Upgrading your PC from Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro is fairly straightforward. What I found to be a little less intuitive is the process for deleting the Windows.Old file that contains old program and operating system data carried over from Windows 7.
This folder is a safety net intended to keep users from losing any important data during the upgrade from one operating system to another. It’s so well protected that deleting the folder isn’t actually allowed in most default setups. I found myself hitting brick wall after brick wall when trying to delete it through the File Explorer. It kept telling me that I needed permission from the administrator when I was deleting from an administrator account.
The method of removing this folder from the drive and freeing up all that extra space may not be obvious to most users, but it’s not as difficult as you might imagine.
First, you’ll want to access the Disk Cleanup utility. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is simply by typing the word disk while you’re in the Start screen and selecting Disk Cleanup from the results.
Next, you’ll need to select the drive where your Windows.Old folder is located. In most cases, this will be the C: drive. Once you’ve done this, hit OK.
Disk Cleanup will now open, giving you access to a number of file types on the drive that you can delete to take back some space. You won’t find previous Windows installation files here. For that, you’ll want to select the Clean Up System Files button in the lower-left area of the window.
Once you’ve selected this option, the Disk Cleanup utility will restart. You’ll then need to locate the line item for Previous Windows Installation(s) and select it by clicking on the box to the left. All there is left to do now is hit OK and wait a while. It can take several minutes to clear this directory, but once it’s done, you should have quite a bit more space on your drive to do with as you please.
This process will delete everything in the directory. Make sure you have cleared out any files that you wish to keep. There is no easy way to bring them back once they’ve been deleted through this process. Often, a program will store its own cache of files in a proprietary directory away from your user account. Those screenshots and video projects you thought were moved over in the upgrade may not have been. It’s better to be safe than sorry.