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Clean install of Win7 - Windows.old and old Program Files?


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#1 Orca239

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 09:49 PM

Hello there! Pardon the long-windedness, but there are multiple questions, so the description is necessary.

I had Vista on my laptop and got Win7 today and finally installed it after buying an external hard drive and moving all my stuff over to it. I went with the clean (or "custom") install because I wanted to clean out all the junk and just keep what I had backed up.

The first problem I had was finding that there were two partitions on the machine - the regular one and the Recovery one (which, I assume, was placed there by the manufacturer). I didn't know whether the recovery partition was an image of the clean install of Vista or if it was some other form of recovery, so I left it. I moved on to installing on the regular partition, thinking it would wipe it or format it or whatever like I had always heard (I didn't manually format the drive since I got an upgrade license of Win7 and heard that you had to have an existing install of Vista or XP for it to activate... so I didn't want to take the chance of it not working).

So, yay, it's finally installed and all. However, there's a folder in C called "Windows.old", which apparently contains the entirety of my old files (including Program Files and such), and the files and folders that were in C previously are still there. :huh:

So my questions are as follows:
Are the programs still installed (they don't show up in the control panel's "Uninstall a Program", but I want to make sure)?
Is the old registry stuff still there? I don't want to deal with old registry errors and such that I was hoping to wipe out.
Can I just delete the whole "Windows.old" folder to safely recover all my hard drive space that it's taking up?

Also, should I have left that Recovery partition there? What should I do with that in the future? Should I be making some sort of image of the clean install of the OS or something?
Should I have (and could I safely have) just formatted the regular partition before installing the OS (even though it was an upgrade license)?

Thanks for any info and help!

Edited by Orca239, 24 October 2009 - 09:54 PM.


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#2 Romeo29

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 06:47 AM

If you choose to perform custom install of Windows 7 on the same drive which previously had earlier version of Windows (XP, Vista etc), then Windows.old folder is created. It contains files from the previous Windows installation, typically the folders Windows, Documents and Settings, Program Files.

This is done because you are installing Windows 7 over an earlier version of Windows, and setup wants to make a backup of important files for you. So that if you later realize, that you lost your pictures, saved game files, software licenses etc. then you can look for them in windows.old. If you don't need any file in windows.old, then you can happily delete the folder. But have a look at it first, you might find some needed files.

Are the programs still installed ? Is the old registry stuff still there?

No and No

Can I just delete the whole "Windows.old" folder to safely recover all my hard drive space that it's taking up?

Yes. but have a look at it first

Also, should I have left that Recovery partition there? What should I do with that in the future?

Recovery partition is for making a recovery backup. Your system manufacturer must have supplied you with some kind of recovery software cd. You should read the system manual on how to make recovery backup. Now that you have Windows 7 fresh installed, its time to make a recovery backup (yes yes, factory settings :huh: )

#3 AdamV

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 11:41 AM

If you are 100% happy you don't need anything from there, you can delete it. Certainly any programs, registry entries, profiles or anything else in there will nto affect your current installation of Windows 7, they are all just data files now.

Check that you have your documents, media, and things like browser favourites (heck, just copy the whole of your Firefox profile to retain all those saved passwords too).

Note that the windows.old folder is usually pretty huge, and made lots worse if you had a lot of offline folder stuff synched, as the old CSC folder will still be in there too.
Have a read of this blog post about Windows 7 and the CSC folder for more info.
Due to global warming, eskimos now have more than 20 words for water John O'Farrell

Professional geek, consultant and trainer.
MCT, MCSA, MMI, MBMSS, CWNA, COS (I like to have lettuce after my name)
My personal blog - Getting IT right

#4 Orca239

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 01:02 AM

Thanks much for the replies, and sorry for the late reply... I wanted to wait a while to make sure I didn't need anything else out of that folder.

I successfully deleted all but two files in the Windows.old folder. One is sfi.dat in Windows.old > Windows > system32 > drivers
It says I need administrator permission (I am the admin account), so I give it permission when the dialog comes up (with the blue and yellow shield on it). Then another dialog comes up saying I don't have permission, and I have Try Again and Cancel as options.

The other file is a Favorites, and it says the file name is too long for the chosen directory when I try to delete it. I tried renaming the file but it won't let me. All I can do when I right-click it is Print and Send To. I can't even click Properties to find the file type (but i assume its a shortcut). The name of the file is so long, it's off the screen and I can't scroll over to read it (not that it would help).

Any ideas? Thanks!

#5 AdamV

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 03:44 AM

can you browse inside favourites, then inside that and so on till you get to the last folder or file and then delete that?

alternatively you could delete it from the command line using rd /s (to remove the whole tree).

make sure you are at the right directory first!!

so something like:
start > (type command) > command is found in search, hit enter or double click

cd /
rd /s windows.old
Due to global warming, eskimos now have more than 20 words for water John O'Farrell

Professional geek, consultant and trainer.
MCT, MCSA, MMI, MBMSS, CWNA, COS (I like to have lettuce after my name)
My personal blog - Getting IT right

#6 Romeo29

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 07:13 AM

Open an elevated command prompt in Windows 7 :
1. Click on Start Menu.
2. In the search box type cmd.
3. You would see cmd.exe appear in the list.
4. Right-click on cmd.exe in the list and select Run as administrator.

Type the following command to take ownership of the windows.old folder :
takeown /F c:\windows.old /R /D Y

I am assuming the full path of the folder is c:\windows.old

#7 Orca239

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 09:22 AM

I managed to get the Favorites file deleted, thanks!

When I try to run that command in cmd for taking ownership, I get the following output:

C:\Windows\system32>takeown /F c:\windows.old /R /D Y

SUCCESS: The file (or folder): "c:\windows.old" now owned by user "Amethyst\Owne
r".

SUCCESS: The file (or folder): "c:\windows.old\Windows" now owned by user "Ameth
yst\Owner".

SUCCESS: The file (or folder): "c:\windows.old\Windows\System32" now owned by us
er "Amethyst\Owner".

SUCCESS: The file (or folder): "c:\windows.old\Windows\System32\drivers" now own
ed by user "Amethyst\Owner".

INFO: Access is denied. ( "c:\windows.old\Windows\System32\drivers\sfi.dat" )

Still unable to delete that file.




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