removing Windows 10 legacy components

May 24, 2017 11:50AM PDT

Any help on this would be much appreciated! Having bought a new computer I’ve successfully recovered appropriate backups from an external hard drive. However . . . on my new C drive I’m left with a folder “windows.old” reappearing from previous. Sub-folders are Program Files, Program Files (x86), Users (empty) & Windows. All the subsidiary stuff is Microsoft remnants. But I’m prevented from deleting. Both using W10.
When my old computer crashed a few weeks the MS support desk removed these folders by first doing something (unfortunately I didn’t pay attention) and then using disk cleanup to clean “Legacy components”. I’ve tried this but the item doesn’t appear: probably dependent in that first phase.
I anyone able to help with step by step instructions.
I know I could return to ms support desk but prefer to try & avoid this in part through embarrassment but more importantly because I’m trying to close my ms account & this action will only extend the agaony further.

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Here's a CNET article on that.
May 24, 2017 12:43PM PDT
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deleting Windows 10 legacy items after recovering backups.
May 25, 2017 12:52AM PDT

thanks for help. Unfortunately I'd tried this. There is no show of such items on cleanup. Perhaps the issue is this results from an external backup of files not an upgrade etc. Perhaps it is somehow 'hidden' from cleanup because of this. MS support did something first that caused such an item to then sow up in the cleanup - but what??

Thanks for info anyway.

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Re: delete windows.old
May 25, 2017 3:56AM PDT

Personally I would do it from Linux.
Download a Linux iso (for example from, burn it to a DVD (with free IMGBURN or your favorite image burner you already installed in your new PC), boot from it, go to the file manager and delete that windows.old folder.

Another thing to try would be to go back to factory conditions (refresh or reset Windows) and see if that makes that folder appear again in a deletable form or maybe even totally deletes it. Then you might have restore your personal data from your backups again; this time make sure you don't include that folder.

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If it's not showing up there.
May 25, 2017 6:31AM PDT

Manually delete it. There's plenty of ways how from safe mode to booting another OS.

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Chkdsk Fixed It Once For Me...
May 25, 2017 11:55AM PDT

After attempting to remove Windows.old using Disk Cleanup on one of the computers here, and by also attempting to remove it manually in both Normal and Safe Mode Windows, the Windows.old folder simply wouldn't go away. Here, I ran Chkdsk using the instructions below and after restarting the computer, Windows.old was gone. I'll guess some of the file indexes were wrong, or maybe something else, by the fixes provided by Chkdsk allow things to take care of itself.

It seems as though the Windows 10 "upgrade" process may not install all the files correctly, or maybe they're damaged, or maybe something else, but running Chkdsk has fixed quite a few of these minor glitches. Try running Chkdsk in "repair" mode to find any damaged files and correct them. Start by opening a command prompt as an admin. RIGHT click on the Start button, choose "Command Prompt (Admin). (Or type "Command" in the search line, then RIGHT click on the "Command Prompt" listing at the top, choose "Run as admin".) Once there, type chkdsk /f /r /x, leaving the appropriate spaces between the letters as shown, then press the Enter key. You should see a note that it can't be run till a restart is done, type "Y" for yes, then press the Enter key again. Close the command prompt and restart the computer. Chkdsk will run upon restart and will take quite a while to finish.. Don't panic when the progress bar stays at 10% for a long time. It's fairly normal and the Chkdsk process may take a couple of hours.

When it's finished, it will boot to your normal startup/lock screen and you can login normally and then see if things are working correctly again.

Hope this helps.


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May 26, 2017 12:21AM PDT

Many thanks for this help. have now done but unfortunately still there. looks as though I have to swallow my pride & return to ms support! but thanks.

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Why not just delete it?
May 26, 2017 8:43AM PDT

Google "How to delete Windows.old" finds the Microsoft way and the other ways.

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Jun 3, 2017 3:16AM PDT

I'm assuming this Windows.old folder came from your backup restoration, there shouldn't have been one on your new computer unless it, too, was a Win10 upgrade. It also implies that your backup was taken within 30 days of your upgrade to Win10 on the old machine, otherwise it should have been automatically deleted. Microsoft leave it there to be able to roll-back to the previous system within the first 30 days, if you don't like Win10 (shock horror - joke!).

That's a lot of assumptions but if so, the problem is one of ownership and permissions. Windows.old is a system file but in this case, it isn't owned by the active Windows system - it's owned by the Windows on the now dead system. So that's my best guess for why it isn't showing up in the Windows System Files clean-up list. You could, I suppose, run a command prompt as administrator and take ownership of it and then set the permissions to allow you to delete it but personally, I'd do the same as Kees and use a live Linux CD (I have an ancient Knoppix) and delete it from there and be done with it.

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