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Windows 7: How to delete old version of Windows?

14 Jun 2010   #1

How to delete old version of Windows?

I thought it would be easy, but nooooooooooo!

My system boots Win7-64 from a C: SSD drive. I have an old copy of Vista-64 on what is now my F: drive but which used to be the Vista-64 C: drive before I added the SSD and upgraded to Win7-64.

When I installed the SSD and Win7-64 I physically disconnected the old C: so I would be able to go back to Vista if I ever needed to. In the 5 months or so since then I have not rebooted Vista one time. So I figured it's time to delete the old Windows folder on F: and reclaim the space it takes.

I renamed it to Windows-xx and verified that I can reboot OK. (Pointless I know...but what can I say?) After rebooting I tried to delete F:\Windows-xx. Not a chance - got messages like "You need permission to perform this action. You need permission from SYSTEM to make changes to this folder."

I tried changing permissions but couldn't do this either. And yes, my Win7-64 system has only one user account (me) with full Admin privileges. Also note that since the old Vista-64 disk was offline when I did a clean install of Win7-64 it did not get renamed to Windows-Old or anything like that. The posts here about removing Windows-Old don't seem to fit my situation.

Now this is not a show-stopper at all; I've got plenty of free space on the F: drive. But I'd just like to get that old Windows off there. Is there some sort of trick to do this?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #2

Windows 10 Pro x64

I'm a little bit confused... what are you trying to do, Format F:\ or physically delete the files?)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #3
Microsoft MVP


Delete partitions in Disk Management console, not using Explorer.

If it blocks you there, then there are boot-critical System files remaining on the partition which need to be recovered into new Win7 partition by marking it Active, booting the Win7 DVD repair console or Repair CD, click through to recovery tools list to run Startup Repair up to 3 separate times to repair or write the MBR to new Win7.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Jun 2010   #4


Thanks, but I do NOT want to format the F: disk or delete its partition because I have a lot of user stuff out there in addition to the old Vista folder and I do not want to lose that or go through the hassle of copying it off and then bringing it back. Actually I can't do that anyway because I have relocated a number of WIN7's files to that drive.

All I want to do is delete the old Vista folder. I have tried the "Take Ownership" registry fix and that does not work. Even after running it and revising ownership on every file in the Vista folder I still can't delete any file or folder there.

And yes, I am totally fine with creating/deleting files in general on that same drive.

My guess is there is something built in to Windows that it uses to protect its own files. Maybe a list of filenames or something like that?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #5

Windows 10 Pro x64

bbinnard... I highly doubt it is possible to do what you want to do. I can only suggest backing up those files and formatting the drive. it is the only way it can be done AFAIK
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Hi bbinard,

The easiest way ( and it has some great extra tools as well ) - d/l the free Pargon Rescue Kit Free Edition -it burns itself to cd.

Boot the cd, select Normal Mode>File Transfer Wizard.

Browse the drive and delete anything you want.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #7


Whoa - that's a strange one. Let me see if I have this straight....

You say Shift+F10 will open a command prompt on top of the normal Win7 install screen. OK, I can do that of course. But starting Notepad and doing File/Save with nothing to save? Won't this just open the standard File Open/Save/Rename dialog box? So I'm supposed to select the old Vista folder in that dialog and do a right-click/delete? And then exit Notepad and reboot from my C: drive?

I get the idea here - what you are suggesting is to bring up a non-Windows OS and trick it into letting me delete what I want. Very clever. I guess this confirms my earlier suspicion that Windows does have some sort of list of protected stuff.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

To avoid Windows restrictions, operate as system - you can do that from winpe - you could knock yourself up a winpe disc with a few tools on it like this for example:

How to delete old version of Windows?-winpe3-small-.jpg

You have to know how to do that, of course, so a simpler way is to get a free premade boot disc - the Paragon Rescue kit has a great file transfer/copy/rename/delete function. It also has an excellent partition undelete and boot corrector.

Paragon Rescue Kit Free Edition

How to delete old version of Windows?-par-resc-kit.jpg

My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #9

Vista 64 Ultimate, Windows 7 64 Ultimate, Ubuntu 9.10

You need to take ownership of the files and folders you want to delete. Open a Command line Start> type cmd and right mouse click to run as administrator, then type the following in the terminal window

F: hit enter

F: Drive opens then type

takeown /f \Windows

You should now be able to go back to C: and

type del F:/Windows*.*

There may be some hidden files along the way that you will be told it cannot delete, notate them as you will have to go into F:/windows and any sub directory and use the attrib command to make them unhidden (if you have never used attrib type attrib help in a terminal session and the command and actions will come up).
Let us know how it goes.........
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2010   #10


Thanks fish, but no joy. "Access denied" is all I get after the del command.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to delete old version of Windows?

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