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What is Windows.old folder and how to delete it safely

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Last week my one of colleagues at my office moved to Windows 7 from Windows Vista after hearing good feedback about Windows 7. After installation of Windows 7 he asked me what the  Windows.old folder is that is taking up more than 6 GB of his hard drive. Specifically, he wanted to know if he could delete the Windows.old folder.

What is Windows.old folder: Windows.old is a folder created by Windows when you choose custom installation. This folder contains the files, folders and drivers from previous windows version. See Andre’s tutorial on custom installation. The one major benefits of windows.old folder is that you can restore windows to previous version of windows Installation anytime. Please see Microsoft’s guide to restore to previous version of windows Installation. One important thing about Windows.old is that you will get this folder only when you choose custom installation without formatting hard drive and install windows 7 on same drive where previous version of window is installed.

Please note that Custom installation is different from upgrade installation. So if you upgrade your operating System there is chance that you won’t get the windows.old folder. See Andre’s tutorial about upgrading to windows 7 ‘how to upgrade to windows 7‘.

Deleting Windows.old folder: If you have decided that you want to keep the new version and delete the windows.old folder to free up space. First make sure that you copy all the folders and files that you want from this folder. Once it is deleted they can’t be retrieved.  There are two ways to delete the windows.old folder. First you can directly select the folder Windows.old and delete it but the safest way to delete is from ‘disk cleanup windows utility’. Follow below steps to delete windows.old from your computer with disk cleanup utility.

Step1: Type ‘Disk Cleanup’ at start search menu. See screenshot below.

windows.old-1

Step2: Select the drive where windows.old file exist and press OK. See Screenshot below.

windows.old-2

Step3:  Disk Cleanup will automatically find the windows.old folder in the drive and will give you option to select folders for delete purpose.

windows.old-3

Step4: After selecting the windows.old folder press OK. It will ask the permission that you want to delete the file permanently.

windows.old-5

Step5: After pressing the ‘Delete files’ button windows.old folder will be gone from your drive.

13 Comments

  1. Slamat

    January 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    To delete Windows.old folder? Don't do it! If you keep it, you can reanimate your Windows XP including all applications working and data. There is a software which do it – it's called “Z Install” or something like that. I don't remember exactly its website, but if you Google for “Migrate Windows XP to Windows 7″ their link was there.

  2. Slamat

    January 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    To delete Windows.old folder? Don't do it! If you keep it, you can reanimate your Windows XP including all applications working and data. There is a software which do it – it's called “Z Install” or something like that. I don't remember exactly its website, but if you Google for “Migrate Windows XP to Windows 7″ their link was there.

  3. Mark

    April 27, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I want to check the windows.old file before I delete it, but I can not find it. Is it hidden? If so how do I unhide it?

  4. Azminday

    June 25, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks, Mine took up 13Gb

  5. Dacx17

    July 1, 2010 at 7:39 am

    what if u have a .old file but the disk cleanup wont find it?? then what?

  6. Jcharger16

    August 4, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Thanks mines took up a heavy 119 GB, thank goodness that chunk is out.

  7. t3ch

    September 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    After the scan, on the next window, where it gives you the options to select the files, click the “clean up system files” on the bottom right corner. This will scan again and then you will see windows old or previous window version option.

  8. SC

    November 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    “To delete Windows.old folder? Don’t do it! ”

    I would recommend deleting it and also windows 7 at the same time and install Linux :)

  9. Anton

    November 29, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Thanks mine was taking up 44 gb

  10. gfstereokiller

    April 9, 2011 at 6:16 am

    mine took up 32GB

  11. Filled Up

    April 14, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Now I don’t have to buy a new hard drive.

  12. teod0rp

    August 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

    If i delete i would have any problems with my computer right

  13. Jerry hanson

    October 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    i am deleting my window old folder right now it it has in it 39.6GB. does anyone know how long it takes to do this?/ i am going on 3 hours now.

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