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Solved: Can't Remove Windows.old Folder in Windows 11/10

Windows.old folder is taking too much space but you cannot remove Windows.old folder in Windows 11/10? Professional solutions are available here for you to properly remove, delete or clean up the Windows.old folder from Windows 11/10 with ease.

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Page Table of Contents

Updated by

Tracy King

Written by


Updated on Apr 22, 2024

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
1. Use Disk Cleanup Step 1. Press Windows + E, click This PC...Full steps
2. Temporary File Settings Step 1. Open Settings by typing settings in the Search, then click on it...Full steps
3. Storage Sense Settings Step 1. Open Settings by right-clicking the Windows icon and select "Settings"...Full steps

Something You Need to Know About Windows.old Folder

Before you start deleting Windows.old folder on your PC, here is something that we think you should know about this folder.

What Is Windows.old? 

Windows.old folder is generated by the Windows operating system when you upgrade from one version of Windows to another. The Windows.old folder isn't something new with Windows 10, which starts with Windows Vista.

The Windows.old folder contains all the files and data from your previous Windows installation, including Windows system files, user accounts' settings, User Profile, and User Folder files, etc.

You can apply it to restore Windows to the previous version if you don't like the new version. You can also dig into the Windows.old folder to find a specific file that wasn't properly copied to your new Windows installation. 

Where is the Windows.old Folder? 

So you may wonder where is the Windows.old folder saved on the computer and how to delete it right? Usually, Windows.old folder is saved in C: drive under the Windows folder after Windows system upgrade as shown below:

Location of Windows.old

It takes up a huge space as nearly the same size as your C: drive before the Windows upgrade. This explains why so many people notice that their C drive gets full quickly after a Windows update.

Is It Safe to Delete Windows.old Folder?

So is it safe to delete the Windows.old folder? Yes. If you decide to stay with the new Windows system and all your files are safe on the new OS, you can delete it from your PC so as to free up the disk space.

Why Can't I Remove Windows.old Folder?

According to the Microsoft Windows forum and some tech forums, users complain that they can't remove Windows.old folder as Windows reports that the file not found or target is not a valid file or directory. 

Why is that? Here are two main reasons that explain why you can't delete Windows.old folder directly from your C: drive:

1. The Windows.old folder has been removed by Windows OS

In order to save disk space, Windows Operating System is designed to delete the Windows.old folder automatically after you upgrade:

  • On Windows 10, Windows.old folder gets deleted automatically in 10 days after Windows upgrade.
  • On Windows 8.1/8, Windows.old gets deleted automatically in 28 days after Windows upgrade.
  • On Windows 7 and older OS, Windows.old will be removed automatically in 30 days after OS update.

2. Delete Windows.old needs administrator permission

Although Windows.old folder is accessible for you to check and view the saved files. But it requires administrator permission from the System to make changes to this folder. Therefore, if you don't have permission, you can't directly delete Windows.old from C: drive.

How to Delete Windows.old Folder - 3 Methods

Applies to: Resolve "Can't delete Windows.old folder" issue with three effective methods, no data loss.

Before You Start - Preparations

#1. Create Backup of Windows.old Folder

Before taking the steps below to delete the Windows.old folder, you can create a backup of the Windows.old in case that you may want to perform a system restore or restore a single file from the folder.

You can either copy Windows.old folder to an external hard drive or to back Windows.old folder with EaseUS free backup software in only three simple steps as listed below:

  • Launch EaseUS Todo Backup Free, then choose" File Backup".
  • Choose the important files/data or system and then select a backup destination.
  • Click "Proceed" to start the backup process.

#2. Gain Administrator Permission from System

The other important thing to make sure that you can delete Windows.old folder successfully is to check whether you are logging in to Windows OS as administrator.

If you have several user accounts on your computer, switch to login your computer with your administrator account:

Step 1. Click the Windows icon and click your username at the top.

Step 2. Select Administrator on the list, click to switch to it.

Switch user account to find missing files.

Step 3. Sign in with the password of your administrator account.

Method 1. Delete Windows.old Folder in Windows 11/10 Using Use Disk Cleanup

Windows.old folder cannot just directly delete by hitting the delete key and you may try to use the Disk Cleanup tool in Windows to remove this folder from your PC:

  • Press Windows + E, click This PC.
  • Right-click the drive with Windows installation and click Properties.
  • Click Disk Cleanup and select Clean up the system.
  • Select the Previous Windows Installation(s) option to delete Windows.old folder.
  • You can also choose to delete other installation files including Windows upgrade log files and Temporary Windows installation files etc.
  • Click OK and select Delete Files on the pop-up dialog to confirm the deletion.
  • Click Yes.

Remove Windows.old using Disk Cleanup

Method 2. Delete Windows.old Folder in Windows 10 Using Temporary File Settings

The other method that you can try is to use Windows Temporary File Settings to remove the Windows.old folder on your PC. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Open Settings by typing settings in the Search, then click on it.

Step 2. Select System > Storage > This PC and then scroll down the list and choose Temporary files.

Step 3. Under Remove temporary files, check Previous Windows Installation then choose to "Remove files".

Remove Windows.old using Temporary file settings

Then Windows.old folder will be deleted in Windows 10 without any obstacles. 

Method 3. Delete Windows.old Folder in Windows 10 Using Storage Sense Settings

Windows 10 Storage Sense settings can also help you remove Windows.old folder on your PC. Follow the steps to delete it now:

Step 1. Open Settings by right-clicking the Windows icon and select "Settings".

Step 2. Go to System, click "Storage", then click "Change how we free up space automatically" under Storage Sense.

Open storage sense

Step 3. Check "Delete the previous version of Windows" and click "Clean now".

Remove Windows.old using Storage sense

Once you complete the steps, the Windows.old folder will no longer exist on your computer.

Here is a quick tutorial that has SOLVED 'can't delete Windows.old' error in Windows 10. Scroll down to check the #complete solutions# with detailed guidelines.

Video source: YouTube; Created by Sele Training.

2 Bonus Tips: Extend System Drive After Deleting Windows.old

Besides deleting Windows.old folder using the above 3 methods, you can also try other methods to extend system C drive space. If this is what you want, try the following 2 quick tips to gain space and extend your C drive immediately:

#1. Extend C Drive using Free Partition Manager Software

Free partition manager software provided by EaseUS software can efficiently extend the system C drive with its Resize/Move feature. 

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Here are the steps:

Step 1: Free up unallocated space for C drive.

If there is no unallocated space on the system disk, go to Partition Manager and right-click on a partition next to the C: drive and select "Resize/Move".
Drag left panel of the partition to shrink and leave unallocated space behind the system C: drive and click "OK".

Step 2: Increase C drive space.

1. Right-click on C: drive and select "Resize/Move".

Extend System partition

2. Drag the system partition end into unallocated space so to add space to C: drive and click "OK".

Add space to C drive

Step 3: Keep all changes to extend C: drive.

Click the "Execute Task" and click "Apply" to keep all changes so to extend the system C: drive.

Confirm to extend system C drive

#2. Clean Up Large File on System Drive 

Step 1. Download and install EaseUS Partition Master Suite.

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download and install CleanGenius

Step 2. Click PC Cleaner and install EaseUS CleanGinus. Then, click "Cleanup" and click "Scan" to start cleaning up the system and make your PC as good as new.

system cleanup step 1

Step 3. The software will scanning all over your computer to find idle data files that take a huge amount of disk space, you can select useless large files, system junk files and Windows invalid entries and click "Clean" to start system cleanup process.

system cleanup step 2

Step 4. When the scan is complete, click "Done" to finish cleaning system junk files.

system cleanup step 3

If this passage solves the "cannot remove Windows.old folder in Windows 11/10" error, you can share it to help more people in need!


Conclusion and Windows.old FAQS

On this page, we explained what is Windows.old folder, what you can do with Windows.old folder, the default location of this folder, and offered three practical methods to help you fix "can't remove Windows.old folder" issue on Windows 10.

These methods also can be applied to delete this folder on other older Windows operating systems, like Windows 8.1/8/7, etc. Here, we also collected some top concerned questions and left brief answers to help you out. If you are having the same concerns, check and find the answers:

1. How do I manually delete Windows.old?

Based on the provided methods on this page, you will need to first log in to your computer as an administrator.

And then you can use Windows Temporary file settings, Windows disk cleanup, or Windows Storage Sense settings to manually delete Windows.old folder from your computer. For a detailed guide, refer to the detailed steps listed in Method 1, Method 2, and Method 3. 

2. How do I restore system from Windows.old?

To restore system from the Windows.old folder, you can navigate to Settings > Update & security > Recovery. Then click "Get started" under "Go back to Windows 7" or "Go back to Windows8.1".

Note that this option is only available for 10 days or 1 month after you upgrade.

3. How do I restore files from Windows.old?

There are three ways to get back the Windows.old folder. You can manually or automatically recover the Windows.old folder. Or restore files from Windows.old folder using EaseUS file recovery software in just three steps.

For a detailed guide,  you may refer to Windows.old Restore for a guide.

4. Will deleting Windows.old cause problems?

Usually, deleting Windows.old folder or files on your computer will not do any damage on your PC.

But if the Windows update failed to keep all your files or you lost files after the Windows update, you can try to bring the lost files from your Windows old by rolling back to the previous version of Windows.

How Can We Help You

About the Author

Updated by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

Read full bio

Written by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech lives easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. In her spare time, she loves sharing things about her game experience on Facebook or Twitter.

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