Windows.old cleanup

Anybody who’s upgraded from a previous version to Windows 10 or had to repair install Windows 10 has seen the Windows.old folder. Created when Windows 10 reinstalls, it’s not just the previous Windows folder but also every other folder from your previous install except your personal data folder – Program Files, Program Data, blah blah blah. Lotsa stuff, all shovelled into one redundant folder.

Not only is it huge, but also hard (read fkn near impossible) to remove. You’d think, really, that you could just delete this fat folder of full of useless shit. You can’t. Well, not by right-click / delete anyway. Just won’t do it. And instead of giving you the method described on this page, you’ll get an unintelligible error message about permissions or ownership or some such crap. Missed opportunity there, Microsoft. You could have been helpful to your userbase, instead you chose not to be.

If you do it the less obvious way, following the hidden Microsoft protocol, you’ll be clean & clear in just a few minutes. So here’s how to remove the Windows.old folder, according to Microsoft themselves.

Press Windows + E to open Windows Explorer. Select your C: drive & right-click on it, Properties – you’ll get this window pop up –

Windows.old cleanup

See the Disk Cleanup button there? Right-click that, Run as Administrator. Then this window pops up –

Windows.old cleanup

Keep reading, we’re not quite there yet. Now you gotta hit that Clean up system files button for this window to pop up –

Windows.old cleanup

And there, amongst all your options, will be Previous Windows installation(s) – amongst other removeable detritus – Windows upgrade log files & more. You may see the size of the Previous Windows installation(s) massively overstated – mine said 4TB (on my 1TB HDD). Don’t worry about it, just tick the option box then hit OK.

Not even Microsoft’s own tool gets to remove the gargantuan folder of junk files speedily, there’s some waiting to do before you’re actually clear. But having placed the order, the task will soon be completed & your hard drive’s spare capacity returned to you.

PS: You will lose the “Return to previous version” option in Windows Recovery Environment. And what?

Professionals – forget that restricted GUI nonsense.  Press Windows Key+X then A, then Y, and type this RD /S /Q C:Windows.old & press Enter.

RD = Remove Directory, /S switch deletes all subfolder and files & the /Q switch deletes folders/files without asking for confirmation.

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