Windows.old: What is it? How can I delete it?

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If you are running out of space on your hard drive and you find a folder called windows.old but you don’t know where it came from, you are reading the perfect article. Windows.old is the name of the folder that Windows create when you upgrade your system from an older version. It stores all the information that was in your disk prior the upgrade. Keep reading to learn everything about the windows.old folder.

What is Windows.old?windows old

When Windows Vista was launched, it came with a way to upgrade your system without formatting the disk, and putting all your data in the Windows.old folder. This folder is stored along with your new Windows installation and it has all the data that you had before the upgrade. This includes programs installed, configuration files, documents, music, video, and all the things that were in your windows partition.

Basically, all your old windows system is stored in the windows.old folder and you can use it to restore or downgrade to your previous installation.

How to downgrade your Windows to a previous version.

If you proceed to make the windows 10 installation and didn’t like it, you can go back easily if you take the decision to downgrade within a month of the installation. This is because your Windows.old folder will be deleted after a month of the system new installation.

To downgrade your windows 10 follow this steps:

  • Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery
  • The text “Go Back to Windows [insert your old version of Windows here]” will appear.
  • Click on the “Get Started” button bellow
  • Now the restoration process will begin and windows will install your old version using the Windows.old folder

And that’s it. Windows makes the downgrade process a lot easier than it was in older versions of windows, but remember that this process needs to be done within a month of the installation of windows 10, because you can’t do it after the system deletes the windows.old folder. The Microsoft Support page offers a guide step by step of how to restore other windows-based system using the windows.old folder, you should check that guide if you do not have windows 10.

I want to recover some files from the windows.old folder. How can I do that?

Recovering single o multiples files from the windows.old folder is really easy, just remember to do it right away after your upgrade or new installation. Just go to your disk’s partition where your windows.old folder is located and open it. Once inside, all of your documents, pictures, movies, videos, music and everything that was saved in your previous version is located inside the “User” folder.

Just search for your files navigating in each of the folders inside “User” and you will find them. Now you just need to copy or move your files. I recommend you to move it because it avoids unnecessary duplication of files, using more and more of your free space.

This folder is using so much space, can I delete windows.old?

Yes, you can, and there is an easy way to do it. The space used for this folder is one of the downsides of it. If you already move your files from it and are happy with your upgrade, it’s time for free space. You can delete the windows.old folder using the “Disk Cleanup” tool that comes with windows.

Click on your Start Button and search for the “Disk Cleanup” and click it. Select the drive where your windows.old folder is located in the popup window. When the scan is complete, another window will appears. Click on the “Clean up system files” at the bottom-left and choose again your drive with the .old folder.

Finally, when the scan is complete, a new window will pop up. Search for the checkbox labeled “Previous windows installations” or “Older versions of windows” and click ok.

And that’s it. You just removed the windows.old folder from your computer. Remember, in windows 10 this process is done automatically a month after your installation, and once removed you can’t go back to your previous system, so make sure you have all the files that you want from it.

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