Click the Remove files button.

After completing the steps, the folder with the previous installation of Windows 10 will be removed freeing up 14GB to 20GB of storage space on your primary hard drive.

How to delete the Windows.old folder using Disk Cleanup

You can also delete the Windows.old folder using the legacy Disk Cleanup tool with these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click on This PC from the left pane.
  3. Under the "Devices and drives" section, right-click the drive with the Windows 10 installation (usually the C drive) and select the Properties option.

  1. In the "General" tab, click the Disk Cleanup button.

  1. Click the Cleanup system files button.

  1. Check the Previous Windows installation(s) option.

  1. (Optional) Clear the default selected options if you only want to remove the Windows.old folder to free up space.Important: Starting with the October 2018 Update, Windows 10 is deprecating Disk Cleanup in favor of Storage sense, but it adds an option to delete all the contents from the Downloads folder. If you're using this option, and you have important files in the Downloads folder, make sure to clear this option.
  2. Click the OK button.
  3. Click the Delete Files button to confirm the deletion.
  4. Click the Yes button to confirm the warning.

Once you've completed the steps, the Windows.old folder will be removed from your device.

Wrapping things up

While it's safe to delete the Windows.old folder, if you remove its contents, you will no longer be able to use the recovery options to rollback to the previous version of Windows 10. If you delete the folder, and then you want to rollback, you'll need to perform a clean installation with the desire version.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

77 Comments
  • How the hell do we remove old apps, like the blank FB beta app link, in W10M❓❓ Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • I still use Facebook beta for my business profile and Facebook for my personal life on my w10m...im so glad there's two official apps, so I'm not using a third party...wondering why your link is not working..
  • Completely agree! I use the beta app to access my other account. So very glad it's there.
  • If your app list gets stuck like that I used to find that the only way, was to re-download the app, and then uninstall it. Hasn't happened in forever though
  • In some cases you should use advanced startup and the CMD line. I can write the steps if you would like to add it to the article Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • EASIEST WAY: Use CCleaner, it has option to remove Windows.old automatically and quickly.
  • Try to avoid 3rd party apps. They can often cause more trouble than help. ;) Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • It's safe program used to delete temp data etc. and many users had it installed but haven't noticed option to delete Windows.old.
  • Well it is, but just why to use it, if the easy way is direclty in OS included.
  • CCleaner can cause a lot of issues. Its not worth using it except for a very few cases. Windows is so complex with registry info that anything like that can cause many more problems...
  • What kind of problems? I've been using it for years with no apparent problems. Coincidentally, I used it just yesterday, and had it delete my old installation.
  • The problem I have run into is when it cleans the registry.  Most time it does not cause an issue, but once in a while I have had an issue.
  • I always use the option to backup the registry first, but I've never had to use it.
  • I never had any problems with CCleaner.
  • In the 6 years I've used CCleaner I've never had a problem. Especially not with the registry cleaner. I only update it once in a blue moon too :D
  • Forgive them.. They don't know what they are saying
  • Actually, CCleaner can be adhoc in deleting what it believes as rogue entries. I've had a few instances on Windows 7 that it removed file defaults for some file types. Wasn't too difficult to fix via control panel but for the average joe who is not even aware of the control panel it would seem like a difficult fix.
  • CCleaner was marginally useful when it was free and now almost all the features that made it useful are in a paid version. So it's now a pointless "freeware" application.
  • Firstly, the method mentioned in here is the 'old way' and the article should really point you to Settings/System/Storage/This PC/Temporary Files to delete your old Windows installation rather than the old control panel method. If it is supposed to be about W10. Secondly, this method often fails due to the files somehow being 'in use' which is bunkum (I've had this right after a clean install, and I think it is caused by some system drivers in some PCs that Windows auto-installs). The approach, then, is to take ownership of the folder, add full rights for yourself and for admin, then boot to USB stick command line (recovery stick) and delete the folder properly.
  • Sounds like your 'new way' is more difficult.
    Does it clean more files this way?
    Adding provilages to folders can be annoying and sometimes doesn't work as intended.
  • I've been waiting for this article for a long time! Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Thanks for the info. This is how I have always done it as well and it has worked every time I have tried :).
  • Same with me although this article just showed me a faster way to get to the disk cleanup.
  • Haha. Me too :). I didn't know I could get into that way. Although, I do search for it and find it easy enough.
  • there's a faster way to open Disk Cleanup. Run-> cleanmgr
  • That is really a good tip
  • Is there a way to get rid of internet explorer? I use edge and im tired of seeing the old browser.
  • Why don'​t you just ignore it? If it bothers you that much, search for "Disable or enable Windows features" in the start menu and untick Internet Explorer from the list.
  • Edge is IE so no.. And say what you want but it literally is IE stripped down with a different UI..
  • Except that Edge is not IE. Not even close. For Edge they forked the really good Trident rendering engine, stripped out all the legacy stuff and then started fresh.
  • Type "default programs" in search bar. Cick top choice and set Edge as default. Open Edge and pin it to taskbar. Delete icon for IE.
  • On both PCs I have Windows 10 on the Windows.old directory persists even after disk cleanup. The files that remain are all in C;\Windows.old\System32\drivers. I kind of assumed this was by design and that those drivers were still in use. Maybe that's not true. I feel like this post is incomplete.
  • That happened to me, too, oddly, however, deleting them turned out to work without causing any issues. Not to mention the exact same files are in C:\Windows\system32\drivers anyway. Of course, to be sure, you could just move them to the recycle bin, reboot your PC and fully delete them after some time if you don't encounter any issues.
  • Much better with the fonts now, but still experiencing crashes Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • With Terabytes of storage space
    I don't much care...
  • Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
    .
    .
    :D
  • This works perfectly: http://deletewindowsold.com/
  • you mean SHIFT+Delete on Windows.old isn't the right way?
  • Seems to remove the Windows.old folder faster.  
  • Can we just move the folder to an external HDD? --
    I am someone, of the 2639th variety.
  • Why not just hit the Windows key and start typing Disk Cleanup... It takes you straight there...
  • That's for advanced users. ;-)
  • Here's another one. Go to settings>system>storage>this pc(:C)>temporary files>chose to delete.
  • Could you just select the folder and delete it?
  • I run ccleaner on over 1,000 systems 4 times a day. I have never had a single issue.
  • After years of using windows, I always delete windows.old with 'shift+delete' button.. I really never thought of this.. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Or search "Storage" and click on "This PC" then "System & reserved" and you should be able to remove Windows.old from there.
  • But why? It deletes itself after 30 days! Just in case you want to roll back! After that you can't roll back. And the file is automaticly deleted.
  • I have had to revert back a few times. I suggest don't delete it.
  • Now a proper way of removing pre installed apps?
  • Tanku.....
  • Yesterday I loses 'mail app' after removing windows.old with CCleaner, can't get. It back
  • Hello,   I just went through the same problem. Go to the Windows store, open the Store's app commands, and then tap or click Your apps. You should see an app called Mail, Calendar, People and Messaging in the apps not installed on this pc . You can reinstall it from there.   Cheers.
  • Run Windows PowerShell as an administrator. Run the following PowerShell command: Get-appxprovisionedpackage –online | where-object {$_.packagename –like “*windowscommunicationsapps*”} | remove-appxprovisionedpackage –online Reinstall Mail, People, and Calendar located in the store.
  • I dont see a Windows.old there. I tried the whole thing. Perhaps maybe since I'm an SP3 i3 64GB user. Maybe they must've already cleaned that in the installation of Win10. Knowing its a mess because of the lack of space it already has.
  • Windows.old will be deleted automatically after 30 days.
    Only users sub folder will not be deleted Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Thanks it help a lot for me it work perfectly!
  • In my case, the Windows.old folder will not go away, no matter how much I try. It's a couple of kb's small though, so not a disk issue anymore. But annoying the folder does not get deleted. I just made it hidden. Outta sight, outta mind.
  • Yes, I had bad experience about CCleaner it damaged my registry setting once and from then performance of my lapy get affect. So I uninstall it on win 7 platform. I am not saying its bad but may be everyone should not know how to use it, like me.
  • did you do registry fix with CCleaner?
  • Yes its true at first disk clean you not see it but after doing first clean again same window for clean target will open, just scroll down, you will see it there as I face same issue. But finally I did.
  • I still go and swipe to the left to get to the comments section after clicking on an article. Of course, nothing happens... :) Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • good tip ... i always did this when win 10 insider did an update on my tablet because of limited space ... i find it odd people are still monkeying with things like CCleaner ... this isn't XP days any more ... no need to be cleaning registries.  No need for defragging or any of that nonsense either ... welcome to the 21st century.
  • Ya, there is still a need to clean up old entries. I hate it when I uninstall a program and it leaves traces behind. Programs like TiVo desktop, Freemake, etc... are terrible at leaving lots of things behind.
  • Right click, delete works pretty well too, just sayin'.
  • After yesterday's big update, the "Windows.old" can't be deleted even if you disable "read only"... it says "you require permission from SYSTEM"... Yeap, Microsoft did it again.... :(
  • If you tried that method and old folder is there .. Then restart your pc 4 to 5 time in a row .. Then try this method
  • And then after 5 minutes, restart 20 times without looking at the screen.
  • You could simplify the first 4 steps by saying: open your start menu and type Disk Cleanup, Click on Disk cleanup.
  • Sometimes it will not let you delete the Windows.old directory. What I do is boot from a Windows USB created from the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. From there, click Next through the initial Windows Setup window, and Repair your computer on the next window. Select Troubleshoot and then Command Prompt. At the command prompt, it will come up as possibly the X drive. Navigate to the C: drive (or D: drive in Hyper-V). Type "dir" to see the directory with the Windows.old directory. Next, type "rd /s /q Windows.old". This will remove the directory and all the subdirectories without prompting (quietly). Type "dir" again just to verify that it is gone. Type "exit" to exit the command prompt, and then reboot!
  • Yes you can't delete it entirely from protected mode Windows.
  • Easiest way
    Simply navigate to C drive
    Shift+Delete the Windows.Old folder Simple.
  • To open Disk Cleanup is a lot simpler than the directions make it seem. Open the start menu, type Disk Cleanup, and click it in the search results.
  • Why do we need so many ways to do this?
  • Just how would we spend all of our time if we didn't have the OS that's the king eternal of hacks and workarounds? I used to really be annoyed by it... and used to fantasize about sending MS a bill for my time... pain... and suffering... but now I just figure that's part of the fun of Windows! :0o With Mac and Chrome OS a person doesn't have to hardly ever think about their OS, right? With Windows though the "icing on the cake" is how much we increase our tech-support knowledge just trying to keep the system from blowing up in a sea of flames and burning our house to ground with it in the middle of the night. And to think... we don't even have to pay for this education! :0)
  • The Storage Sense method always leaves the Windows.old folder behind for me and then I have to mess around in Powershell removing the folder.