What is Windows.old folder? What does it contain?
When you upgrade your Windows, say for example from Windows 7 to 10, a folder called Windows.old is created as part of the upgrade. In some cases, it may also be created during a major Windows update.
Windows.old folder basically contains all files from the previous Windows installation. It is a pretty large folder that takes up many Gigabytes of space. Inside the folder, you will find sub-folders such as Windows, Users, Program Files, and Recovery. This means the folder contains all your personal files and folders, Windows installation files, system files etc. from the previous OS.
With all the space that Windows.old occupies, you may be wondering if the folder is really useful. Read on to learn more about the uses of Windows.old.
- To revert to the previous Windows installation
If for some reason, you are not comfortable with the new Windows upgrade, you may want to roll back to the previous version. This will put your PC back to the OS prior to the upgrade. Please note that you only have a certain number of days to rollback. So if you want to roll back, make sure you do it within that time.
But before you proceed, consider making a full backup of your system just in case anything goes wrong during the process or if Windows.old does not work as expected.
Once you have a backup in place, you can proceed with the rollback process as follows. Go to Settings on your PC and click on Update & Security. In the menu on your left, click on the Recovery option. You will find a number of options in the Recovery section like Reset This PC, Advanced Startup and Go back to Windows (version).
Select Go back to Windows (version) and Microsoft will ask you the reason for rolling back. Once you answer the question, Microsoft will provide some updates if available to see if you want to reconsider rolling back. If you are not satisfied, confirm that you want to roll back and proceed.
Microsoft will list ‘The things you need to know’; click on Next and you will be reverted to your previous installation.
Please note you will need your old Windows password to login to your system.
- To recover files
Normally when you upgrade Windows, your applications, settings, and data should be automatically added to your new installation. However, if the update was paused midway or there was a problem during installation, things might get messy.
In such cases, if you need to recover files or folders, you know where to find it. It will be in Windows.old folder. If Windows.old folder doesn’t contain the file you are looking for, you may want to use data recovery tools such as Remo Recover to recover files and folders.
Delete Windows.old folder
Although Windows.old folder is useful at times, you may want to delete it if you are running low on storage space. You cannot delete using the usual ‘delete’ method, instead you will have to follow a special technique explained as follows.
- Click on Windows + E to open File Explorer and right click on C:
- Click on Properties > General tab
- Select Disk Cleanup > Clean up system files
- You will be shown a list of files to delete. Select ‘Previous Windows installations’ and this will delete the Windows.old folder for you.
After you delete Windows.old folder, all previous installation files will be gone, so make sure you are not going to need those files or even better to have a backup before you delete this folder.