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

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.

Jonathan Hu

Programming by day, Web Development, Canucks & Movies for spare time!
Co-founder of Next of Windows and a cool geek 🙂

Last updated: 04/24/2015

Posted in: How to , Windows 10
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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… Read more »

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.

Kent Chen

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. 🙂

Steve Cocoris-Nguyen

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.


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

Human Najafpoor

Thanks alot. Very useful


Thanks for the walk-thru..just what I needed.