How to Downgrade from Windows 10

John Lister's picture

While most of the response to Windows 10 has been positive, it might not be for everyone. The good news is that downgrading from Windows 10 to your previous operating system is a relatively simple task.

Exactly how you can go about it depends on which of three categories you fall into: whether you upgraded using the "Get Windows 10" app (via Windows Update); whether you used a DVD or USB drive with Windows 10 media; or, whether you bought a computer with Windows 10 pre-installed.

"Easy Downgrade" Method: Within 30 Days

If you used Windows Update to upgrade to Windows 10 (which runs via the 'Get Windows 10' app), you have 30 days from the point of installation to use an easy downgrade method. That's because during the upgrade to Windows 10, your computer creates a backup of all relevant data from your previous Windows installation. This previous operating system backup is deleted after 30 days to save disk space.

To downgrade from Windows 10, simply open the Start Menu, select "Settings" then "Update & Security" then "Recovery" and then "Go back to Windows 8.1" or "Go back to Windows 7." (Whichever version you used to have will be listed.)

This is designed as an in-place downgrade, meaning that all your programs and files should still be available. As always, it's worth backing up key files at the very least before you change your Windows edition - whether you are downgrading or upgrading.

Using the DVD or USB

If you waited more than 30 days to downgrade or if you did a clean install of Windows 10 using a DVD or USB, then you won't be able to use the easy downgrade method mentioned above.

Instead, the previous operating system will need to be reloaded using DVD or USB from its original install media. It also means that you will have to reinstall all your programs and user data; so it is advisable to backup your operating system using a disk image before reinstalling the old one.

If you don't have the install media, you can download it from Microsoft's website; you will also need a valid product key in order to obtain the download.

Windows 10 Pre-installed

If you bought a machine with Windows 10 already installed, your options will vary depending on your manufacturer.

Some manufacturers, such as HP, are offering its business partners machines with Windows 7 or 8 automatically pre-installed and Windows 10 as the primary operating system. It means that business partners can downgrade to either Windows 7 or 8 from Windows 10 immediately without any delay.

Dell, on the other hand, will ship computers with preinstalled with Windows 7 or 8 (Pro) and Windows 10 Pro (as the primary operating system) for its customers when requested. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Are you thinking about downgrading back to Windows 7 or 8.1? Does knowing that a downgrade is often simple make you more likely to try out Windows 10? Would a downgrade option affect your choice of new computer?

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laser's picture

Is there some way to copy the backup of all relevant data from your previous Windows installation before the 30 days are up?

Dennis Faas's picture

You can backup the data but it won't be meaningful unless you can restore it. Windows won't let you store it if it's older than 30 days. If you want to keep your backup more than 30 days, then you should have made a disk image backup before applying Windows 10. That way you can revert at any time because it's independent of Windows.

sgrmti_2969's picture

Upgraded to Win 10 with the app. It all went smoothly, apart form having to re-install Perfect Disc and Bitdefender. But later I lost my internet connection (on LAN): Troubleshooter tells me that my computer "appears to be correctly configured" and the problem is between my PC and the Modem not responding'. But my laptop internet connection is fine, as is everyone else's in the house. So I've no idea how to fix this. Trying using in a USB adapter version, but same problem. So I'm seriously considering going back to Win 7. Robert

Dennis Faas's picture

I've seen that on many Windows 10 upgrades that old drivers (especially sound cards) need to be reinstalled. As such, go to your computer / motherboard manufacturer's website and download the LAN driver. Then go to device manager and delete the LAN adapter and reinstall the driver. That should hopefully fix it.

Voodoo Priest's picture

I for one am facing what seems like disingenuous behavior from Microsoft. I have upgraded Friday night from a Windows 8.1 system which had itself been upgraded from Windows 7 SP1 that came with the laptop.
Fast forward two days and some later to half an hour ago: having been deeply dissatisfied with Windows 10 (and I have written a report about my experience on the Dell customer forums) I am now trying to downgrade back to Windows 8.1 and the message I get is (roughly translated from French): "sorry, you can't go back. The files we need have been deleted from this PC". How can that be? It's not even 3 days out of the 30 days it was supposed to be before these files were deleted. There's still over 12 GB on that system partition and there's plenty of space on other drives so why the deleting?
I am now down to either keeping an OS that doesn't play well with the laptop's hardware and my work habits, or reinstalling Windows 8.1 from scratch.
Anyway, this is an instance when it's not needed to wait over 30 days before the downgrade becomes impossible.