How to Delete Windows.old Folder

Updated to Data Erasure Tips by Amy on Jul 13, 2022 | Approved by Cesar C

Is it possible to permanently delete the Windows.old folder from your computer? Can you delete Windows.old files? To answer these questions, let’s start by understanding what Windows.old is.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. What is Windows.old?
Part 2: Why Windows.old folder cannot be deleted manually
Part 3: How to Deleted Windows.old in Other Ways
Part 4: Tips: Backup Windows.old to an external hard drive

Part 1. What is Windows.old?

Windows.old is created when you upgrade from an old version of Windows to a new version of windows. It’s stored in a folder identified as windows.old in the system file or local disk C. Let's say you want to upgrade from Windows 7/8/8.1 to Windows 10.

In this case, Windows will create a folder to store the previous operating system. The folder contains Windows system files, user account settings, among other files and folders.

You need to delete this folder as it takes up too much space in your local drive.  Before you delete this folder, make sure you create a backup first. You may be wondering whether it’s safe to delete this folder. It’s safe to delete the Windows.old folder. It saves you disc space on your PC.

There are different ways of deleting the Windows.old folder. You can do it manually, using disc cleanup, or by writing a set of commands using MD. Let's have a look at how you can safely delete the Windows.old folder.

How to delete Windows.old folder manually

Deleting the Windows.old folder is not difficult. As earlier stated, this folder is stored in Local Disc C. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can get rid of this folder.

  1. Double click on the My Computer shortcut from your computer. Click on Local Disc C to view the folders in this location. Scroll down to the folder identified as Windows.old and select it.
  2. Select and click the ‘Delete’ key from your computer.
  3. There is a pop up that appears asking you for administrative rights to proceed with the delete. Click on continue to proceed.
  4. Your computer will then calculate the size of the folder. There will be another pop up with an access denied message. You need to have ‘SYSTEM’ rights to proceed.

Part 2: Why Windows.old folder cannot be deleted manually

Reasons why you cannot delete the Windows.old folder manually are:

1. The windows.old folder may have been removed by Windows

Windows is designed to delete the old windows folder automatically after a period of time. For instance, Windows 10 will automatically delete the Windows.old folder 30 days after the upgrade. If you’re trying to delete this folder after 30 days, the previous window may have been deleted from your computer.

2. You do not have the system rights to delete the folder

This is a major reason why you cannot delete the Windows.old folder. You need to be the computer administrator to proceed. But, even if you have administrative rights, you may not proceed with delete without the rights of the administrative systems.

Here’s how you can change the administrative rights to complete the delete process:

  1. Right-click Windows.old folder and scroll down to properties. From the properties tab, click on security then advanced. Click OK to open.
  2. From the owner section, click on change then OK.
  3. Next is the select user or Group Window. In the object name section, type ‘administrators’ then click on check names. Once the name has been approved, click OK to close the window. Click on apply in the advanced security settings for windows.old folder.
  4. Click on the security and click the edit button. Under permissions, click to select the allow full control, then click apply. Finally, click OK to close permissions for the Windows.old folder window.
  5. Go back to Local Disc C and right-click windows.old folder to delete it.

If you do not want to follow the long process, use CMD or disk cleanup to delete Windows.old folder. Let’s have a detailed look at how you can use these methods.

Part 3: How to Deleted Windows.old in Other Ways

How to delete Windows.old folder with CMD

CMD or Command Prompt allows you to enter instructions into your computer using a set of commands. This is one of the commonly used methods of deleting an old windows folder. Here’s a step-by-step guide to delete windows.old folder using command prompt (CMD):

  1. Click on the search area on your computer and type Command Prompt. You can also use keyboard shortcuts by pressing the Windows and R keys (win+R). In the dialog box that appears, type in cmd and press Enter.
  2. Run CMD as the administrator. To do this, press the ctrl+shift+enter keys on your keyboard. Or, while on the search bar, right-click on Command prompt and select run as administrator.
  3. Copy the following command and paste it in the command prompt to delete Windows.old folder. RD /S /Q %SystemDrive%\windows.old and press Enter. (RD is an abbreviation of remove directory)

Restart your computer to refresh and save changes. And that’s it when using command prompt or cmd. The windows.old folder is automatically removed. If this method does not work for you, try using disc clean up.

How to delete Windows.old folder using Disk Cleanup

Windows disk cleanup allows users to delete files that are no longer necessary. Here’s a step-by-step guide to using computer disk cleanup:

  1. Double click on the My PC shortcut on your desktop or press Windows + E keys (Win+E) on your keyboard.
  2. Right-click on drive C and click on Properties to open. This feature is at the bottom of the dialog box.
  3. From the General tab, click on disk cleanup. Disk Cleanup will calculate the space in your computer before a dialog box pops up. Click on clean up system files and then press OK.
  4. From the disk cleanup tab, check/ click to select the Previous Windows Installation box. Finally, click the OK button.
  5. As a safety measure, disk cleanup will ask you to confirm the process. Click delete files and restart your computer once the clean up is done.

And there you have it. That’s how you can delete the windows.old folder from your computer using disk cleanup. Let’s have a look at how you can store a backup copy of the windows.old folder using an external drive.

Part 4 Tips: Backup Windows.old to an external hard drive

Having a backup copy of your previous Windows is very important. Here are the reasons why:

Besides using a hard drive or USB drive to store your backup, you can also use software to maximize data security. One of the software’s to use is iBeesoft DBackup software.

The free drive clone software increases the backup security of your files, partitions, disks, and the operating system in general. In case of system failure, you can quickly and easily restore your files or an operating system from the backup.

With the iBeesoft DBackup, all-in-one drive, you can back up everything that matters to you. In case of a system failure or Windows crash, you can run the backup to restore everything automatically. Don't worry, if you don't back it up, you can still use iBeesoft Data Recovery to retrieve the lost files.