What use is Windows.old folder after install Win7?

Posted on 2009-12-17
Last Modified: 2013-11-29
Yes, I know I can delete the large folder: windows.old, which was created by the instal of Win7 64-bit. Clean install upgrade from vista 32-bit.
Can I use some of the program.exe or move the Thunderbird .cvs addressbook files?
and more?
Is the creation of window.old a protection should for re-install of the previous OS?
There was no explanation by Microsoft as to why or what use is the windows.old.
To what use might I put that windows.old, before I delete. When is a "safe" after date of install to delete?
Other thoughts?
thank you,
Question by:jamesg1940
    LVL 21

    Accepted Solution


    What use is Windows.old folder after install Win7?
    Ans: The windows.old folder contains the previous OS's files[Users/Documents and Settings folder and Program Files.] (if you upgrade to win7 from Vista, the windows.old folder contains the old Vista OS).
    It's is only used in case you need to revert back to your previous OS. The Windows.old folder can be deleted as long as there is no longer in any information in the folder that you no longer need. If you think there may be a possibility that you might want to return back to the previous operating system, you would not want to delete it.

    Can I use some of the program.exe or move the Thunderbird .cvs addressbook files?
    and more?
    Ans: You need to take ownership of that folder. Check this:

    Is the creation of window.old a protection should for re-install of the previous OS?
    Ans: Yes, as I told above in first ans.

    There was no explanation by Microsoft as to why or what use is the windows.old.
    To what use might I put that windows.old, before I delete. When is a "safe" after date of install to delete?
    Ans: Some of the Microsoft explanation infact the worarounds you can do with windows.old folder
    KB 971760 - How to restore a Windows 7-based computer to a previous Windows installation by using the Windows.old folder

    The next two articles were written for Windows Vista but would work for Windows 7 as well.
    KB 933212 - How to remove the Windows.old folder that is generated when you perform a custom installation of Windows Vista
    KB 930527 - How to use the Disk Cleanup feature to delete the Windows.old folder after you install Windows Vista

    Faraz H. Khan
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    windows.old is your previous system - packed up and ready for deletion.
    but it's function is to be available if windows 7 initial setup comes in a dead lock
    and previous system needs to be restored (before the bootloader gets installed).
    this feature you will not see often but very rarely during some failed setup.
    you will see (require it) it only when W7 still give you the option in loading the OS.
    If you look closely during the installation W7 gives you ,once or twice, the option
    to boot your previous system.Once bootloader gets configured,previous system gets 'packed'.
    Now,it's there only if you have something to preserve.
    programs from the old installation will not work (at least most of them).Those standalone ones will.
    You can of course move files from there (like contacts,mail etc...) to new installation folders
    (if the programs that made them are the same).
    once you take what you need,its perfectly safe to delete....
    LVL 22

    Assisted Solution

    And remember :
    All content from the previous installation is retained in the windows.old, including the contents of the User directory and all files associated with user accounts like their documents, music, pictures ect. It is essentially a complete backup of the previous Windows installation.
    To delete windows.old can sometimes be of an issue.I remember when Vista refused to delete it no matter what you did.In W7 a right click and delete worked for me but you never know...
    So try and use disk clean up wizzard just in case....
    LVL 12

    Assisted Solution

    by:John Griffith
    If you encounter permission problems, activate the hidden admin account -
    When deleting - RIGHT-click, hold the SHIFT key down, then select delete.  This is a permanent delete - not moved to recycle.  
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    When you perform an upgrade of Windows XP or you reinstall your system, the old Windows files are placed in the windows.old folder. It is not possible to restore the previous installation of Windows, so keeping the folder is not necessary. You can delete the folder without any problems; it won't affect your system/currently installed programs.

    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    and please do remember:
    Once W7 installs you can not restore your previous OS !
    No way ...

    have a nice day !
    LVL 18

    Assisted Solution

    How to delete windows.old in windows 7

    Click on Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disc Cleanup
    When the dialog box comes up, select the drive that has the .old files on it and click OK
    The system then scans for the files to be cleaned up and another dialog box opens with the selection.  Click on the button labeled Clean up system files at the bottom of that dialog box.
    Another dialog box will come up, select the drive again that has the .old files on it.  The system will perform another scan for the system files that need to be cleaned up.
    After scanning, another dialog box opens up and there you will find a list of check boxes.  Scroll through and check on the box labeled Older versions of Windows and click OK.
    LVL 1

    Author Closing Comment

    thank u all; I got it done & with understanding.
    Takes awhile to re-establish a well tuned PC with fav. Programs after a clean install.
    Win7 seems somewhat faster, nicer, but it should due to the usual 25% increase of positive aspects from a clean install, no matter which OS was cleaned.

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