If you have upgraded Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 to Windows 8, you may find that you have a large Windows.old folder on your system. You can also get a Windows.old folder if you end up doing a refresh of your Windows 8 PC. Lastly, if you do a custom install of Windows 8 and don’t format the partition that already has a previous install of Windows, then you will have a Windows.old folder.
Luckily, you can remove this Windows.old folder without any problems. On my system, which was an upgrade from Windows 7, the Windows.old folder was taking up almost 15 GB. Since I have a 120 GB SSD, this is a significant amount of space. In this article, I’ll show you how you can remove the folder from your system.
I previously wrote about how to delete the Windows.old folder in Windows 7. The procedure is slightly different and I also mention a second way to do it in this post.
The easiest way to remove the Windows.old folder is to use the disk cleanup tool in Windows 8. To do this, open the Charms bar and then click on the Search icon. Type in cleanup and then click on Settings.
Then click on Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files. This will load up Disk Cleanup in Windows 8. Click on Clean up system files.
This will bring up another dialog where you will be able to choose Previous Windows installations.
Click OK and then click on Delete Files in the pop up box that appears. At that point, Disk Cleanup will begin to delete the previous Windows installations.
Elevated Command Prompt
The other way you can delete the folder is by going to the command prompt. First, you need to open a command prompt as Administrator. You can do this by going to the Start Screen, right-clicking and choosing All apps, and then right-clicking on Command Prompt and choosing Run as Administrator.
At the command prompt, you just need to type in the following command:
RD /S /Q %SystemDrive%\windows.old
Note that you may have more than one previous installation in which case you might see Windows.old.000. You can delete the other installations by using the same command and changing the name by appending the .000.
Also, make sure you go into the Windows.old folder and copy out all files that you may want from the previous installation. Once it is deleted, you will not be able to recover any of your files, so really make sure you don’t need anything before you delete it.
Bonus: If you can’t delete the Windows.old folder while still in Windows, you can also try booting to the System Recovery Options and opening a command prompt there. This basically allows you to interface with Windows without Windows actually running. So if the Windows.old folder is locked by some process, you can still delete it.
Read my previous post on how to boot into Windows 8 System Recovery Options. Once you are there, click on Troubleshoot, Advanced Options and then Command Prompt. Then just go ahead and type in the same command mentioned above to delete the Windows.old folder. Hopefully, you won’t have any issues doing it here. Enjoy!