How to Delete the Windows.old folder in Windows 7

So if you’re tried installing Windows 7 on your PC and it’s failed a couple of time due to various annoying reasons, you’ve probably come to realize that there is a large chunk of disk space being eaten up by a folder called Windows.old.

Windows.old is automatically generated whenever you perform an installation of Windows 7 with a previous version of the OS already installed. It created this Windows.old folder in the root of the Windows partition and stores the previous operating system and data.

In case you try to upgrade from Vista to 7 and it fails, you can always revert back to Windows Vista safely. The only issue with this is that every time the install fails, another copy of the previous OS is copied into Windows.old.

So if your Windows 7 install failed 2 or 3 times, that Windows.old folder can become very large very fast! On top of that, the folder is not automatically deleted once you are up and running with Windows 7, so you have to get rid of it yourself.

Note: Removing the Windows.old folder will result in your inability to be able to revert back to the previous OS installed. You will have to stick with Windows 7.

So how do you get rid of the folder? Well, you have to use the Disk Cleanup utility! Here’s how to go about it.

The first method will describe how to delete the Windows.old folder on Windows Vista. If you are in Windows 7, follow the second set of instructions.

Click on Start, then All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then Disk Cleanup. Make sure you right-click on Disk Cleanup and choose Run As Administrator.

delete windows.old

In the Disk Cleanup Options dialog, make sure to check the Files from all users on this computer box.

Then in the Disk Cleanup – Drive Selection dialog, click on the hard disk where the the Windows.old folder is and click OK. The system will then scan the drive for unnecessary files.

Click on the Disk Cleanup tab and look for a checkbox that says Previous Windows installations. Check it and click OK. Then click Delete Files when prompted.

Windows 7 Instructions

If you are in Windows 7 and want to delete the Windows.old folder, it’s a similar process, but not quite the same.

Again, open Disk Cleanup via the Start Menu and when the dialog pops up, choose the drive that has the .old files on it and click OK.

The system will perform a scan and another dialog will pop up with the selection. Now click on the button Cleanup system files at the bottom.

remove window.old folder

Now choose the drive again that has the .old files on it. The system will perform a second scan of files that need to be cleaned up.

Finally, a dialog will pop up with another set of check boxes. Scroll down until you find one labeled Older versions of Windows and click OK.

That’s it! That should get rid of those space-hogging .old folders forever! If you have any problems getting rid of them, post a comment here and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

Comments [5]

  1. Osama says:

    Thank u for the great tip.

  2. TheBigOldDog says:

    I just highlighted the folder from within Win7 and deleted it like any other folder. Am I missing something?

  3. Zorkmid says:

    Thanks for the tip. Most of the files were deleted, but 24Kb remain .. scriptff.dll from Firefox remain under the Program Files (x86) directory. Any idea how to get rid of the straggler?

  4. Marco Klinkenberg says:

    Hi.

    I did that, but cannot get rid of another screen telling me that there are two versions of Windows 7 available. This black screen with white letters has the label system startup. How do I remove the non-working version, the bottom one?

    Your help is kindly appreciated.

    Marco Klinkenberg

  5. Henry Mayeso says:

    thanks man, it worked like a dream. almost 24 GB is now free now

Leave a Reply