How To Remove Windows.old When Disk Cleanup Not Showing Previous Windows Installations

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In Windows 10 Preview, every time when upgrading to a new build release, Windows will automatically keeps a backup of its existing OS prior upgrade so when things go wrong with the installation you can always have the option to rollback to the previous release. The backup is stored under Windows.old folder of your root Windows OS partition. While this is a welcome feature by Microsoft, you are also losing disk space ranging from a few GB to 25GB, which could be very precious on a Tablet like Surface or a SSD drive.

To remove the Windows.old directory you need to go to Disk Cleanup and remove it from there by selecting “Previous Windows Installations”. But for some reasons in Windows 10 (technical preview), the first time when you go to Disk Cleanup this option is nowhere to be found.

Guide To Remove Windows.old on Windows 10

As you can see my Windows.old directory uses 15.2GB of actual space on my hard drive. It’s not safe to simply delete the folder from there, and most likely you will not be allowed to complete this deletion. The proper way to remove this directory is through “Disk Cleanup”, a built-in utility from Windows that manages any system file deletion.

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Right-click your C: drive, go to Properties > Disk Cleanup

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As you can see from the screenshot below, I was puzzled that why there are so few options available in the Disk Cleanup utility. Clearly the “Files to delete” section doesn’t contain the option for previous Windows installations.

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But that’s OK. Just click “Clean up system files” anyway, which will run through the disk cleanup scan process again. Once that’s finished, you will see more options available to choose, one of which is the ability to remove “Previous Windows installations”.

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Select the Files to delete

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A warning will prompt when removing previous Windows installations, you are going to be informed that

If you clean up the previous Windows installations or temporary installation files, you will no longer be able to restore the machine back to the previous version of Windows. Are you sure that you want to do this?

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Click Yes to acknowledge this warning and proceed.

Once the process is finished, you will gain all the valuable space back! Hope this helps you when navigating around the new Windows 10.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I still don’t have this option. I know I already did it in the past a long time ago, but now nothing is showing up anymore…

  2. to be honest it never even prompted me when it deleted the old file but this helped me so much and I hope it helps people one day as well.

  3. I dont have the option is Disk Cleanup to remove previous windows installations and still have a Windows.Old folder eating a nice chunk of my 128gb ssd.

  4. it worked perfect. for those whose previous windows installments is not appearing after cleaning 2 or 3 times it will appear.if it does not appear it means you have deleted some of the important content,,,,,,,,Worst case scenario-format c drive and install a new copy of windows and backup all imp files

  5. I’ve been through several guides like this, and NONE of them mentioned the following part:

    “But that’s OK. Just click “Clean up system files” anyway, which will run through the disk cleanup scan process again. Once that’s finished, you will see more options available to choose, one of which is the ability to remove “Previous Windows installations”.

    That alone saved my bacon. I’m so glad to have the precious space back on my laptop’s 128GB SSD. Thanks, Jonathan! 😀

  6. Thanks for this hint. Worked exactly as described!

    I had just got a brand new Lenovo Yoga 720.
    And when I unboxed it and booted it the first time it ran through a long series of updates.
    The result of this was a C:\Windows.old\ directory.
    As I anyhow never used the old system before, I had no reason to keep it.

    Thanks to your hint I now have 23 GB more available.

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