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why you should clean up after installing the new update

Installing a major update like 22H2 causes the OS to temporarily archive the old version of Windows. Clean up to permanently delete associated files and free up dozens of gigabytes.

When you upgrade your PC with a major Windows update, the older version of the operating system is temporarily stored in an archive folder for you to roll back in case something goes wrong.

This directory named Windows.old, which is located at the root of the system disk (C:), archives the old version of Windows previously installed on your computer for a limited time. It thus contains the OS, the installed applications, but also the personal files and documents for each user of the machine.

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This system is supposed to allow you to easily roll back by restoring the old version of Windows if you are not satisfied with the update or have problems with it.

Only problem, if this system is essential for a successful rollback, it generally takes up a lot of space. Microsoft may have reduced its retention period from 28 days (on older versions of Windows) to ten days under Windows 10 and Windows 11, but the occupation of several tens of gigabytes on storage may be a problem for some.

Windows 11 Windows.old
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This will obviously not be a problem on machines equipped with a large hard drive. But more modest PCs that have an SSD of a few hundred gigabytes on board risk seeing their storage quickly saturated, at least for several days. And the consequences can be felt very quickly. Because in addition to the lack of space to store files, the machine will very quickly show signs of slowing down.

If the 22H2 update installed on your machine gives you complete satisfaction and you don’t intend to go back, you can easily delete the Windows.old directory. Still, it’s best to use the Windows 11 built-in system cleaning tool. Here’s how.

1. Open Settings

Start by opening the Settings of Windows 11 using the keyboard shortcut Windows+i. From section Systementer the menu dedicated to the Storage.

Windows 11 Windows.old
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2. Display cleaning recommendations

Go now to the menu of Cleaning recommendations. Four categories of elements can be cleaned: Temporary filesthem Large or unused filesthem Files synced to the cloud and the Unused apps.

Windows 11 Windows.old
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In principle, the categories for which items have been found are expanded by default. The section Temporary files should thus display several elements, including The Previous Windows Installation.

3. Start cleaning

Now click on the menu Show advanced repair options.

Windows 11 Windows.old
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The window that opens displays all the temporary files that can be deleted. Among these, in addition to the Previous installation of Windows, check all the elements that you believe you no longer need.

Windows 11 Windows.old
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Finally click on the button Delete filesdisplayed at the top of the window, then confirm by clicking the button Continue in the pop-up that appears. Wait several minutes for the cleaning process to complete.

Windows 11 Windows.old
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The purge operated by Windows 11 should save you several gigabytes. On our test machine, this cleaning allowed us to recover approximately 25 GB of storage space.

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