How to Revert to Previous Builds in Windows 10

After updating Windows, you have ten days to revert to the last build of Windows 10 installed on your PC. Once that ten-day window expires, you’ll no longer be able to revert to a previous build. It was once thirty days, but a recent update quietly shortened the time span.

The “build” here is not by an individual build number but the larger “versions” of Windows 10. For example, rolling back the Creators Update (Version 1703) will land you back at the Anniversary Update (Version 1607). And if your last version of Windows wasn’t Windows 10 (if you just upgraded from Windows 8.1, for example), you’ll be rolled back to the last installed version of Windows.

Getting Ready to Revert to Previous Builds in Windows 10

1. Make a backup! At the very least, back up your personal files. You shouldn’t lose personal data, but that’s cold comfort if something goes wrong. It always pays to have the most complete backup you can. In addition to backing up your files, make a system image with Windows Backup just in case everything goes sideways.

2. If you’re running a laptop, make sure that it’s plugged into a power outlet.

3. Make sure the “C:\Windows.old” directory is on your computer. It’s a large directory, so if you deleted it to save space, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.

Revert to Previous Builds in Windows 10

Once you’ve made your backups, you can revert to previous builds of Windows 10 through the Settings menu.

1. Open “Settings” from the Start Menu.


2. Click “Recovery” in the sidebar.


3. Under “Go back to the previous version of Windows 10,” click “Get Started.” If you don’t see this option, either you don’t have a “C:\Windows.old” directory, or it’s been more than ten days since you updated.


4. You’ll see a message that says “This won’t take long.” Wait a few seconds for this message to disappear.


5. Choose one of the boxes to describe why you’re rolling back your update. If you’d rather not say, you can just tick “For another reason” and fill the box with gibberish. Click “Next” after you’ve made your selection.


6. A dialog will ask you to “Check for updates.” Click “No, thanks” to proceed or “Check for updates” to see if a recent update to this build of Windows 10 will solve your problems.


7. The next dialog box will provide some warnings. Make sure you read and understand them and you’ve complied with all the recommendations (especially regarding backups!) before clicking “Next.” You’re about to go back in time to before you updated Windows, so you’ll lose any system settings you’ve changed or applications you’ve installed since then.


8. One more warning dialog box: make sure you know your username and password. If you’ve changed it recently, make sure you know the old one. You’re essentially travelling back in time, so if you’ve changed your password in the last ten days, you’ll need the old one to log in.


9. Click “Go back to earlier build” to start the reversion process.


10. Your computer will now restart to begin the recovery process. Sit tight – it might take a little while.

Alternative Method: Advanced Startup

You can also use Windows 10’s Advanced Startup tool to access the rollback menu.

1. Open “Settings” from the Start Menu.

2. Click “Recovery” in the sidebar.

3. Click “Restart Now” under “Advanced Startup.”


4. After your computer reboots, click “Troubleshoot.”


5. Next, click “Advanced Options.”


6. Finally, click “Go back to the previous build.”


7. In the next window click “Go back to the previous build” again.


If you’ve updated to the most recent Windows 10 build in the last ten days, you can roll back to the previous build using either of the above options.

Alexander Fox
Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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