Microsoft Windows users may come across the Windows.old folder on their PC sometimes. But some users don’t know what this folder contains; some of them don’t know whether it’s safe to delete or remove the Windows.old folder. MiniTool Solution offers this page to help people get to know more about the Windows.old folder.

What’s the function of Windows.old Windows 11? Can you delete Windows.old folder safely? What to do if you can’t delete Windows.old folder? How to recover data from Windows.old Windows 11? If you are interested in one or more of these topics, this page will be very helpful.

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What Is the Windows.old Folder

Some Windows users said they find a Windows.old folder in the File Explorer of their computer, but they don’t know what it is and they are wondering whether they can delete this folder or not. Now, let’s start with what is Windows.old.

The Windows.old folder will be created automatically on your computer every time when you upgrade your system to a new version of Windows (starting with Windows Vista).

Windows.old folder

What’s Contained in Windows.old

The Windows.old folder Windows 11 (Windows 10, or another system) saves a record of your previous version of Windows; all the files and data from the previous Windows installation will be kept there.

  • System files and folders
  • Installed programs and apps
  • Settings and data for all user accounts
  • All the things required for running your earlier system

In short, the Windows.old folder contains your old Windows system.

What’s the Function of Windows.old

The Windows.old folder is created for 2 reasons, basically: to protect your computer from system update failure and to allow users to roll back to previous system.

  • The Windows.old folder is one of the security protection mechanisms developed by Microsoft in case that the upgrade process goes wrong suddenly.
  • The system will use the Windows.old folder to undo changes on your PC whenever the new system installation is failed.
  • After the Windows upgrade is completed successfully, the Windows.old folder leaves users a chance to roll back to the previous system easily if they found any issues or they’re not satisfied with the new system.

To sum up, Windows.old offers an easy way to downgrade Windows 11 to 10.

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Is It Safe to Delete Windows.old Windows 11

If you search online, you’ll find that lots of users are not clear about whether to delete Windows.old Windows 11 or not; they are asking can I delete Windows.old Windows 11 or should I delete Windows.old after update to Windows 11. Some users even complained that they can’t delete Windows.old folder after upgrade to Windows 11. Let’s take a look at two of the real cases.

Can I Delete Windows.old

Can I Delete Windows 10 Files after Installing Windows 11?

I just download windows 11 developer preview from the windows insider program and i saw that the old windows 10 files were still in my laptop with the file name Windows.old. So would it be safe to delete all those files as those are taking about 20gb of space.- asked Mehul in the Windows 11 Forums

How to Fix When I Can’t Delete Windows.old

Windows 10: Can't delete Windows.old folder after upgrade to Windows 11 because some drivers in the...

As the title says, I've upgraded my new latptop to Windows 11 but I can't delete the Windows.old folder as there still drivers in use in the folder, they appear to be audio drivers, Radeon graphics drivers and some hp stuff. Any idea how I can move these and delete the folder?- said errrrrrrrrrm in the Windows 10 Forums

Should You Delete Windows.old

As mentioned earlier, Windows.old folder is offered to users as one of the recovery options to restore to the previous version of their systems. Microsoft creates the Windows.old folder for safety reasons, so it should be kept there on users’ PC.

However, many users are complaining about the same thing: the Windows.old folder takes much of the free space on hard disk (usually many gigabytes of system storage). This is very annoying especially when users are running out of disk space.

So, here's the conclusion.

  • If your disk has much free space left, you should keep the Windows old folder in case that you may need to roll back to the previous system due to issues occurred on the new system or because you’re not satisfied with it.
  • On the contrary, if your disk is going to run out of space and you desperately need to clean your device for getting more usable space, you should consider deleting the Windows.old folder. Several gigabytes of disk space will be released after doing so.
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About the security of deleting Windows.old folder on Windows 11:

Nor your device experience or the future updates won’t be affected without the Windows.old folder. You only need to know one thing: you’ll lose the option to restore to your previous system directly, so you should perform a clean installation of your desire version of Windows system if you want to roll back after deleting Windows.old.

As long as you can ensure that none of your needed files are contained in the Windows.old folder and you’re satisfied with the current system & don’t want to downgrade, you can go ahead to start Windows 11 remove Windows.old.

Tip: You’re advised to back up your system/drive or at least the important files regularly. In this way, you won’t need to worry about any system failures since you can easily install the earlier versions in an emergency. MiniTool ShadowMaker provides different backup solutions for you; it is worth a try.

What else to delete for getting more free space on disk Windows 11:

  • Windows temporary folder: it keeps files that a system only needs to exist temporarily while in use.
  • Hibernate file: sys is a file created by the OS (operating system) to keep the current state when computer goes into Hibernation Mode.
  • Downloaded program files: you should browse your programs and delete the ones you don’t really need anymore.
  • SoftwareDistribution folder: this folder stores the latest fixes & improvements and the files needed to install new updates to keep your device secure. It’s essential for Windows Update.
  • Offline Web pages: you browser may store the copies of some Web pages or parts of them within its cache so as to make it possible for users to view the content even without internet connection.
  • Downloads folder: all the files, installers, and other content downloaded from the internet will be placed there.
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How to Delete Windows old Folder in Windows 11

Will Windows.old Delete Itself in Windows 11

Yes, the Windows.old is almost totally deleted after 28 days.

Lots of Windows systems users are wondering whether the Windows.old folder will be kept in File Explorer forever unless they delete it manually. The answer is negative. To tell the truth, the Windows.old directory will be deleted automatically 4 weeks after your system has been updated successfully. Before that, it will stay on your disk to provide a quick option to roll back. But you can choose to delete the Windows old folder manually if you need more free space immediately, as mentioned earlier.

Well, the next question is how to delete Windows 11 update files.

You may find the Windows.old folder using 12GB, 20GB, or even more of your disk space. Can you delete it safely and what should you do? If you tried the regular ways to delete Windows.old from your PC, you’ll fail.

  • Open File Explorer -> navigate to the Windows.old folder -> select it -> press Delete (Shift + Delete) or right click on it & select Delete.
  • Open File Explorer -> navigate to the Windows.old folder -> drag this folder and drop it directly into the Recycle Bin.

You should know that Microsoft blocks the usual methods for removing Windows.old folder.

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#1. Delete Windows.old Using Disk Cleanup

How to delete Windows.old in Windows 11? You should run Disk Cleanup in 3 easy ways and then clear Previous Windows installation(s).

Before you do that, please backup the Windows.old folder using MiniTool ShadowMaker. Then, make sure you’re logging into the administrator account.

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Open Disk Cleanup Tool from File Explorer

  1. Press Windows + E or use other ways to open File Explorer on Windows 11.
  2. Select This PC from the left-side pane.
  3. Right click on the C: drive in the right-side pane and select Properties.
  4. Click on the Disk Cleanup button under the General tab.

Disk Cleanup File Explorer

How to fix the issue if your File Explorer is not responding on Windows 11?

Open Disk Cleanup from Run

  1. Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type cleanmgr.
  3. Click OK or press Enter.
  4. Select C: drive and click OK.

Run Disk Cleanup

Open Disk Cleanup from Start Menu

  1. Press Windows to open the Start menu.
  2. Type disk cleanup.
  3. Press Enter or click Disk Cleanup under Best match. Also, you can click Open under the Disk Cleanup app.

How to fix the issue if your Start menu is not working on Windows 11?

When the calculating process is finished, you should do these things:

  1. Select Previous Windows installation(s) under Files to delete.
  2. Click OK and select Delete Files from the pop-up window to confirm the deletion.
  3. Click Yes and wait.

This will delete the Windows.old folder for you. How to delete Windows.old without using the Disk Cleanup tool? Please keep reading.

#2. Delete Windows.old via Storage Sense

  1. Click the Windows icon on the taskbar and select Settings.
  2. Select System from the left-side pane.
  3. Look for Storage in the right-side pane and click on it.
  4. Locate the Storage management section.
  5. Toggle the switch of Storage Sense to On under this section if it's set to Off previously.
  6. Click Storage Sense to configure it.
  7. Check Keep Windows running smoothly by automatically cleaning up temporary system and app files under Cleanup of temporary files.
  8. You can also enable Automatic User content cleanup and configure cleanup schedules according to needs.

Storage Sense can also help you remove other unwanted files from your computer: thumbnails, error reports, cache files, and even empty your Recycle Bin.

Storage Sense

#3. Delete Windows.old from Temporary Files

  1. Open the Settings The easiest way is to press Windows + I.
  2. Select System tab from the left panel.
  3. Find and click Storage in the panel.
  4. Wait for a while until Windows calculates the storage under each category.
  5. Click on the Temporary files option and wait.
  6. Check Previous Windows installation(s) from the list.
  7. Click on the Remove files button and wait for the process to end.

Delete Previous Windows installation(s) from temporary files

Also, you can follow this to delete Windows.old:

  1. Go to Settings -> System -> Storage.
  2. Select Cleanup recommendations under Storage management.
  3. Check Previous Windows installation(s) and click on the Clean up button.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to continue and wait for the process to finish.

Can You Recover Deleted Windows.old Folder

What if you want the Windows.old folder back after deleting it? Is it possible to recover files or programs from Windows.old? In fact, it’s not a difficult task to recover deleted Windows.old folder.

How to Recover Files from Windows.old

Step 1: please select a powerful data recovery tool that works well on Windows 11. MiniTool Power Data Recovery is a good choice; let’s take it as an example.

Free Download

Step 2: please download the software to your disk (not save it to the system C: drive). Then, install it properly and click Start Now at the end of the installation.

Start Now

Step 3: keep the Logical Drives tab selected. Then, scan the C: drive by double clicking on it or selecting it & clicking Scan.

Scan system C: drive

Step 4: wait for the scan and browse the items the software has found on your device. Find Windows.old folder and check it. You can make use of the Find feature and type the correct File Name to find what you need quickly.

Scan for Windows.old folder

Step 5: click on the Save button in the bottom right corner and select a storage path. Then, click OK to confirm and wait until the Windows.old folder is recovered completely.

Congratulations! Your Windows.old folder is back. Please click here if you want to know details about recovering data from Windows.old.

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Final Words

At the beginning, this article introduces Windows.old Windows 11 to users (what it contains and its main functions). Then, it discusses whether it is safe to delete Windows.old and demonstrates different ways to delete Windows.old in Windows 11. Finally, it provides a useful tool and shows the method for restoring Windows.old with it.

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