Posted on October 19, 2016 · Posted in Windows 10

How to Downgrade Windows 10 and Rollback to Windows 7 or 8.1

After the installation of Windows 10 over the installed system (in case of upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1), a user can rollback to the previous OS version if the new OS is unstable or simply don’t like. In this article we’ll show how to roll back the installation of Windows 10 and consider the aspects and restrictions of the downgrade process.

How to Roll Back from Windows 10 After the Upgrade from the Earlier Windows Version

To revert to an older OS version, in Windows 10 open the Start menu and go to Settings -> Update and Security — > Recovery. In the Recovery section, click Get started in Go back to Windows 8.1 (or Windows 7 depending on the version of the previously installed OS).

Windows 10: Go back to Windows 8.1

In the next window, specify the reason why Windows 10 doesn’t suit you, and then follow the simple wizard instructions. After the restart, the computer will boot in the special mode to remove Windows 10 and restore your previous system. During the process, you will see the text “Restoring your previous version of Windows” all the time.

Restoring your previous version of Windows

After another restart, the desktop of the previously installed Windows version will appear.

Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT Folders and 30-Days Period

You will be able to go back to the previous OS version only within 30 days after the upgrade to Windows 10. In 30 days, Windows servicing job will automatically delete the hidden folders Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT (in some cases, there is also $Windows.~WS folder, which is deleted as well) from the root directory of the system disk. These are the folders, which store data and files of the previous Windows version necessary for the downgrade. So if you want to keep the opportunity of the rollback from Windows 10, never delete Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT folders manually or using Disk Cleanup wizard.

hidden folders Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT

To be able to downgrade in more than 30 days, rename the three folders, for example, to BAK-Windows.old, BAK-$WINDOWS.~BT and BAK-$Windows.~WS. In this case, Windows 10 won’t delete them, since their names have been changed.

backup windows.old folder

Later, return the original names to the folders before the downgrade.

How to Run Windows 10 Downgrade in the Recovery Mode

If you cannot access Windows desktop (the system doesn’t boot or there are other errors) run Windows 10 in the Recovery mode to downgrade to the previous Windows version. To run this mode, you can use these instructions, boot from Windows 10 installation disk (described here) or interrupt the normal booting of the computer with the Power button three times in a row. In Advanced Recovery Options window, select Troubleshoot -> Advanced options and click Go back to the previous build.

Go back to the previous build.

How to Recover Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT Folders After They Have Been Deleted

If more than a month has passed since your upgrade to Windows 10, you won’t be able to roll back to the previous Windows version, because Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT folders would have been automatically deleted. So, to downgrade to the previous Windows version, you have to try to recover the data contained in these folders. The success depends on the active usage of your disk space, how much free space there is on the disk, how long ago the folders were deleted and the quality of the tool to recover the deleted files.

I used the already  well-proven tool Hetman Partition Recovery (

  1. Run Hetman Partition Recovery, select disk C: and run the full analysis of the NTFS volume for the deleted folders.Scan drive with Hetman Partition Recovery
  2. If it goes well, the scanner will find Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT folders in the root of the disk. Select and recover them (you’d better to save them to a separate logical or hard disk).restore deleted folders
  3. After these files are recovered, copy them to the system disk.
  4. Now you can roll the OS back.

Important. It is strongly recommended to backup the whole system before the downgrade using the recovered files.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update and 10-Days Period

If you installed Windows 10 from the official .ISO image of the system released after August, 2, 2016, bear in mind that starting from Windows 10 Version 1607 (Anniversary Update) Microsoft reduced the time period, within which the system could be downgraded from 30 to 10 days! It seems that, in MS opinion, the system is good enough to understand if a user likes it or not within 10 days.

Windows 10 1607: 10 days to rollback

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