Manage Learn to apply best practices and optimize your operations.

Old Trick Still Kills Persistent Windows.old

Last November, I wrote about force deleting Windows.old from one of my PCs. I just ran into the same thing again today, and was pleased to put that information to work yet again. As sometimes happens, I’d already run Disk Cleanup (and its more powerful Open Source counterpart, mdiskcleanup.exe from the Comet project at GitHub). After the cleanup, a Cortana app related bit persistently hung on in the Windows.old directory. But when I tried to delete it using normal methods, it resisted. That’s when I discovered that my old trick still kills persistent Windows.old.


What Old Trick Still Kills Persistent Windows.old?

The command comes from the old-fashioned command line, and its syntax is:

rd /s /q %systemdrive% \Windows.old

I ran it using the standard C: moniker for my system drive, so that became rd /s /q C:\Windows.old. Inspecting my C: drive, I discovered that the Windows 10 Upgrade assistant was also still resident on this machine. So, just for grins I also executed rd /s /q C:\Windows10Upgrade. I’m pleased to report that this cheerfully and quietly did away with that folder and its contents as well. The screenshot to the left illustrates the “before” and “after” directory listings, showing I successfully removed Windows10Upgrade from my desktop PC.

[Note: If the screenshot is too small to read, click the image for a full-sized view. Then click the back-arrow in your browser to return to this post’s text.]

The Old Trick Works for Other Root-level Folders, Too

That’s what allowed me to get rid of Windows10Upgrade, as I explained earlier. But you’ll want to be careful using this command. You could also easily do away with necessary parts of the OS, such as Program Files, Users, or even Windows itself. If you can’t recover that stuff from the Recycle Bin, you’ll be left with a broken Windows installation. That’s among the many reasons why I back my production system up with an image backup in Macrium Reflect at 9:00 AM every morning. Don’t mess around with root-level system drive stuff unless you have a current image backup, too!