Whenever you update your Windows operating system, be it by installing security or other patches, or by upgrading to a new service pack or even operating system version, a copy of the previous version of files is stored on the system so that it is possible to rollback the update.
An indicator that this is indeed the case is the Windows.old folder that you may have sitting on your computer's primary hard drive. It contains files and folders that were part of the previous version of Windows installed on the PC.
That's great if you run into troubles on the updated system, but it also means that storage space is being used by those rollback files that could be used otherwise.
After a while, those files become dead weight as you won't need them to roll back to a previous version of the operating system anymore.
Free up Disk Space after Windows 8.1 upgrade
If you have upgraded your operating system to Windows 8.1 recently from Windows 8, or maybe even from Windows 7 to 8 and then 8.1, then you may have Gigabytes of old versions stored on your operating system that you may not need anymore.
Tip: I suggest you work with the new system at least for one or two days to make sure that everything is working as intended. This includes connecting external hardware to the system and running all important applications that you rely on.
The Windows Disk Cleanup tool has been designed to remove temporary or old files from Windows that are no longer needed. This includes files from previous operating system installations as well as updates, and files that are no longer needed because they have been replaced with a newer version.
Windows 8.1 users who upgraded their system from Windows 8 or Windows 7 may discover that they can remove Gigabytes of space from the system when they run the cleanup tool. The easiest way to run the tool is the following:
- Tap on the Windows-key if you are not on the start screen.
- Type Disk Cleanup and select "Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files".
- Click on the button "clean up system files". The application restarts and additional cleanup options are available.
- Look for the entry "Previous Windows installation(s)" and "Windows Update Cleanup" and check how much disk space you can recover if you clean these.
- Select all areas of the operating system that you want to clean and click on ok afterwards.
- Note: if you select those options, you will no longer be able to restore the previous version of Windows or a previous update.
Tip: I'd recommend that you run the tool a couple of days after installing updates (to make sure everything is running ok) to free up disk space, especially if storage space is scarce on your primary drive.