What is the windows.old Folder and How to Properly Remove It

After a long wait, we finally received the Windows 10 Anniversary update with improved and new features like extensions to the Edge browser, improved action center, deeper Cortana integration, etc.

If you’ve installed the anniversary update, then you might have noticed a new folder named “windows.old” in the root of the C drive. In fact, every time you install a major update or when you upgrade your system from one version to another, you will see this folder.

Here is what the “windows.old” folder actually is and how to properly remove it.

The “window.old” folder is nothing new. It was introduced back in Windows Vista, and this folder is automatically created when you upgrade from one version of Windows to another, like from Windows 7 to 10 or when you install major updates like the Anniversary update. This folder contains all the necessary data, files, and other settings of the previous Windows installation. Since the folder houses all the essential files, it enables you to easily downgrade in case you don’t like the upgrade. Often you can even copy user data and other settings directly from the “windows.old” folder to your new installation.

As good as it is, depending on your user folder and installed programs, the “windows.old” folder can take a good chunk of your hard drive space. Often it is no less than 10GB.

remove windows old folder folder properties

If you are certain you will not downgrade, then removing this folder can get you back some much-needed C drive space.

Though the windows.old folder may look like any other folder, you cannot delete it directly using the Delete key on your keyboard. Instead, you need to use the Windows Disk Cleanup tool. Search for “Disk Cleanup” in the Start Menu and open it.

remove windows old folder select disk cleanup

Once the Disk Cleanup tool has been opened, select the C drive from the drop-down menu and click on the “OK” button.

remove windows old folder select drive

Windows will show you some files you can clean. Since the “windows.old” folder is a system folder, click on the “Clean up System Files” button appearing at the bottom of the window.

remove windows old folder click cleanup

The above action will start the scan for all the files that you can clean.

remove windows old folder scanning for files

Once the scan has been completed, Windows will list all the files you can delete. Here, select the option “Previous Windows Installation(s)” and click on the “OK” button. You can also select other options like temporary Windows installation files, retail demo offline content, temporary Internet files, Windows upgrade logs, Windows defender files, device driver packages, etc., to gain some extra space. As you can see, all the files I’ve selected amount to 24GB (nearly).

remove windows old folder total file size

The above action will open the confirmation window. Simply click on the “Delete Files” button to continue.

remove windows old folder click delete files

Again, Windows may show you a warning message regarding temporary Windows installation files and previous Windows installation files. Simply click on the “Yes” button to continue.

remove windows old folder click yes

This action will clean all the selected files, and you will gain back your hard disk space in no time.

remove windows old folder removing

Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about the windows.old folder and using the above method to remove it.

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