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Windows will save a Windows.old folder after an upgrade or refresh if you choose to “keep nothing” during the process. It is a backup mechanism to help you restore data and settings from the previous installation.

However, this folder can take up to 30 GB of space. So, it’s better to remove it if you need free space or don’t need any backup.

As per Microsoft, your system will automatically delete this folder after ten days. If you want to remove it manually before the 10-day limit, you must execute some simple steps.

How to Delete Windows.old

Here are some different ways to delete Windows.old folder. Pick anyone according to your preference. However, first, make sure to log in as an administrator.

Disk Cleanup

Using Disk Cleanup is the easiest and quickest method to delete the Windows.old folder. Here’s how you can do so:

  1. Open Run with Win + R.
  2. Type cleanmgr and press Enter.
  3. Set your boot drive (usually C:) in the drop-down list and click Ok.
  4. Click Clean up system files and select the boot drive again.
  5. Check Previous Windows Installation.
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  6. Uncheck any other options you don’t wish to remove.
  7. Click Ok.
  8. Choose Delete Files to confirm.

Using Storage Settings

The Storage Setting in Windows also offers a way to delete the Windows.old folder. Here are the steps for this method:

  1. Press Win + I to launch Settings.
  2. Go to System and then Storage.
  3. Click Temporary files.
  4. Check Previous version of Windows and choose Remove files.
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You can delete the folder through Storage Sense Settings as well. To do so,

  1. Click on Configure Storage Sense or run it now on the Storage Settings
  2. Check Delete previous versions of Windows under Free up space now.
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  3. Click Clean now.

Delete Manually From the File Explorer

Navigate to Windows.old folder in your boot drive and delete it manually. If you can’t delete it, you need to take ownership of the folder through its security properties. Here’s how you can do so:

  1. Right-click on Windows.old and select Properties.
  2. Go to the Security tab and click Advanced.
  3. Click Change.
  4. Hit Advanced and then Find Now.
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  5. Select your account along with Administrators from the list and click Ok.
  6. Hit Ok again.
  7. Tick Replace owner on subcontainers and objects and select Apply.
  8. Click Add and then Select a principal.
  9. Perform the same actions as steps 5-7.
  10. Tick Full control and click Ok thrice in a row.
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Now you can delete Windows.old from the file explorer.

Take Ownership and Delete With Command Prompt

Using the GUI takes too many steps, so it’s better to use the command-line interface for more simplicity. If you’re unable to directly delete the Windows.old folder, follow the steps below to use the CLI to take ownership and delete it:

  1. Type cmd and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to load the elevated Command Prompt.
  2. Enter the following commands:
takeown /f %SystemDrive%windows.old /a /r /d y icacls %SystemDrive%windows.old /t /grant :r administrators:F rmdir %SystemDrive%windows.old /s /q

You can also copy these commands to a text editor and save as a .bat file. Then, simply running the batch script is enough to delete the Windows.old folder for every system.

Related Questions

Does Deleting Windows.old Remove All Previous Installation Files?

No, your system also saves some previous installation files in $Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS directories. They are hidden folders, and using Disk Cleanup or cleaning from storage settings will also remove them.

If you are using the other two methods, you need to execute the same steps to remove these folders. Don’t forget to replace the folder name while using Command Prompt.

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