How to delete large folders in Windows super fast

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 18, 2017
Updated • Oct 1, 2021
Windows, Windows tips

The fastest way to delete large folders and files in Windows is to take the command-line approach. You could either do it manually via CMD or create and run a batch file for quick deletion. These two methods are a lot faster than the traditional way of deleting using the Windows Explorer delete option.

But before I go through the superfast way to delete large folders, here’s the reason why it takes so much time. If you are in a hurry, jump to the next section for the solution.

Why Does Windows Take Time to Delete Large Folders?

When you delete huge folders in Windows, you will notice that the process takes quite a bit of time to complete. It is the opposite of fast.

I keep backup folders of gHacks locally on a platter-based drive, and these folders come close to 30 Gigabytes in size with more than 140,000 files and 350 folders.

When I need to delete them again, it takes a long time if I run the delete operation in Windows Explorer. The problem is that Windows prepares to delete first. This includes running calculations first, which, in itself may take a very long time to complete. Then comes the deletion part, even if you choose to delete the folders permanently (force delete).

Then when the actual deleting takes place, Windows analyzes the process and posts updates to the file operation window.

It may take ten or twenty minutes, or even longer, to delete a large folder (of size greater than 10 GB, for instance) from your hard disk using Explorer on Windows devices.

Delete Large Folders in Windows Quickly Using CMD

If you run delete commands from the command line instead, you will notice that the operation completes a lot faster. You may notice that the operation needs just a fraction of the time that the same operation requires when you run it in Explorer.

windows super fast delete large folders
Using CMD in Windows XP/7/10 to delete huge folders

Matt Pilz, who wrote about this back in 2015 saw a reduction from 11 minutes to 29 seconds, which made the command line operation more than 20 times faster than the Explorer option.

The downside to this is that it requires the use of the command line. Matt suggested adding the commands to the Explorer context menu so that users could run them in Explorer directly. This makes it both faster and easier.

The two commands that users require are Del, for deleting files, and Rmdir, for removing directories.

Here’s the step-by-step process to delete large folders using CMD:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe and select the result to load the command prompt.
  2. Navigate to the folder that you want to delete (with all its files and subfolders). Use cd path, e.g. cd o:\backups\test\ to do so.
  3. The command DEL /F/Q/S *.* > NUL deletes all files in that folder structure, and omits the output which improves the process further.
  4. Use cd.. to navigate to the parent folder afterwards.
  5. Run the command RMDIR /Q/S foldername to delete the folder and all of its subfolders.

Here are descriptions of each of the commands used above.

DEL /F/Q/S *.* > NUL

  • /F -- forces the deletion of read-only files.
  • /Q -- enables quiet mode. You are not asked if it is ok to delete files (if you don't use this, you are asked for any file in the folder, which can be time-consuming and therefore counter-productive).
  • /S -- runs the command on all files in any folder under the selected structure.
  • *.* -- delete all files.
  • > NUL -- disables console output. This improves the process further, shaving off about one quarter of the processing time off of the console command.

RMDIR /Q/S foldername

  • /Q -- Quiet mode, won't prompt for confirmation to delete folders.
  • /S -- Run the operation on all folders of the selected path.
  • foldername -- The absolute path or relative folder name, e.g. o:/backup/test1 or test1

Method #2: Creating a Batch File for Quick Deletion

If you don't need to run the command often, you may be perfectly fine running the commands directly from the command prompt.

However, if you do use it frequently, you may prefer to optimize the process. You may add the command to the Explorer context menu so that you can run it from there directly. This saves even more time without depending on a third-party software.

For this, the first thing you need to do is create a batch file. Create a new plain text document on Windows, and paste the following lines of code into it.

ECHO Delete Folder: %CD%?
CD /

Save the file as delete.bat afterwards. Make sure it has the .bat extension, and not the .txt extension. You can do this by selecting Save as type as All Files.

The batch file comes with a security prompt. This provides you with an option to stop the process; important if you have selected the context menu item by accident. You can use CTRL-C or click on the x of the window to stop the process. If you press any other key, all folders and files will be deleted without any option to stop the process.

You need to add the batch file to a location that is a PATH-environment variable. While you may create your own variable, you may also move it to a folder that is already supported; e.g.: C:\Windows. In other words, you need to place this .bat file in C:\Windows so that the Windows registry can easily access it.

delete folders quickly
Adding batch file to Windows registry

Do the following to add the new batch file to delete folders quickly to the Windows Explorer context menu. This can be executed in all major versions of Windows including Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10.

  1. Tap on the Windows key, type regedit.exe, and tap in the Enter key to open the Windows Registry Editor.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt.
  3. Go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\
  4. Right-click on Shell and select New > Key.
  5. Name the key Fast Delete
  6. Right-click on Fast Delete, and select New > Key.
  7. Name the key command.
  8. Double-click on default of the command key.
  9. Add cmd /c "cd %1 && delete.bat" as the value.
fast delete
Fast Delete option in Windows Explorer context menu


If you want to speed up the deletion process even further, you can always check some third-party tool like byenow.

Delete Large Folders in Windows Superfast Using CMD
Article Name
Delete Large Folders in Windows Superfast Using CMD
Delete large folders on Windows using command line operation. Or create a batch file to quickly delete heavy folders in Windows XP/7/10 via context menu.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

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