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Remove Previous Windows Installation Files To Recover Disk Space

Posted By amit On April 5, 2012 @ 4:40 PM In File & Disk Management | Comments Disabled

Michelle from SC writes:

I had to have my computer reformatted last month. Now when I do a disk cleanup it shows “previous windows installation(s)” (34.6 GB) as one of the option boxes for the disk cleanup. Is it safe to tick this box or should I leave it alone?

When you format your system and upgrade from an old version of Windows to a more recent version (e.g Windows XP to Windows 7), Windows stores the previous system files in the “Windows.old” folder. When you perform a custom installation of Windows 7 on a drive but do not format that system partition, the old system folder is automatically renamed from “Windows” to “Windows.old”. The result is nothing but two folders (Windows and Windows.old), as shown in the following example screenshot:

Windows Old Folder

The answer to your question is Yes, you can safely get rid of the Windows.old folder, provided you are completely sure that you won’t need the older settings, program files or your documents. It is a good idea to open the “Documents and settings” folder under “Windows.old” and recheck your My documents, My pictures and other important system folders. If you are sure that you have already backed up everything from your old operating system to the new one, there is no reason why you should keep the “Windows.old” folder and waste precious disk space.

 Disk Cleanup

There are two ways to permanently delete the old Windows folder. Either use Disk clean up or select the “Windwos.old” folder and hit “Shift + Delete”. It’s that simple, but like I said, you should double check all the contents of the Windows.old folder for important programs, files or documents from the older Windows installation.

 ~Amit Banerjee


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