How to Delete the Windows.old Folder in Windows 10

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When you upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10, the software retains a copy of your old operating system just in case you want to revert. However, if you decide that you're happy running Windows 10 and don't want to roll back, you're left with at least 15GB of wasted space on your hard drive, all of it stored in a folder called Windows.old. If you simply try to delete the Windows.old directory in File Explorer, the system won't let you remove most of the files because it considers them system files. 

windows.old

Deleting the Windows.old folder involves three basic actions:

  1. Search for and open the "Free up space..." utility.
  2. Click Cleanup System Files.
  3. Check Previous Windows Installations.

Step-by-Step Instructions with Screenshots

1. Type "Free up disk space" into the Windows search box.

free up disk space

2. Click the shortcut for "Free up disk space . . ."

free up disk space

3. Click OK. Change the drive if your Windows disk is not already selected. 

Click Ok

MORE: How to Turn on 'Hey Cortana' in Windows 10

4. Click Clean up system files.

Clean up system files

5. Click OK again when the drive letter is displayed. The Disk Cleanup window will appear again.

Click OK

6. Check "Previews Windows installation(s)" in the Files to delete box and Click OK.

Delete Windows versions

7. Click Delete Files when asked to confirm.

Click Delete Files

8. Click Yes when prompted to confirm your decision.

Click Yes

The software will take anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes to delete the files.

How to Delete the Windows.old Folder in Windows 10

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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50 comments
  • China Mike Says:

    Step 6 might confuse novices. There is a major typo in the instructions. It says "Previews Windows installation(s)" rather than "Previous".

  • selene Says:

    hey, Thank you, This post helped me a lot, Gracias

  • cat :3 Says:

    Thanks! You Helped Me Save A Lot Of Space. :3

  • Shahid Malik Says:

    Great Post. It helps a lot. keep it up....

  • Ryan Angel Says:

    Hi , i have this folder "Windows.old" But why i have this folder. I don't make upgrade. I install my windows on already clean harddisk ,so now when i go on "disk cleanup"i don't have "delete previous windows instalations" , so what to do now? :D

  • Robert Dennison Says:

    Thanks so much for making this material! It was really helpful.

  • Vcek5 Says:

    Just navigate to the folder and delete it, I also recommend steam users to move their installation directory and save bandwidth.

  • Shane Bond Says:

    Thanks man its work for me actully i install windows 10 and my previous windows was windows 8. so for long time i have this folder now Freed up 15gb on my 10tb. thanks

  • Nila59 Says:

    It simply does not work. I tried it on numerous occasions.

  • Arash Says:

    thanks my widows 10 is clean up thanks you!

  • Sam Shun Says:

    Gracias it's works like magic.

  • Shilpa Says:

    This does not work for me. I do not have the option to remove old files through disk cleanup and I need permissions from SYSTEM in order to go in and delete it.

  • Prabhu AP Says:

    Thanks Dude, you saved 25GB for me...

  • Barbara Says:

    I'm glad to run upon you. I have a 2 year old HP Laptop. It had windows 8.1 which is hated. I just downloaded Windows 10 and I need to delete all Windows 8.1 files. I'm not sure how to get that done. Also,I have used this computer very little. My cellphone is better.

  • Kate19871 Says:

    This does not work for me. I do not have the option to remove old files through disk cleanup and I need permissions from SYSTEM in order to go in and delete it.

  • nne787818 Says:

    Thank you so much!! it works. bless you :)

  • sjones581 Says:

    Freed up 16gb on my 120gb OS SSD. Thanks a bunch!

  • Sam Suffit Says:

    The best hint I could find so far to get rid of the windows.old folder. Tnx a lot.

  • mustafa f377 Says:

    t y so much it works 4 me i saved about 22gb of my h d

  • Kevinl Says:

    I do not if it worked yet let you know later

  • sogel Says:

    it's work! thanks sir for tutorial...

  • Matt38 Says:

    @Ahsan Budhani
    Are you serious? You are literally asking if you can restore your old windows system after you delete your old windows. This is like asking if you can still eat the lunch that you threw away and got emptied from the trash. No, but you could make another lunch (reinstall the old version if you have a disk).

  • Adem940 Says:

    thank you very much ^^ good guide ^^

  • Sjonnie Says:

    Thank you very much! Very well explained and saved me 'round 16 GB on my VHD :-)

  • Dick head Says:

    Thanks dude..good info and you just help me out..keep a good work. Thumbs up

  • nick nunez Says:

    thx i just deleted 44gb! from win 8 to 10.

  • Trevor Bailey Says:

    I have just upgraded 1 tower (Win7) and 2 laptops (win 8.1). So far cleaned 1 of the laptops & got back 21GB OK. Others to be done. Thank you.

  • modda Says:

    i suggest that you use "Long Path Tool" its an amazing tool google it AND will solve your problem

  • Bong Khai Says:

    When I follow this, the previous windows installation does not exist. how can I do this. I do not upgrade from window 7,8. I just reset the window 10. but I also want to delete windows.old too. any idea?

  • christopher Says:

    thanks for this article. i have an asus x205a notebook with only 32gb storage, it had on windows 8.1 and i only had access to 15.1gb. after updraging to windows 10 i only had 7gb free but thanks to this article i recovered over 15gb free storage so i actually have 20gb using now which is awesome

  • Ahsan Budhani Says:

    Will I be able to revert back using my recovery disk ?
    Actually I dont want to revert. But in case of any system problem, I just want to make sure.

  • Vladimir Says:

    It helped to me. Everything was as in instructions. Thank you.

  • William Titus Says:

    Made Windows 10's start non-functional and I lost all desktop icons.

  • keith Says:

    does not work, have tried
    rm /s /q \windows.old
    & cleanup (requested old versions to be deleted)

  • Caitlin Says:

    THANK YOU! Worked like a charm!

  • COLLEN Says:

    I upgraded my tablet from windows 8.1 to windows 10 pro but after that it refused to activate windows then i tried to use kmico then it activated my windows but now my problem is i don't know how to remove old cause i tried to free up the space but it didn't work i help plz

  • preferred user Says:

    works for me I've done it on quite a few test builds it empties the old windows folders IOW the folders remain but empty .

    Sent from Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview advanced test Build 10532

  • jerry Says:

    This didn't work at all, the old windows files were not affected by using the disk cleanup utility.

  • Robert Says:

    Still does not remove the Windows.old folder, nor does it remove anything in it.
    I have tried multiple times, and restarted and attempted again.

  • Mark Says:

    Windows will automatically delete the Windows.old folder to free up space after a month.

  • Teknicl Says:

    OMG thank you. My little tablet laptop was ready to die up until I followed your steps.

  • Mic Says:

    Thank you. It represented about 20 Gb for me also, as I will not revert back to Windows 7 (Windows 10 is fine).

  • T Machmer Says:

    Incredibly grateful for the simple instructions.

    23 gigs recovered.

    What can we do to help your site?
    The usual social media stuff?

  • Alain Says:

    Rob, why would you need to if you have a better OS? ;-)

  • Rob Says:

    Yes, but how do I back the space Windows 10 is taking up when I rollback to a better OS?

  • Guy Says:

    Well then, 145GB deleted :)

  • ElmoGagootz Says:

    Gained over 21GB, AWESOME!!!

  • nonW00t Says:

    Works!

    (as long as you don't hit Cancel, Dan. :)

  • Dan Says:

    Still seems to not be really deleting it all. Seems to still come up at the same amount of GB's when searching for the files again. Suggestions?

  • Shaun Says:

    6. Check “PREVIOUS Windows installation(s)”

    not

    6. Check “Previews Windows installation(s)”

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