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.
Right-click your C: drive, go to Properties > Disk Cleanup
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.
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”.
Select the Files to delete
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?
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.
/Update on Mar. 10, 2020/
You can clean up previous Windows installations from the Settings app as well now.
Go to Settings > System > Storage and click Temporary Files.
If there is a Windows.old folder you will see an option called Previous Installed Windows that you can check to clean it up.
Thanks, that was just the information I was looking for: “Why was there no option to remove ‘windows.old’ in ‘Disk Cleanup’? Reclaiming >20 GB now …
But sometimes that fails to delete ALL files and folders in Windows.old Right now I’m working on a laptop with Windows 10 Home and it’s holding on tight to IntcDAud.sys in two locations under Windows.old. Disk cleanup got rid of everything else.
I’ve tried Unlocker but it can’t delete the files and Windows is ignoring its setting to delete them during boot.
Yet another flub by Microsoft with Windows 10 (the big one was all the problems with failures to connect to networks that wasn’t fixed for almost a year). Everything that gets stuffed into Windows.old should have all protective permissions removed so that Disk cleanup can delete the files.
The title states How To Remove Windows.old When Disk Cleanup Not Showing Previous Windows Installations but it DOES show indeed that what you used so you lied.
Well, it does clean up the Windows.old folder, doesn’t it? So as long as it does what it says, it’s not a false statement. 🙂
But it wont delete when it wont show up in Disk Cleaner. Even after you press [Clean up system files]
First, Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) doesn’t list Previous Windows installation if you’re not running it as administrator. To elevate it, click the option Clean up system files button in the Disk Cleanup window. Or simply run it as administrator from Start menu.
What if previous windows still does not show after going through all of that? I did all of the above (several times) and it still does not show Previous Windows installtion.
I’ve added some more info to the post. Hope it helps.
Previous Windows installations not showing up for me no matter how many times I click ‘Clean up System files’
Thanks. Just what I needed.
Thanks! I was searching for disc cleaner does not recognize windows.old, thank you your manual was exactly what I was looking for although it was so simple to just click Clean up system files
Thanks alot. Very useful
Thanks for the walk-thru..just what I needed.
Thanks was having same issue.
Comment: Thanks I being changing OS thinking that I will delete windows old… but now I just did Thanks …..
Awesome help, you’re the best for this…
Thanks for the article. Really clear and helpful.
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…
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.
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.
Hi, Thank you for the tips, but I don’t have this options (It is a French Version)
This worked perfect! Thanks so much for posting this!
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
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! 😀
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.
The option still isn’t showing. windows.old contains 25GB!
Thank you so much. Never needed to do this before but my newest laptop has a small SSD and that last update pushed up my used space to the point i got a message each morning )
but what if disk cleanup doesnt show the previous installation? even when following these instructions its still not showing up
That does not work under the current Build
For current Windows 10 build, it’s way easier removing previous installations. Open Settings app, go to System > Storage, click Temporary files and you will see the option to remove the previous build installs.
Thanks, this actually worked, getting rid of my windows.old after upgrading from Windows 7 premium to Professional.