How to Remove Windows.old and $Windows.BT Folders in Windows 10

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Gilles S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I just installed Windows 10 and got it configured and working 100% the way I like it. I took your advice and purchased Acronis True Image and made a backup of my Windows 7 system before upgrading to Windows 10. While browsing my C drive I noticed I have a Windows.old and a $WINDOWS.~BT folder. I read online that when I install Windows 10, it also keeps my previous operating system (Windows 7) on my hard drive in case I need to roll back. Since I already have the Windows 7 backup made, I don't need two copies and would like to remove the Windows.old and a $WINDOWS.~BT folders from my hard drive so I can save some space. How do I do that? "

My response:

For the record, the Windows.old folder is your previous operating system installation (in your case, Windows 7), and the $WINDOWS.~BT folder contains Windows 10 installation files which your system used during the Windows 10 upgrade process. The $WINDOWS.~BT is usually a hidden folder (hence the reason it has the dollar sign in front); you were most likely able to view that folder because you have 'view hidden files' enabled in your Folder Options.

At any rate, you can safely remove both of these using the from within Windows 10 by using the 'disk cleanup' utility. Deleting both these folders should reclaim around 16GB or more disk space, but I'll also show you how to reclaim even more using the disk cleanup utility, described next.

How to Remove Windows.old and $Windows.BT Folders in Windows 10

Here's the proper way to delete the Windows.old and $Windows.BT folders:

  1. Click Start and type in "disk cleanup" (no quotes). Wait for the Disk Cleanup utility to show up in the Start menu and click it.
  2. A window will appear asking you which hard drive you want to clean up. Choose the C drive (which is default) and click OK.
  3. The "Disk Cleanup for Primary (C:)" window will appear; click button near the bottom that says "Clean up system files".
  4. The same window in Step #2 will appear; click OK again.
  5. The "Disk Cleanup for (C:)" window will appear. Scroll down the list until you get to "Previous Windows Installation(s)" (which is the Windows.old folder) and place a checkmark beside it, then do the same for "Temporary Windows Installation Files" (which is the $WINDOWS.~BT folder). While you're at it, you might want to place a checkmark beside "Windows Upgrade log files", "Temporary Internet Files", and even the "Recycle Bin". That should claim back quite a bit of disk space.
  6. Click OK and the system will delete all that you have selected.

That's it!

If you have Acronis True Image you can create a new backup of the Windows 10 system, minus all the bloat. When I'm working on customers computers, I usually shrink the C drive and create a new "recovery partition" and store the newly made Windows 10 backup on there. That way the customer doesn't have the go looking for restore media for their "pristine" Windows 10 backup.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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beergas's picture

Thought that deleting System Files via Cleanup method mentioned will also purge any/all of the saved quick Recovery settings that have been made?
Could be this way allows them to be retained, just wondering since going to use method to remove the $WINDOWS.~BT folder. Will be sure to make a fresh quick Recovery after that and
look to see what ones were retained, if any. Thanks.

Bilk24's picture

A shorter way to get to the tool without any typing is:
Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup.

I use the tool on a routine basis and simply made a shortcut and drug it above my START button on both my desktop running Windows 7 Pro and my laptop with Windows 8.1 Pro. Both computers are using the software "Classic Shell" so that everything still looks like Windows XP so I'm not sure if my suggestions will work on any Windows system without the Classic Shell installation.