By Ivy / Last update December 13, 2021

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What's the Windows.old Folder?

The Windows.old folder is a folder in system partition (typically C: drive) to save the previous version of Windows system when you upgrade your Windows to a new one without formatting your hard drive or doing a clean install. The Windows.old folder contains previous Windows, program files, and all the data of Users. It was first introduced by Windows Vista, also applies to Windows 7/8/8.1/10.

Windows.old Folder

What does Windows.old folder can do for you? First, it allows you to rollback to previous Windows. For example: you’ve upgraded your Windows 7 to Windows 10 and then you can also revert back to Windows 7 with the Windows.old folder if you dislike this version of Windows. Second, it gives you a chance to restore some individual files and programs from the Windows.old folder.

Windows.old folder will be deleted automatically after a month you upgrade. That's to say, you do not need to manually delete this folder if your disk space is enough. But if your disk is in a low disk space, you can delete Windows.old whether in Windows 10/8/7.


Can I delete my Windows.old folder in Windows 10?

Many users report that the size of Windows.old is too large and the system partition is filling up. Can I delete this folder for more space?

Yes, you can delete Windows.old folder to free up space. However, you will no longer be able to downgrade the current Windows to a previous version. To ensure the data and OS is safe, you are supposed to backup the entire system for Windows 10 recovery in case of unexpected system failure and other errors.


Backup Windows 10 before deleting Windows.old folder

I strongly recommended you backup Windows 10 to an external storage device to ensure your data and OS valid and available. How to backup Windows 10? The Windows 10 backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard will do this in the safest and easiest way.

Download Freeware

Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP

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To backup Windows 10 PC, you can download AOMEI Backupper Standard and launch the program. Then, click Backup and System Backup on the main console, select a location for your backup, click Start Backup finally.

Also, you choose other backup solutions depending on your needs, such as, Disk Backup, File Backup, Partition Backup.

System Backup

✍AOMEI Backupper will detect the system partition, system reserved partition and system recovery partition automatically, so there is no need to select manually.
✍You can configure the image with Options and Schedule if necessary.
✍For the destination path, you can choose an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, a NAS device or a network share, etc.
✍AOMEI Backupper also provides you System Restore feature, which allows you to restore the image from external hard drive or the storage you backup the system.
✍If your computer is unbootable, you still can create a bootable media on a working computer, use it to start your computer and restore image.


Delete Windows.old folder in Windows 10 using Disk Cleanup

Windows old won’t be deleted automatically until 10 days later after you upgrade Windows from a previous version. The Windows.old is a system folder, so you cannot easily remove it. Want to free up space for C drive, you can delete this folder with Disk Cleanup utility. This is the most easer way.

In Disk Cleanup, you cannot see Windows.old, because it has a different name called Previous Windows installation(s). If you cannot find it either, you should click on the Clean up system files button first.

Tip: In case of you need the Windows.old folder later, you can backup Windows.old folder to external storage device before deleting it.

The following steps are about how to delete Windows old folder in Windows 10 without data loss.

Step 1. Press Windows + E to enter the File Explorer. Click “This PC” at the left panel.

Step 2. Right click the C drive under the “Devices and drives”, select “Properties”.

Step 3. In the next window, click “Disk cleanup

Step 4. Click “Clean up system files”.

Cleanup System Files

Step 5. Select “Previous Windows Installation(s)” only, then press “OK” to start cleanup. You can delete other related files by your own needs.

Besides, you still can enter cleanup in the Windows 10 search box and finish the rest of steps with the on-screen instructions.

This method is suitable for Windows 10 as well as Windows 8/7, so you can use Disk Cleanup to delete Windows old in Windows 10/8/7.


Delete Windows.old folder in Windows 10 without Disk Cleanup

If you don’t want to use Disk Cleanup, you still can take advantage of the Storage sense feature to remove the Windows.old folder.

Step 1. Go to Start > Settings > System > Storage.

Step 2. Slide to Storage sense tab and select Change how we free up space automatically option.

Change How We Free up Space Automatically

Step 3. Slide to Free up space now and tick Delete previous versions of Windows, then click Clean now.


Delete Windows.old folder in Windows 10 via Temporary files settings

Step 1. Go to Storage and click Free up space now under the Storage sense tab.

Free up Space Now

Step 2. Under the Temporary files settings, tick Previous Windows installations and uncheck other options.

Step 3. Click the Remove files button.


Delete Windows.old folder in Windows 10 using CMD

If you are familiar with command prompt, you can try to remove Windows old in Windows 10 with CMD.

Detailed steps are below.

Step 1. Type cmd in the search box, select it and run as administrator.

Step 2. Type the following commands and hit Enter after each one.

  • takeown /F c:\Windows.old\* /R /A /D Y

  • cacls c:\Windows.old\*.* /T /grant administrators:F

  • rmdir /S /Q c:\Windows.old

The first command takeown is used to give ownership to the administrator group. The second command is to displays or modifies DACL (discretionary access control list) files. And the last one is to remove a specific directory.

Step 3. Type exit to leave this window.


In the end

Reading here, you should delete Windows.old folder in Windows 10/8/7. And we must pay attention to the safety of computer. You can clean install the operating system after the system crash, but you need to spend much time in reinstalling programs. More seriously, your data will go forever when your computer does not work properly.

To keep it safe, you need to backup system, disk, partition, or files first, and then delete Window old in Windows 10/8/7.