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How to reclaim space after upgrading to Windows 10 October 2020 Update

Delete previous installation files of Windows 10
Delete previous installation files of Windows 10 (Image credit: Windows Central)

On Windows 10, when you upgrade to a new version, such as the October 2020 Update, the setup process creates a copy of the previous installation in case the device has to roll back to its original settings because of a critical error or compatibility issue during or after the upgrade. (Check out our full Windows 10 October 2020 Update review for details on this release.)

Although this safeguard mechanism can help revert changes in certain scenarios, the files can take a significant amount of space (inside the "Windows.old" folder). Getting rid of the previous installation files allows you to reclaim close to 20GB of storage, which may not seem like a lot, but on laptops with limited storage could mean more time without thinking about replacing the hard drive.

This only applies to devices coming from the November 2019 Update, May 2020 Update, and older releases, since computers using the May 2020 Update (version 2004) will receive version 20H2 as a monthly quality update, which doesn't require reinstallation and won't take much space.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to remove the backup copy of the previous installation after installing version 20H2 using Settings and Disk Cleanup.

How to free up space after October 2020 Update using Storage sense

If you're coming from Windows 10 version 1909, 1903, or an older release, use these steps to reclaim storage space after the installation:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the "Storage" section, click the Configure Storage Sense or run it now option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Free up space now" section, check the Delete previous version of Windows option.
  2. Click the Clean now button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, the previous installation files will be removed from the primary hard drive reclaiming several gigabytes of space.

How to free up space after October 2020 Update using Temporary files

You can also remove the previous installation backup files with these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the "(C:)" section, click the Temporary files option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the Previous Windows installation(s) option.Quick tip: You can also select other temporary files to recover additional space. If you have important files in the "Downloads" folder, make sure to clear the option (if applicable).

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Remove files button.

After you complete the steps, the files from the previous installation will be removed from the device.

How to free up space after October 2020 Update using Disk Cleanup

Alternatively, you can use the Disk Cleanup tool to delete the backup copy of the previous setup after upgrading to the October 2020 Update.

To use Disk Cleanup to remove the previous Windows 10 installation, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Disk Cleanup, click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Click the Clean up system files button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the Previous Windows installation(s) option.Quick tip: You can also select other temporary files (such as Delivery Optimization Files and Windows update log files) to recover even more space. If you have important files in the "Downloads" folder, make sure to clear the option (if applicable).

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the "Windows.old" folder with a copy of the old setup will be deleted, freeing up storage on the computer.

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.

1 Comment
  • Am I the only one who believes these screenshots of the Settings app are really out-dated in regards to 20H2?
    Also, for me the Delete files from the Recycle Bin option was removed and replaced with Delete files from Downloads folder if older than, and another option deleting files from Downloads folder if they haven't been opened since. When was the Recycle Bin option removed? Or is it a label or translation issue and the Recycle Bin label had been rewritten mistakenly by Downloads folder? Anybody?