How to Reclaim Hard Disk Space After Upgrading to Windows 11

    Windows 11 is officially available and Microsoft has started rolling out the feature updates to compatible devices running Windows 10.

    If you’re the one who has upgraded to Windows 11 from Windows 10 or other versions, then you might have noticed a quick spike in storage usage, right? Let me explain to you why this happen.

    Whenever users upgrade their device to older to the latest version, the setup process before upgrading creates a copy of the previous installation. If something wrong happens during the upgrade or the upgrade process fails the system will restore the previous manually.

    Even though, Windows 11 upgrade process completes successfully the copy of the previous version still exists on the hard drive with the folder name ‘windows.old‘, which consumes around 12-16GB of hard drive space.

    The overall purpose of making a copy of the previous version of Windows OS during an upgrade is to keep users on the safe side and if users so that users can restore the previous version manually if they have a compatibility issue or some features are not working properly.

    How to Reclaim Hard Disk Space After Upgrading to Windows 11

    If your device has a big hard disk let’s say 1TB or above, then you ignore this because. On the other hand, if the hard disk is low, then reclaiming 16GB of space will make a lot different, right?

    The process to reclaim hard disk space after upgrading to Windows 11 is super easy. There are two ways to do that and let’s start with the first method:

    How to free up space after Windows 11 using Settings

    Launch Settings app in Windows 11. For that, press the WIN + I key combination.

    storage settings in windows 11

    Select the System tab on the left and then on the right side, select Storage.

    temporary files in windows 11

    On this screen, the system will start scanning all the files on your hard drives. Once the process completes, select the Temporary files option.

    Previous Windows Installation in Windows 11 delete

    Next, you need to check the box for “Previous Windows Installation” and then click the Remove files button.

    Apart from that, if you want to you can also check the box for Downloads (if not important files exist) accompanied by Windows upgrade logs files.

    remove files option in windows 11

    The dialog box will appear asking for the confirmation, click on the Continue button.

    How to free up space after Windows 11 using Disk Cleanup

    Apart from that, there’s a nifty Disk Cleanup utility available using which users can also reclaim space on Windows 11 by deleting Previous Windows Installation files. Here’s how you can do that:

    Click on the Search icon available on the taskbar and type Disk Cleanup. When the same app appears in search results, click to open it.

    drive selection

    Drive selection dialog box will appear. Here, you need to make sure to select Windows Installation drive. Most of the time it’s C drive, select it and click OK.

    clean up system files in windows 11

    Disk Cleanup for OS window will appear, click on the Clean up system files button.

    disk clean up scanning files and folders in windows 11

    The disk cleanup tool will start scanning files and folders on C Drive. Wait for few seconds.

    Disk clean up for OS Installation in windows 11

    And later, the ‘Disk Cleanup for OS’ window will appear again. Under the Files to delete section, find and check the box for “Previous Windows installation” option and click OK.

    Wait for few seconds and let the tool do its works.

    Once done, we recommended you perform this extra step too.

    On Taskbar, click on the Search icon and type %temp%, when the same folder appears in search results, click to open it.

    open temporary folder in windows 11

    Here, select all the files and folders and delete them. If you’re unable to delete few items, it’s ok.

    delete temporary folder in windows 11

    As simple as that!

    Viney Dhiman
    Himachali, Mechanical Engineer, Snooker Lover, Avid drinker of Scotch, Traveler, and Webmaster. (

    Recent Articles

    Related Stories

    Leave A Reply

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.