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How to reclaim space after upgrading to Windows 11 2022 Update

Windows 11 version 22H2 delete previous installation
Windows 11 version 22H2 delete previous installation (Image credit: Mauro Huculak)

The upgrade process to any version of Windows 11 (such as the 2022 Update) usually creates a copy of the previous installation as a precaution. If a critical error or compatibility problem occurs, then the system has a way to roll back to the previous settings.

The caveat is that the copy will be stored on your computer (inside the "Windows.old" folder) even after the upgrade is completed without problems, wasting a lot of valuable space. If you delete these files, you can free up somewhere in the 20GB range, which may not be significant for devices with large drives, but it could be an issue for devices with limited storage.

Of course, this would only be the case if you come from an in-place upgrade since a clean installation will erase the hard drive before upgrading to the new version of Windows 11.

How to free up space after Windows 11 2022 Update using Temporary files

To delete the previous version of Windows 11 to free up space after version 22H2, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  1. Click the Temporary files setting.

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  1. Clear all the pre-selected items.
  2. Check the Previous Windows installation(s) item.

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  1. Click the Remove files button.

Once you complete the steps, the copy of the previous installation will be deleted from the computer, freeing up several gigabytes of space.

How to free up space after Windows 11 2022 Update using Cleanup recommendations

You can also clear out the previous installation similar to the above steps through the Cleanup recommendations settings.

To free up space with the Cleanup recommendations page, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  1. Under the "Storage management" section, click the Cleanup recommendations setting.

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  1. Under the "Temporary files" section, check the Previous Windows installation(s) item.

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  1. Click the Clean up button.

After you complete the steps, the system will proceed to delete the previous installation files.

How to free up space after Windows 11 2022 Update using Disk Cleanup

Alternatively, you can still use the Disk Cleanup tool to delete the previous installation files after the Windows 11 2022 Update installation.

To use Disk Cleanup to remove the "Windows.old" folder with the previous setup on Windows 11, use these steps:

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

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  1. Check the Previous Windows installation(s) option.

(Image credit: Mauro Huculak)
  • Quick tip: You can also select other temporary files (such as Delivery Optimization Files and Windows update log files) to recover even more storage.
  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 space on the computer.

More resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, 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.