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Windows Upgrades IT

How To Clean the Cruft Left By a Windows 10 Upgrade 205

MojoKid writes: Microsoft may have given you a free Windows 10 upgrade but it's not without some left over file clutter that some folks don't realize is left on a system after migration. It's not rocket science but there are a few key strategies to tidy up the file bloat an OS migration can sometimes leave behind and to further optimize an upgraded Windows 10 installation. The ability to roll back to your Windows 7 or 8.1 installation within 30 days is a very easily overlooked feature of the Windows 10 upgrade process. The feature is a lifesaver if you encounter issues, such as missing or incompatible drivers, and need to quickly recover without starting from scratch. This ability doesn't come without consequences, though. In order to offer this feature, Windows 10 is essentially keeping another completely separate Windows installation on your PC. This will need to go, once you've determined that you are sticking with Windows 10 and everything seems happy enough. These files are scattered throughout your system and include a number of hidden directories, with the bulk of them located in Windows.old and the hidden $Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS directories.
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How To Clean the Cruft Left By a Windows 10 Upgrade

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  • The easiest way (Score:5, Informative)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @11:37AM (#50603821)

    The easiest way is just don't install this craptastic pile of shit in the first place.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @01:03PM (#50604067)

      First there is an easier way. If you install windows10 then do a system restore (logically, a pointless thing to do right after you install an OS) a side effect is that it wipes out the old Win8. Why do I know this? well as you can imagine I installed windows 10, and then within days got suckered by a trojan (than WinDefender and Norton did not stop) that just ate my system alive. So I did a restore.

      My review of win 10. I'm a diehard mac and linux user who hates windows and said goodbye to it after XP. But then I bought a computer than had windows 8 installed (factory default restored) and figured why not try the free win10 offer. I have to say that while Win10 is, relatively speaking, the best OS microsoft ever made, and is infact not very painful to use, the installation process was truly a lesson in why microsoft products are pure crap.

      The install process took over 8 hours when done without mistakes from a factory install of windows 8 on a screamingly fast i7-3000 series, 8GB, and a 20Gb;sec internet connection. Plus it was not click and wait, but required lots of babysitting, reboots, and even one web search to accomplish. There is no way to go-straight-to-10. Instead you have to walk your system through all the updates of Win8, then install 8,1, then walk it through all the 8.1 updates one of which is not an automatic update, and then finally you can request Win10, a day or so later you get permission to install Win 10. Mine too 164 updates of win8. then another set I lost count of. then a long process to download and install win 8.1. Then about 40 updates of that. At that point it was stuck. Nothing more to do but there was no win 10 install icon. I ran the tool microsoft supplies to guide you through this absurd dance and it told me I was missing some file whose name started with KB. SO I googled that, downloaded it. There was an executable mks file with it so I ran that. When I re-ran the windows tool it once again told me this KB file was not installed. So I re-ran the executable and this time it told me it had already been run. So I was at an impasse. At the time I did not know what a KB file was and the tool wasn't telling me other than that it was missing. Googling I learned this was some update patch. This seemed od to me that 8.1 did not apply this update for me and that I had to download it by hand. But I re-rean the 8.1 updater and this found the file I had downloaded and now updated. At this point I could now request the Win10.

      From that point on things were flawless. Win10 has a nice installer. it lists all the ways it is going to monetize your ass with brief semi-coherent explanations, and gives you the opportunity to opt out. It's really nice of them to ask. However you rapidly lose services if you do. For example Cortana requires you to share your addressbook and browser links and history with Redmond, it won't run stand alone without that. They also explain how they will brand you with an indelible advertiser ID so they can sell you to their friends. But at least they asked me unlike the serfs on the google plantation.

      Here's what's so great about this OS from a mac or linux user. It just gets out of your way. you hardly notice the OS. It looks pretty much exactly like Linux Mint with some of the more handy applets installed. Gone are the crazy panel desktop with tiles filled with crap you never asked for. It's still there but in a much reduced form in the start menu (yep it's back!) and it doesn't get in your way. Infact it's becomes useful in this less dazzling form.

      The bad is that it still has the usual hard to navigate directory structure (e.g. the user files are under C: but the my computer files where programs live is elsewhere). It comes loaded with crapware that tries to trick you into installing it like Norton Utilties or HP's keychain and then informs you after the install that after your free month there will be a charge. And then there's the extreme ability to get rooted when you try to install some code. They

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why didn't you just use the windows media creation tool and skip all of that work?

      • by SlashdotWanker ( 1476819 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @01:15PM (#50604121)
        Why didn't you just use the windows media creation tool and skip all of that work? []
        • Why didn't you just use the windows media creation tool and skip all of that work? []

          Because you cannot run this tool from windows 8, nor even an non-updated windows 8.1

          here's what's at the link you gave:
          System Requirements for Windows 10 ISO:
          Latest OS:
          Make sure you are running the latest version of either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.

          • Just yesterday I did this for a friend on Win 8 (not 8.1). This is how I did it:

            1) Download ISO from here:

            2) Burn ISO to DVD (optional? I downloaded and burned from my Linux system)

            3) Insert DVD into a running Win 8 system, run via autoplay or browse the DVD filesystem and execute setup.exe

            4) Navigate through the prompts and let it do its thing.

            There is an option in the UI to do a "clean" install, where you lose your files and applications. I went this route as the laptop in

            • here's what's at the download instructions say:
              System Requirements for Windows 10 ISO:
              Latest OS:
              Make sure you are running the latest version of either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.

              • Well this is how I did it. The system was running Win 8. Not 8.1. In fact it had arouns 180 updates ready to install. Every time I attempted to install them, something would fail and it would roll back all of the updates.

                As another user just mentioned, apparently the URL I gave will redirect you to the media creation tool if viewed on a windows system.

            • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

              1) Download ISO from here:

              From my experience this page allows to download a .iso if you access it from Linux. When accessing from Windows it redirects to the "media creation tool".

        • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

          Why didn't you just use the windows media creation tool and skip all of that work? []...

          Can you tell me why should I download a program that is supposed just to download a .iso? And can anybody tell me what is it doing when it is "Verifying my download" and why it needs 10 minutes "Creating Windows 10 media" after the network transfer finishes? And if I run it twice, why do I get a different thing every time?

          It does not build much confidence in paranoid people like me.

        • Why didn't you just use the windows media creation tool and skip all of that work? []

          IIRC That tool only works once you've reserved your free upgrade otherwise your key is not properly converted. If you read his post most of his headache was getting to the point where the Windows 10 offer became available and from then on it was pretty much a single click to install windows 10.

      • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus physicist> on Saturday September 26, 2015 @02:11PM (#50604295) Journal

        Am I the only one who finds it funny as hell that the only ones praising Windows 10 are Apple guys while all the Windows and Linux guys think its trash? Why do you think that is?

        I have my own personal theory, its that Apple guys are so used to being wallet raped by Apple that ONLY having to give up their privacy? Sheeeit, that is better than paying out the ass for Apple RAM, Apple NAND, paying current gen prices for last gen's Intel chips, etc. Compared to that level of wallet drain just letting corporate spy on them like an old pervert must feel like a breath of fresh air!

        Of course it may be that they simply haven't tried the niceness that is Windows 7, the last truly good and decent OS it appears that MSFT will ever make. No spying, no crappstore, no worthless Metro crapps that spend more time crashing or phoning home than they actual do their intended function, nope just a nice simple clean OS that does what you tell it to and nothing else...aaaahhhh, like a little slice of heaven it is.

        Oh and just an FYI, if you think those privacy settings will stop MSFT from spying on you and selling your data to anybody with a dollar? Well guess again [], in fact somebody did a traffic analysis of Windows 10 [] and you want to guess who one of the very first recipients of your data is? Well we do a WHOIS of and wadda ya know, its markmonitor [] the copyright trolls! So yes Virginia the old saying is true, if you aren't paying for the product? Then you ARE the product.

        • I'm someone who likes Windows 10, after hating Windows 8.x. I'm not an Apple user - don't use a Mac, although I do have both an iPhone and iPad. Have Windows 10 on both a Winbook w/ just 2GB/32GB, as well as a laptop w/ 4GB/500GB.

          As for privacy, it's dead, and has been for a while now. Compared to the Chinese getting our SS#s after their hack, this is a walk in the park. There is the convenience side of things - the moment I get a new tablet or phone or laptop and simply log in, I almost get everythi

          • Well, the problem for me is that even if you don't want all these conveniences they won't still let you have an OS which doesn't totally spy on you. If all that new crap was optional I wouldn't have a problem with it but you're forced to use many of these new things and pushed hard to use the rest.
          • "As for privacy, it's dead, and has been for a while now." That, sir, is trolling. Basically, 'You aren't completely anonymous, so don't worry about someone snooping your every action.'

          • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

            It is not that privacy is dead. It is more like that a lot of the privacy concerns are overblown.

        • I doesn't make sense to me either. What's in Win 10 that may make a Mac guy like it more than Win 7? That it looks more like a mobile OS? That's the only thing that I can think of.
          To me it's much worse than Win 7
        • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

          MarkMonitor only registers the domain, and it is not uncommon either.

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        Make your kids guest users. Then they can't install any programs without asking you.
      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        I have to say that while Win10 is, relatively speaking, the best OS microsoft ever made

        No it isn't. I tried it out and it was actually even worse than I thought it was gonna be. Obviously there's the whole privacy-invading aspect, but it also just has a really awful UI (at least the desktop version). It's half-mobile, half-Win7 style. And it's the Win7 half that doesn't look like complete crap (monochrome icons, hideous blue/grey/white theme) and it's the Win7 half that will presumably get completely re

    • The easiest way is just don't install this craptastic pile of shit in the first place.

      Steam Hardware and Software Survey August 2015 []

      Linux, All Flavors 0.92%
      Windows 10 64 Bit 16%

      I've yet to see a single stat which suggests that Linux as a desktop OS is gaining any traction whatsoever. Which tells me that its competitors are doing most things right.

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        No, that only proves that its competitors are doing the popular thing. What's popular is usually inane and stupid.

        • What's popular is usually inane and stupid.

          The popularity of Kim Kardashian is undeniable proof that you are correct.

          For additional confirmation, see Kiss (the band), Dr Who, every "boy band" that ever existed, hipsters, and Charlie Sheen.
          (Please note that this list could be much, much longer)

        • No, that only proves that its competitors are doing the popular thing. What's popular is usually inane and stupid.

          The beauty of this argument is that it spares the geek the need to look at the failures of Linux as a desktop OS critically. "Inane and stupid" is, after all, generally a pretty good description of the futile and unpopular.

          • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

            No it doesn't. Perhaps desktop linux has already succeeded: It is a desktop that is perfect for people who actually know what they're doing. The only thing the popular systems have done is create new levels of incompetence and ignorance. The average user has now reached fisherprice levels of aptitude, and it shows. Instead of enabling creativity and intellect like in the 80s and 90s, most of today's cpus spend their time churning javascript from social media sites, ad networks, and content barren sites w

      • by paulatz ( 744216 )
        1% of the desktop is a little, but it is still a huge number of computers. Also, I do not see why we should all use the same operating system, you like your windows, well use it I do not care. If you think of anything else than operating systems all this "windows is better then linux because more people use it in a specific market niche" is absolutely ridiculous. Do you think Ford Escape is better than Ferrari 458 because more people use the Ford? Well, you may be right, but I don't see how the fact that I
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2015 @11:38AM (#50603825)

    I've found that going from version to version in Windows means reliability issues, because stuff remains from previous versions. In fact, pretty much any OS is like this.

    If you want a reliable machine, back the thing up (image backup, so it is easily restored), save all documents, format all drives, install the OS, image the OS (so you have a blank, activated copy to roll back to), reinstall applications, and toss the data back on.

    Major version upgrades always have issues. Only real exception used to be RHEL where an OS "upgrade" was just a point in time of patches, but even this died with the 7.x release.

    • Because there's such a huge change between windows 10 and windows 8?

      If you're that paranoid, do the upgrade then run a refresh. At least then you don't lose all your documents and you end up with an otherwise vanilla windows install. Why would you go through all the hassle of formatting the drive?

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )

      Except when they don't. I upgraded all my machines from 7 to 10 and all of them run faster and better with no problems.

      If you understood how the Windows 10 upgrade actually works, you would see that this is already what they do during the upgrade.

    • My experience has been different. My two machines at home are essentially work machines for me, and as such, have a huge number of development tools, or audio/music tools, both of which together would probably take nearly a week of work to bring back from a clean install. On each machine, there are dozens of programs installed, all of which are important for my work, not to mention a few for entertainment (Steam, etc)

      As such, I decided to try in-place upgrade, and it was absolutely flawless. I've seen ab

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @11:45AM (#50603843) Journal

    Stay with Windows7. You ain't losin' nothin'.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      They would lose all the NSA^H^H^H^H telemetry features!
      Why would you not accept such privilege?
      Got something to hide, citizen?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        No they won't, those are being backported to win 7 and 8.

        • Yup but at least you can remove them from those systems.
          If you're aware of the problem, of course.
          • Until they are snuck in with another update like the Windows 10 installer download was.

    • Losing nothing is the key. I'd have no problem updating every year to keep up to date and supported, even for coin, so long as I didn't lose features that have been commonplace for 20 years.

      Interestingly, it was Windows 7, not Windows 8, that convinced me to stick with XP for so long. The various, minute details of the Aero desktop, control panels, and context menus drove me nuts (and still do after updating this year). Windows 8 was obviously a mistake, but Windows 10 is more or less Windows 7 in extrem

  • by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @11:46AM (#50603851)
    Don't waste your time.
    If you're upgrading from Win7\8\8.1 do an in-place upgrade just to pass your product key on to win10 then format.
    • by fisted ( 2295862 )

      So in order not to waste time, you suggest wasting even more time by installing twice? Uh oh.

      • Trying to clean up the cruft (so tedious) and solving any potential problem(s) or combination thereof by hand is more time consuming than starting from a clean slate.
        If you already have a decently upkept system (like i had) i could agree with you but it is a rare case.
        In fact i almost kept my in place upgrade but then my clean system obsession kicked in.
    • Why? Going from 8.1 to 10 is not much different than installing a service pack. Do you reinstall windows every time a critical patch comes out too?
      You're comparing a 1 hour activity to a 2+ day activity (reinstalling all your software, changing all your settings etc).

      Also you're suggesting a format? Why? So you can clobber all your personal files along with the windows drive? Why not do a system refresh, at least that will leave user documents intact.

  • They self remove (Score:4, Informative)

    by blindbat ( 189141 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @12:23PM (#50603929)
    The old Windows installation will be removed *automatically* after the period of time to roll back ends. No need to do anything.
    • We can verify that after September 29th.

      With 500GB of disk space, I don't have an issue w/ cruft on my laptop. On my Winbook, that just has a 32GB flash drive, it was a different issue. So I took it to the Microsoft store, had them upgrade it (since I was struggling w/ it given the resources, and Microsoft too doubted whether it could be done) and after I got it back, I removed the Windows 8 part of it, since I needed the space.

      One thing where Windows 10 is worse than Windows 8: you can't sha

    • I just tried and found no old version to remove.
    • It gets better. The article is nothing more than a guide on how to run disk cleanup.

  • Sorry but why is a windows feature that has existed since Windows 7 front page Slashdot news? The cruft is removed by running disk cleanup which windows will prompt you to do if your drive space runs low. If you ignore it 30 days later Windows will clean the files up automagically without prompt just like it does with any uninstall information for downloaded windows updates.

    Up next We'll show you how to turn off your computer using only a switch on the wall!

    • MSFT is paying out the a$$ for positive Windows 10 articles and Dice is hurting for teh monies?

      You go to sites like El Reg and accounts that haven't posted shit since they sang the praises of Windows 8 are all waking up like zombies popping out the ground to sing the praises of Windows 10 and attack anybody that disagrees. Its really kinda sad, instead of doing the most obvious and simple solution to the "God Windows Mist8ke sucks donkey nuts" problem and just giving the users what they asked for which was

  • by djbckr ( 673156 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @12:54PM (#50604039)

    This isn't meant to be a troll. Last year I bought a laptop with Windows 8 from Staples as a [cheap-ish] backup computer for my Mac. The *very first* update after turning it on rendered it a brick. Of course it didn't come with a recovery disk, so I decided that I would try Linux Mint on it before taking it back to the store. That was one of the wisest things I've done recently. It works perfectly, and since I don't play games on it (just regular development) it does everything I want/need it to. There are no stability issues at all (though I do shutdown/startup when I close the lid, but I think every Linux has that problem).

    And I don't have to deal with the abomination that is Windows

    • The *very first* update after turning it on rendered it a brick. Of course it didn't come with a recovery disk, so I decided that I would try Linux Mint on it before taking it back to the store.

      You're perpetuating the problem by showing vendors that users tolerate shit that breaks out of the box.

      The best course of action would have been to take it back to get replaced, and then when you get your replacement ask for the cost of the windows licence back (which you're entitled to according to the EULA) and then to install Linux Mint.

      You are sending the wrong message to the vendors which is why we are in this shit to begin with.

  • One cost of Windows 10 is that it will become whatever Microsoft wants it to be in the future; most users will have no ownership. Windows 10 is designed to allow Microsoft complete control over a user's computer whenever it is turned on and connected to the internet.

    Maybe Microsoft wants to imitate Google. Microsoft can use the information collected by Windows 10, apparently, to sell to advertisers. Perhaps Microsoft is also paid by secret U.S. government agencies.

    Google's tracking is extremely widespread because people use numerous Google services rather than software that they own. Google tracks Slashdot users. The Slashdot home page allows Google to track users 3 ways:

    Maybe Microsoft wants to be even more complete about tracking users, to try to take business from Google.

    Windows 10 is not "free" to owners of Windows 7 and 8. Installing Windows 10 means that, after 1 month, owners lose what they bought. If someone offers you a "free" car, but then takes away the car you have now, that is not free. Those who switch to Windows 10 pay a high price for something they cannot evaluate fully in 1 month.

    Microsoft management thinks it is okay to remove features from Windows. For example, those who switch to Windows 10 from Windows 7 and 8 will lose Windows Media Center. Removing features allows Microsoft to ask users to pay for them again in the future.

    Maybe, in the future, Microsoft intends to imitate Adobe Systems. Maybe Windows will eventually become "cloud" software, and users will be expected to pay monthly. Others on Slashdot have suggested that.

    Also, it seems to me that Microsoft is extremely badly managed. I'm not the only one who thinks that. Others called former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Monkey Boy [] and said [] "Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today."

    It seems to me that Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO, is incapable of managing a large corporation. He apparently was picked because of his ability to avoid being involved in conflicts, rather than because he has an ability to resolve conflicts. It seems to me that Nadella does not have the social sophistication necessary to coordinating the company.
    • I would mod you up if I hadn't commented already. I also think Microsoft is trying to become Google. Windows 10 is heavy on user tracking, and it also pushes hard Microsoft's services (Using a local account is made hard on purpose to get you to use a Microsoft account, Bing, Cortana, OneDrive (can't be uninstalled), Skype, Windows Store ...) and it's also an obvious attempt of pushing their mobile ecosystem.
      I wouldn't mind so much if all of this was optional, but must things aren't. I would be fine is the
      • "The PC has stopped being the primary computing device of most people meaning that if they don't make it big on the mobile front they'll be irrelevant in the long run."

        Agreed. But I think Microsoft will not "make it big" with mobile software.

        Products that face low sales because of abuse and foolishness:

        Windows: If you have Windows 7, why get a new version? At some point the version you have is enough. Apparently there aren't any new features in Windows 10 that are attractive to customers. Apparentl
        • Windows 10 may be unattractive to us geeks but regular joes don't seem to care much about all the things we dislike so, sadly, I don't expect Microsoft to change direction.
          I also agree that most software is good enough by now but that's one of the reasons they're trying to move to selling subscriptions (Office 365, extra space on OneDrive, etc.). Also, we can't keep using Win 7 forever because eventually new hardware and software will stop being compatible with it. A new version of Win 7 is exactly what I
    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      Funny. PrivacyBadger seems to be blocking those Google domains for me automatically...
  • "The ability to roll back to your Windows 7 or 8.1 installation within 30 days is a very easily overlooked feature of the Windows 10 upgrade process. The feature is a lifesaver if you encounter issues"

    Is there a straightforward way of cloning the Windows system to another harddrive such as this Linux command-line utility: dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb ..
  • Use Cleanup Manager (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stereoroid ( 234317 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @05:34PM (#50604903) Homepage Journal

    Open Administrator Command Prompt

    > cleanmgr /sageset
    Tick every option, then OK

    > cleanmgr /sagerun
    Go away and have a cup of tea.

    • Easier solution:

      Get on with your life. If you run out of disk space you'll be prompted to click a message that does all that for you.

  • 1) Install Linux
    2) Problem Solved!

    I couldn't find this exact post, and Slashdot is contractually obligated to host it (with this wording) in any Windoze "solve a problem" thread. Mods can thank me later!

  • "Cleaning" anything in Windows can be dangerous, whether that's just your registry, or the OS. Cleaning methods sometimes snag items that aren't really trash, leading to an unstable operating system.

    Are you really using so much space on your hard drive that you feel the need to clean house? Just leave it alone, unless you're prepared to wipe the hard drive and start over.

  • I'm running a laptop with a sandybridge i5 and an optimus setup and both video card drivers load and then before the login screen appears they error out and give error code 39. I have a machine at work that is doing the same thing and it has an nforce chipset with a nvidia 8xxx series chip. The current solution is the #1) never reboot, and #2) when windows forces you to reboot, simply reboot and uninstall the drivers after windows loads without deleting the drivers. The rescan the hardware from the device m

  • and checking a couple of boxes? To do something that hasn't changed since at least 7?

    That seems almost as ridiculous a waste of time as all the "wipe the drive and install linux. Derp!" crap.

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