[Full Guide] How to Remove Windows Old Files from Windows

[Full Guide] How to Remove Windows Old Files from Windows

/ Andrew Holdeman

Benefits of Clearing Old Files From Windows

For a few reasons, keeping your computer free of old, unnecessary files is essential. First, the more cluttered your hard drive is, the slower your computer will run. This can be especially problematic if you’re trying to work with large files or programs that require quick access times.

Also, having a lot of old data on your PC increases the risk of data breaches, as outdated software may not be secure. Finally, finding the files you need is easier when there is less clutter. Removing old files can help keep your computer running smoothly and your data secure.

Using Disk Cleanup

Upgrading your Windows OS usually creates a folder named Windows.old, which stores all the files and folders from your previous OS. This folder can take up a large amount of storage space, which may cause your computer’s reduced performance. To free up storage space, we recommend deleting the Windows.old folder. To do this, follow the instructions below.

Step 1: Open the Start menu. Type Disk Cleanup and click the Open button.

disk cleanup

Step 2: Select Windows (C:) drive. Click OK.

disk cleanup drive selection

Step 3: Locate and find the Previous Windows installation. Check the box and click OK to delete.

previous windows installation

Using Storage Settings

Deleting a previous Windows installation using Storage Settings can be pretty straightforward. It is important to note that you must have the latest version of Windows installed on your device before you can delete the old version. Here is how you do it.

Step 1: Open Windows Settings by opening the start menu and clicking the settings icon.

open windows settings

Step 2: Click System and select Storage.

Step 3: In the right pane, click Temporary files.

storage temporary files

Step 4: Now, find and check the box for Previous Windows installation(s).

Step 5: Click the Remove files button and click Continue to confirm.

Step 6: Wait for the process to finish and close the Window.

find previous windows installations in windows

Using the Command Prompt

Using the command prompt, the process is straightforward if you want to delete a previous Windows installation. It involves using a few commands to delete the files associated with the previous installation and certain registry entries.

This process will help you reclaim space on your hard drive and eliminate any potentially unnecessary files left behind by the previous installation. While it may seem intimidating, the process is relatively simple and can be completed quickly. With the proper knowledge and patience, you can quickly delete a previous Windows installation using the command prompt. (or delete key)

Step 1: Open the Start menu, and type cmd.

Step 2: Click Run as administrator and select Yes.

run command prompt administrator

Step 3: In the command prompt window, type “RD /S /Q %SystemDrive%\windows.old” and press Enter.

remove systemdrive command in cmd

An Alternate Command:

Step 1: Open the Start menu, and type cmd.

Step 2: Click Run as administrator and select Yes.

Step 3: Type takeown /F “C:\Windows in the command prompt window.old” /A /R /D Y” and press enter. This will take ownership of the file.

takeown command in cmd

Wait for the completion message; it should read like this:

completion meesage from cmd

Step 4: Now, type this command to change the permission icacls “C:\Windows.old” /grant *S-1-5-32-544:F /T /C /Q”

Step 5: Press Enter.

Step 6: Type this command to delete Windows.old, RD /S /Q “C:\Windows.old” and press Enter to delete.

Using Storage Sense

Storage Sense is the simplest way to remove Windows.old folder from your device. To do so, follow these steps:

Step 1: Press Win + I to open the Windows Settings.

Step 2: Click on System and select Storage.

Step 3: Click Configure Storage Sense or run it now.

configure storage sense through storage option

Step 4: Check the box Delete the previous version of Windows.

Step 5: Click the Clean Now button.

Once you finish the procedures, the folder associated with the prior Windows 10 installation will no longer be on your device.

delete the previous version of windows

Using Command Prompt at Boot

If you’re having difficulty getting Take Ownership to work, you can delete Windows.old using Command Prompt during startup.

Step 1: First, restart your PC and boot to Advanced Startup. Then, open the Start menu and click the Power button icon.

Step 2: Hold the Shift key and click Restart.

restart computer 1

Step 3: After your PC restart, Click Troubleshoot.

advanced options troubleshoot

Step 4: Select the Advanced Option and Click Command Prompt.

command prompt in advanced options

Step 5: In your command prompt window, Type diskpart and press Enter.

Step 6: Then run the list volume, Type list volume, and press Enter.

After executing the list volume command, search for the drive letter of your Windows 10 drive in the ltr column. The C drive generally corresponds to 98% of people. But it depends on where you install the Windows. Once that is identified, verify the size to ensure it is correct. (In the picture below, the windows.old is located in D)

Step 7: Then type exit.

diskpart command with

Step 8: Execute delete the windows.old folder command as follows: RD /S /Q “D:\Windows .old”

remove windows old via cmd

Step 9: Close the Command Prompt and click continue to boot into your system.

choose an option.png continue

Can You Retrieve Files After Deleting Them

Deleting a file on Windows can be done in a couple of different ways – through the Recycle Bin, by directly deleting it from your hard drive, or with special software. If you’ve accidentally deleted a file and need to retrieve it, several methods can be used to recover the data.

The first option is to restore the file from the Recycle Bin on your PC. This is the easiest and most successful method for retrieving deleted files. If a file was recently deleted and you’re sure it hasn’t been overwritten, you can open the Recycle Bin (usually found in the start menu), select the file, and click the restore button. The file will be restored to its original location on your computer.

If the file has already been emptied from the Recycle Bin, or if you deleted it directly from your hard drive, you can try using special recovery software to retrieve it. Several options are available online – some free and some paid – but they may not always work depending on how badly the data has been overwritten.

In most cases, these programs will scan your storage device for any files that have been deleted and display a list of the deleted files with their original names and locations so you can easily restore them.

Conclusion: Simplify Your System: Remove Windows Old Files With Confidence

In conclusion, removing old and unnecessary files from your Windows system can significantly impact your computer’s performance and speed. As we discussed in this guide, there are several methods you can use to clear out old files, including Disk Cleanup, Storage Settings, Command Prompt, Storage Sense, and Command Prompt at Boot.

While each method may vary in complexity, they are all effective in freeing up disk space and improving your system’s overall performance. However, before you delete any files, you must ensure you don’t accidentally remove any important data.

As we mentioned, some files may be recoverable even after deletion, but it’s always best to create a backup of any files you want to keep before deleting them. By following these steps, you can keep your computer running smoothly and efficiently while keeping your data safe.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Old Files From Windows

Can Disk Cleanup Remove Old Files?

Yes, Disk Cleanup can remove old files. This tool is a built-in utility in Windows that helps free up space on your computer’s hard drive by finding and removing unnecessary files. It compresses large files, clears out temporary files, empties the Recycle Bin, and removes various system files and other items you no longer need.

Can I Restore Old System Files?

Yes, this is done using a system restoration tool that allows you to go back in time and retrieve specific files from the past. System restore tools are available for both Mac and Windows operating systems. They provide step-by-step instructions for restoring individual files or entire folders of data to their original state.

What Is a Disk Cleanup Utility?

A Disk Cleanup Utility is a powerful tool that can help to keep your system and hard drive organized. This tool allows you to locate and delete unnecessary files, folders, and temporary Internet files. It can also help you reclaim lost disk space by removing unused fragments of programs or files installed but never used.

How Can I Use a Disk Cleanup Tool Windows 10?

Disk Cleanup is a Windows built-in tool that allows users to delete unnecessary files from their system. These files can include temporary internet files, installation log files, or other unneeded data and programs. It is an effective way of freeing up disk space and optimizing the performance of your computer.

How do I Delete Windows System Files?

Using the Command Prompt is more flexible and complicated than using File Explorer. First, open the Command Prompt by typing “cmd” into the Start Menu search box. Once the Command Prompt is open, type in a command like “del <file path>” to delete any system file from its location.

Can I Restore an Old Windows Installation?

You can restore an old Windows installation in a few easy steps. To start, you’ll need to collect all of the necessary materials: your original operating system installation disc (if applicable), any drivers or software updates that may be needed, and any data backups you have made.

How do I Remove Files from My Windows Operating System?

The good news is that removing files from your Windows operating system is fairly simple. All you need to do is locate the file or folder you want to delete and then use the Delete command. Depending on how you’re accessing the file or folder, there are several ways you can go about this process.

Can I Automatically Delete Old Files Off Windows?

The Disk Cleanup tool is a built-in feature of Windows and can delete temporary files, system log files, and other junk files. To use it, open the Start menu and type “Disk Cleanup” into the search box. Then click the “Clean up system files” button to begin the process.

How Do I Free Disk Space From Windows 10?

One way to free up space on your computer’s hard drive is by deleting unnecessary files. To delete unneeded files, open File Explorer and navigate to the folder or file you want to remove. Right-click the item and select Delete. You can also clean out temporary files by running Disk Cleanup or Disk Defragmenter in System Tools.

How Do I Safely Delete Files for Disk Cleanup?

First, backing up any data you don’t want to lose before permanently removing anything from your hard drive is essential. Once everything is properly backed up, the next step is to use reliable software or utilities to remove the files. This can include a program like CCleaner or BleachBit, which are secure and easy to use for disk cleaning.

How Do I Remove a Windows Folder?

You’ll need to locate the folder you want to delete from your computer and right-click on it. From the options that appear, select “Delete,” and a dialog box will appear asking if you want to send the selected folder to the Recycle Bin. Select “Yes,” and the folder will be removed from your computer, but it will remain in the Recycle Bin until you choose to empty it.

Why Can’t I Access the Disk Cleanup App?

Disk Cleanup is a Windows utility app that helps users scan their computers for unnecessary files and delete them to free up disk space. Unfortunately, sometimes users find they cannot access the Disk Cleanup app. Several factors, such as permissions issues or missing system files, can cause this.

Andrew Holdeman
Meet the author

Andrew has extensive experience with a wide range of writing platforms and automation systems. He has spent over 6 years creating content and troubleshooting for various companies. He also enjoys spending time with his family and his fiancé, while staying active and healthy.