Delete or remove Windows.old folder after Windows Upgrade in Windows 10

If you install Windows Vista on a computer which has Windows XP installed or if you perform a custom installation of Windows Vista instead of an upgrade installation, you will see a Windows.old folder on your system drive. Similarly, even if you install Windows 7 or Windows 8 by performing a custom installation and don’t format the partition during the installation process, files that were used in your previous version of Windows are stored in the Windows.old folder. In short, whenever you upgrade your Windows to a later version, you will see a new folder called Windows.old created on your disk.

Windows.old folder in Windows 10/8/7

Remove Windows old folder

The Windows.old folder is generated if the following conditions are true:

  • You install a newer version of Windows on a computer on which an earlier version of Microsoft Windows is installed.
  • You perform a custom installation of Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 instead of an upgrade installation.
  • You install Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 on the drive on which Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows 7 – as the case may be – is installed.

This Windows.old folder contains the following folders from your old Windows installation:

  • Windows
  • Documents and Settings
  • Program Files

You can use this folder to retrieve any documents from your old installation, as follows:

  • Click Start, type %systemdrive%\Windows.old in the Start Search box, and hit Enter.
  • Retrieve the files from the Windows.old folder.

Alternatively, you may simply use the Recover Personal Files Tool in Windows 8 to retrieve files from the Windows.old folder.

Delete or remove Windows.old folder

After a Windows Upgrade, by default, a scheduled task is created and will run after four weeks to delete the Windows.Old directory. But if you wish, you can also remove the Windows.old folder manually earlier. If you find that you no longer have any use for it, you may safely go ahead and delete it as follows:

Delete Windows.old folder using Disk Cleanup

Open Disk Cleanup Tool and select Files from all users on this computer. Click the Disk Cleanup tab, and then look for the Previous Windows installation(s) check box. You will need to click on Clean up system files button, in order to see this window.

disk cleanup

Select Previous Windows installations. Click OK. This will remove the Windows.old folder.

Remove Windows.old folder using Command Prompt

Alternatively, you can also use a command prompt to delete files and folders from an earlier installation of Windows. To do this, Run ‘Command Prompt’ as administrator.

First, you will need to take ownership of this folder, so at the command prompt, type

takeown /F C:\Windows.old\* /R /A

and hit Enter.

Next, in the command prompt, type

cacls C:\Windows.old\*.* /T /grant administrators:F
cmd ownership

and hit Enter. When you run this command, administrators are granted full rights to all files and to all folders.

Finally, type

rmdir /S /Q C:\Windows.old\

and hit Enter. This will delete the windows.old folder.

UPDATE: SpaceWalker189 says in the Comments below, you can create a BAT file as follows:

takeown /F C:\Windows.old\* /R /A
pause
cacls C:\Windows.old\*.* /T /grant administrators:F
pause
rmdir /S /Q C:\Windows.old\
pause

Copy-paste this in Notepad and save it as a .bat file.

Read next: Can you delete $Windows.~BT & $Windows.~WS folders after Windows 10 upgrade?

Post ported from WVC

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

97 Comments

  1. nerd1

    can someone make a bat for the lazy admin 😀

  2. LOL! How lazy!? 😀 If the Disk Cleanup Tool looks like work, try CCleaner. It has the option too.

  3. Frances Robinson

    I just want to say thank you, this information was very helpful.

  4. Naren Ram

    Thank u..

  5. Scorpion

    Awesome Post. Finally one that worked. Thanks for the “DOS” commands. Good stuff 🙂

  6. Emem Sunday Umoh

    This solved my nightmare, Thank you very much.

  7. ferdnand

    wow, thank you so much. at last the nightmare is out. i would want to learn more of these commands

  8. Erick

    after you delete a windows.old folder with disk cleanup, is it absolutely, positively, forever gone? or is there ANY possible way to get it back? I need one video from an old .old folder that was “freed up” during cleanup.

  9. I don’t think you may be able to recover it, but if you know the file name, you could try using a data recovery freeware: https://www.thewindowsclub.com/7-free-data-recovery-software-to-recover-deleted-files-in-windows-7.

    Let us know if you were successful. All the best. 🙂

  10. Farrukh

    YaHOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Its Works . Thank you Sir.

  11. You are welcome! 😀

  12. tired of Windows

    Have tried everything I can come across. nothing seems to work. tried this as last resort and the windows.old folder is still looking back at me. time for a clean slate install. Windows is so much fun!!!

  13. not happy

    tried everything in Windows nothing worked. Booted to a live distro of linux and removed the windows.old folder in seconds. What is the problem with the windows programers? Do they setout to make windows users lives trying.

  14. shibabrata

    “TAKEOWN” is not recognize AS A INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL COMMAND …NOW WHAT CAN I DO ?

  15. Handy

    I upgraded from win7 to win8 months ago. The windows.old folder is absolutely removed after doing the cmd method but I got some apps force close such as: explorer & control panel. I also got my dolby driver failed to load. What should I do to solve this problem?

  16. French Quarter Nana

    My husband’s desktop dcomputer “crashed” and I reinstalled Windows 7 back in May; and when I went back in several days later to delete windows.old, I got notified that a number of files were “program files” and the prompt asked me if I was certain I wanted to delete them; and I let myself be bamboozled into keeping them. I needed to repeat the reinstallation — just yesterday — and am wondering whether there is any need to hold on to those old “program files”.

  17. Jesse Afolabi

    alternatively a Linux live cd does the trick

  18. Thank you so much. old window folder consumed very large space of drive.
    dos commands working good

  19. ballinsaint24

    Thank you!!

  20. Chris

    thank you

  21. MiguelRose Babyko Rosas

    hi I need your help please, I have a Lenovo that came with windows 8.1 and I just install the CC cleaner and check the delete old windows folder, my question is, if in the future I need to use the one touch recovery app do it will still work after the old windows folder was delete? or because I delete the old windows folder I won’t be able to recovery my system? Thank you in advance for your help.

  22. If your laptop came with Windows 8.1already installed, it may not have a Windows.old folder. This folder can be used to only retrieve documents form your old installation. In any case, your One touch recovery app on your Windows 8.1 will continue to work even if you delete this folder.

  23. MiguelRose Babyko Rosas

    thank you so much for helping with my question, now I feel much better 🙂 thanks

  24. Sachin

    Hi Anand, I see the windows.old folder after installer windows 2008 standard sp2 on a server which earlier had windows enterprise 2008 sp2. My query is – Will this have any impact on any new installation on my current OS(i.e., Windows 2008 standard sp2)?

  25. thearyheng

    how can i recovery Folder Windows.old after it was deleted by Ccleaner?

  26. learner

    my “takedown” command doesn’t work, pls help

  27. Shivam

    Access is denied after third command please help me sir

  28. Gazza

    Should be takeown

  29. Johnny

    Thank you!

  30. Bhushan

    go to run type cleanmgr.exe then press enter
    after that disk clean up tool screen appear, then select C drive and Ok.
    after all u will see disk clean up window.
    In that window choose ‘cleanup system files’ when process completed u will see new option in that windows i.e. Previous windows installation file. Select these and clean. That’s All…..

  31. Martin

    It sounds logical, what you describe. I’ll try

  32. abbazabapress

    please search @@@windows 8.1 key sale@@@ on bing, you will get a full set of activation code, it is very easy to use ,maybe helpful

  33. Lucas Borghi

    Thank You very much! You’ve made my day!
    Ps. DOS Command RULEZ, i’ve tried everything till i found this page, and the DOS thing just worked!

  34. capamovil

    perfect activation expreience, everything becomes easy when you search @@@windows 8?1 key sale@@@ from bing.

  35. Paul Johnson

    Anand – you are one darned good Windows SysAdmin. Thank you for answering the issue in such a clear and concise manner.

    pj

  36. Lxixboss

    Wow! A million thanks! Would you believe I just freed up 84.3GB from my C drive which went from 140GB to under 60GB. I can now migrate everything to my 128GB mSATA drive!

  37. Guest

    Thanks for the DOS instructions! Works perfect on Win 8.1 as well.

  38. asdfg

    i dont know y but it shows error

  39. qazxsw

    works also for deleting $Windows.~BT folder which appers after upgrading from windows 8 to 8.1. thanks.

  40. preali

    Thanks for the great post. After reading a couple of other posts this one worked. I loaded windows 7 in an older laptop over an old installation of Vista and it left a couple of copies of Windows.old on the drive. Other posts I read gave all kinds of information on changing ownership of the directories that was a waste of time. Some mentioned using disk cleanup up but said that windows.old would show up in the cleanup files. It wasn’t until I read your article that said to delete temp files that it did a two step process. First it deleted the temporary files then came back and windows.old then showed up. I then deleted that and after about 20 minutes the process completed successfully.

  41. kittu

    thanks a ton 🙂

  42. Ravi Kota

    i installed windows7 on windows8.1 in the same drive then my windows8.1 moved to windows.old folder, now my pc is not showing boot options from windows8.1. can any one help how to set a bootable option from windows.old folder to access my windows8.1 from the same C: drive.

  43. Charles Stevens

    Email Me @ acidhackshere ‘ AT’ gmail.com to get a vb.net tool to do this for you

  44. Dr. I. T.

    I am having a hard time finding the windows.old folder. It is not where it normally would be. I have searched my computer from top to bottom and still to no avail. however, I installed a new o.s. on my system. and now my hdd is full to it’s max…
    I don’t understand it. there must be some way I can find the files so I can get rid of it and get some space back on my hdd. any help would be most appreciated…

  45. Stumbled in from Google

    Thanks – I had been looking on and off for a few months (nothing deep, as this came up in Google pretty quick), but wanted to thank you for the Command Prompt options – I had tried the other methods from other websites, but this was the first cmd that worked.

  46. smithmm

    THANK YOU!

  47. SpaceWalker189

    takeown /F C:Windows.old* /R /A
    pause
    cacls C:Windows.old*.* /T /grant administrators:F
    pause
    rmdir /S /Q C:Windows.old
    pause

    Not that hard? :p

  48. Jackson Ingels

    Thanks this worked but the takeown command took long as hell(45 minutes)

  49. Finally… I came up on a working method. Thanks for it

  50. Zotman

    Bingo! You rock!

  51. A351

    1. First method, there is no “Temporary Windows installations” in my Cleanup
    2. Your step by step Command prompt guide is missing every second step!! Even your screenshot is clearly showing a (Y,N) Question, which you don’t address in your tutorial. Obviously I selected Y on every step, but still Access denied.

  52. nevermind

    Thanks very helpful!!

  53. Rene

    C:Windowssystem32>rmdir /S /Q C:Windows.old
    The path C:Windows.oldUsersDJMAX_~1AppDataLocalPackagesWINSTO~1ACMICROS
    ~1WINDOW~1Cache-Namespace-https???services.apps.microsoft.com?browse?6.2.9
    200-1?615?en-US?c?DK?Namespace?pc?00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000?00000000-
    0000-0000-0000-000000000000.dat is too long.

    what can i do with this?

  54. Mark Kenneth Oraa Ferrer

    Thank you!! I just update my windows 10 buidl 10074 to 10130 and I saw that windows.old file thanks for this tutorial!

  55. patrick

    use long path tool

  56. David

    Thank u……

  57. archer

    Hi!
    I want to reset my Lenovo to factory state to eliminate a possible virus. Is there any possibility the virus could remain in Windows.old?

  58. Rudolph

    This is useful after installing win 10

  59. John

    Ok…So then i can’t install previous windows version such as 7,vista & xp?

  60. 121GWJolt

    Maybe you can try it while running command prompt as an actual administrator?

    Either that, or your windows install is broken.

  61. Andre Brazil

    cacls not worked for me, so i used icacls, worked like a charm

    icacls C:Windows.old*.* /T /grant administrators:F

  62. Neil Roberts

    thnaks for that info

  63. peterincumbria

    Works great on Win 10. on command

    takeown /F C:Windows.old* /R /A

    Answer Y(es) to the prompt which shows after a few seconds then continue with command

    cacls C:Windows.old*.* /T /grant administrators:F

  64. memorymad

    Thank you very much for this info! I’ve tried for hours to delete that pesky folder. These instructions where the only one that worked!

  65. Black Knigth

    a year later, but Recuva can give that file back.

  66. Zeeshan

    hi, i installed window7, as a result old window moved in D drive and new window is in C , i want to delete old window files from D, how i can do it, …???

  67. Echa Eqhy

    thanks you.. it work 😀

  68. Dominic Levey

    didnt work came up access denied

  69. Rashmi

    Thanks a lot!!!!!!!!! it works well.

  70. vivek

    sir I was having window 7, 32 bit on my laptop then I installed window 8 ,64 bit again and later I upgraded it to window 10. but now if I start my laptop it is asking me every time to choose window 7 or window 10 to start. I think the person who installed it for me have removed some files of window 7 but it is still asking me at the time of start. please advice how can I remove this window seven completely .

  71. frittb

    Thank you very much!!!
    It’s really helpful!!!

  72. Abanoub Ibrahim

    thanks

  73. Keith Taylor

    Tried this but final stage – rmdir /S /Q C:Windows.old – failed with access denied.

  74. Pedders

    worked like a charm! thank you 😀

  75. Amanjyot Singh

    I am unable to find the complete files on windows.old in my c drive. It is eating the space of c-drive. Could you please suggest as i am using windows 7 home premium operating system.

  76. Jim Mooneyhan

    Then explain WHY I still have a Windows.old folder that I still can’t delete?? On the last command, all files say “Access is denied” and I still have a Window.old folder with at least 3GB data that will NOT erase even with the “del c:windows.old*.* ” command.

  77. Jim Mooneyhan

    Then explain WHY I still have a Windows.old folder that I still can’t delete?? On the last command, all files say “Access is denied” and I still have a Window.old folder with at least 3GB data that will NOT erase even with the “del c:windows.old*.* ” command and no matter what I do, this file will NOT go away.

  78. Nadia Fayaz

    I tried this, but for all files that were suppose to be deleted said “access is denied”. can someone help me out please as it takes alot of space on my laptop

  79. Use the built-in Disk Cleanup Tool. Open Disk Cleanup Tool and select Files from all users on this computer. Click the Disk Cleanup tab, and then look for the Temporary Windows installations check box. You may need to click on Clean up system files button, in order to see this window.

  80. Nadia Fayaz

    I have tried using the disk cleanup tool several times, yet i still cant manage to delete it because it says i need to make the folder as an adminstrator its taking so much space 42GB!!!! Is there another way
    🙂

  81. Jeetu Kumar

    Don’t Forget to Run the .bat file as Administrator!!!

  82. You can try using Long Path Tool. It can solve any access denied problems.

  83. Nick_F

    Consider yourself lucky. I booted in OpenSuse, went to delete the Windows.old folder. After half an hour of attempting to move the folder to trash, it reported the folder is too large for the trash so it left it there. Not even an offer to immediately erase the folder.

  84. Nick_F

    Neither of the two solutions work on my two computers with latest Windows 10. Disk cleanup does not offer to delete the Previous Windows installations and the commands do not erase the folder (although they are executed, they raise all sorts of errors as missing files, etc and I run them with administrator rights).

  85. Edson Sousa

    Sorry but that commands didn’t work with me. I couldn’t delete the windows.old folder on Win10.

  86. You could use the Disk Cleanup Tool as well…

  87. Christo Chiramukhathu

    Thanks Mr Anand.

  88. EZIXZT

    good! thank you!

  89. StrangerDanger

    I have never had an issue deleting Windows.old using Disc Cleanup, however, I have one system running Windows 10 and for the life of me it won’t go away. Even the command prompt method won’t work. Gives me ACCESS IS DENIED errors!

  90. Remove your hard-drive, plug it into another computer as an extra drive, delete whatever you like from your hard-drive, reinstall your hard-drive back into your computer, have cup of coffee. ?

    If you copy the files to some external drive first, this method also allows you to put those files back to where you got them from, in case something went wrong.

  91. Dexter Nierva

    Thank you very much!

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