Starting with the release of Windows 10 Operating System, Microsoft announced that it that there will be no more upgrades (Example: from Windows 8 to Windows 10). All future upgrades will come as a normal windows update.

With that said, this is causing a mess. Every time an upgrade is performed (in most cases normal users don’t even know) it will make a backup of the Windows folder on you PC.

This is the Operating System folder, the engine of your computer. The purpose of the backup is to be able to roll back the upgrade in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, Microsoft engineers have not thought about how to delete this folder when it is no longer needed and the upgrade has succeeded.

The folder will be renamed Windows.old.

The next upgrade it will create the folder Windows.old (1) and so forth. Every one of these folders is about 20G or more.

Eventually you will run out of space.

In my case, I had 2 upgrades in 6 months. With my expensive SSD Drive, I will run out of space before the next upgrade, If I did not delete the old files.

I am not sure what would happen if I ran out of space before the next upgrade, but I am confident the upgrade will fail and your computer will keep rebooting and try to restore several times driving you crazy.

I really hope Microsoft will do something about this, but in the meantime, be aware!

Until Microsoft takes action to save the world, here are some tips to save your computer from running out of space.

There are solutions to this. Basically, if you know when the upgrade happened, go and delete the old folders “%old%, any folder named Windows.old%.


Deleting these folders is not that easy for the common user.

  1. First, you don’t have permissions to delete this folder.
  2. Good News: This can be overcome. Here is how. You need to take ownership from these bandits
  3. What does that mean? In Windows, there is a concept of ownership. An owner is the user who first created the file\folder. In this case, the folder was created by “SYSTEM” or “TrustedInstaller”. Does sound Chinese? Because it is. Unless you have a certification in Microsoft Technologies.
  • Find the windows folder. There are several ways to do that. If you don’t know how, here is one way
    • Click the “Folder” Icon on your taskbar (that is the very bottom of the screen)
    • That will bring you to a screen similar to this
    • Click the “This PC” link
    • Now click the folder named OS “C:”
    • Here is where the Windows folder (s) are located
    • Now, to change the ownership, right click the folder
    • Click Properties
    • Click “Security” Tab
    • Click “Advanced”
    • Click the “Change” link next to the owner
    • Type the name of your user, and click “Check names” to validate
    • Click OK
    • Now the owner has changed, but this is only done for the parent folder, you also need permissions to files and folders inside it, so check the box “replace owner on subcontainers and objects” and click “Apply”. This will take a while.
    • At the end, click OK.
    • Now you own the folder and can go and delete it. Right click the folder and press delete.
    • Lastly, empty the recycle bin on your desktop
      • Right click and select “Empty Recycle Bin”

If you are lucky, all is good, but in most cases, you will get some errors where certain files cannot be deleted for various reasons. If you are not sure how to fix them, just skip them and move on. I have not found an easy way to deal with this.

Common errors are:

  1. File in use by another program or user…
  2. File name too long…
  3. Other garbage that you can’t decipher