If you’ve ever had to upgrade your version of Windows on your PC, then you’re probably familiar with the Windows.old file that is left behind on your hard drive. Earlier, I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Right away, I noticed that my 1TB hard drive was almost filled up, and I didn’t understand why.
It is only later that I finally figured out that the Windows.old folder, along with many other files from the previous Windows installation, was taking up a huge chunk of my hard drive. After upgrading to the full version of Windows 8, I tried to delete the Windows.old folder manually, but Windows kept denying me access – even after changing ownership of the file to myself.
If you are having this issue as well, here’s how you can delete the previous Windows installations.
1. Head on over to the Windows Start page (press the Window key) and search for “disk cleaner” or “disk cleanup.”
2. Select Settings underneath the search box.
3. In the results, choose the option that says “Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files.” This will bring up the Disk Cleanup utility.
4. Select the drive that you want to clean; this should be the drive where the Windows.old file is located.
5. Disk cleanup will do an initial scan, but it won’t find your previous Windows installation files. Once the scan is complete, select “Clean up system files” from the window.
6. Select the drive that you want to clean again – the same drive you selected the first time. This time, the scan will take a bit longer than it did the first time.
7. Now you should see “Previous Windows installation(s)” in the files to delete list. As you can see from the screenshot below, it was taking up 734GB on my hard drive – that’s a huge amount of space!
8. Select the “Previous Windows installation(s)” option along with other files that you want to delete. You can also safely remove the “Temporary Windows installation files” in the list. Click on the “OK” button.
9. You’ll need to verify that you do want to permanently delete these files. Click on the “Delete Files” button.
10. Now just wait for the Disk Cleanup utility to finish and you’ll be all set. Note that if you have a huge amount of files to delete, this could take some time, so plan your coffee session ahead.
Once the folder is deleted, you should have a lighter computer (in term of storage size, not the weight) – I know mine is!
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