3 Ways to Downgrade Windows 10 & Rollback to Windows 7 or 8.1 Indefinitely

Tina Sieber 12-07-2016

Upgrading to Windows 10 is a risk. Whether you’ve done it to secure a free Windows 10 copy Act NOW to Keep Your Windows 10 Upgrade Free After July 29 Microsoft has confirmed that the free Windows 10 upgrade will expire. After July 29, a Windows 10 license will cost $119. We show you how to become eligible to install Windows 10 for free, even... Read More or were upgraded forcefully 5 Unintended Consequences of Windows 10 Upgradegate Microsoft is ruining everything with Windows 10. The upgrade disaster has unintended consequences for Microsoft and its customers. We talk about how Microsoft's tactics violate user trust and decreases security, among other issues. Read More , we share three tricks that will help you downgrade right now or sometime in the future.


We have previously covered how to downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 Windows 10 is here and maybe it's not what you expected. If you already upgraded, you can perform a rollback. And if you haven't yet, create a system backup first. We show you how. Read More , which included using a full disk image, the best solution by far. In this article, we’ll expand on Windows 10’s native rollback feature and introduce two more options, including one that will save you if your upgrade failed.

1. Roll Back With Native Recovery Tools

Whenever you upgrade Windows 10 or initiate a fresh installation from within Windows, a copy of your old installation is stored in the Windows.old folder Free Up Disk Space by Removing Windows.old Folder Windows prepares an automatic backup before you re-install. The Windows.old folder includes user profiles and personal files. Here's how to restore the data and remove the folder to free up space. Read More . This automatic backup is your return ticket to your previous Windows version.

Windows Old Folder

To roll back using the native Windows 10 recovery tool, press Windows key + I to launch the Settings app, then head to Update & Security > Recovery. Click the Get started button under Go back to Windows 7 or Go back to Windows 8.1.

windows 10 recovery


The rollback option via Windows.old is available for a maximum of 30 days. If you no longer see the option shown above, you either passed the 30-day limit since your initial upgrade to Windows 10 or you installed a newer version of Windows, in which case the respective header will read Go back to an earlier build.

The Windows.old backup is replaced with a fresh backup for every major Windows update. For example, if you upgrade to Windows 10 on July 28 and then install the Anniversary Update Windows 10 Anniversary Update Due in July & These Are Its Best Features You will love the Windows 10 Anniversary Update! The second big upgrade to Windows 10 since its launch in July 2015 is expected this summer. Here we highlight the most exciting features. Read More on August 2, you will only be able to downgrade from Windows 10 version 1608 to Windows 10 version 1511.

However, if you plan ahead, you can keep your Windows 7 or 8.1 downgrade option available for a lot longer.

How to Expand the 30-day Rollback Limit

This trick only works if the downgrade option is still available; check your Recovery options in the Settings app as described above. If you can still roll back, head to File Explorer (Windows key + F) and under This PC go to your system drive (typically C:).


First, we have to make some hidden folders visible. Select the View tab and click Options to access the Folder Options window. Here, switch to the View tab, check Show hidden files, folders, and drives, and uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended). Click Apply to save your changes and OK to close the window.

Windows 10 Folder Settings Marked

Now you should see at least two of the following folders on your system drive (among many others):

C:\$Widnows.~WS (we didn’t see this one on an updated version of Windows 10)

Include all of these folders in the following steps.


When 30 days have passed since your upgrade or last major update, Windows runs a scheduled task 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler Your time is too valuable to be wasted with repetitive tasks. Let us show you how to automate and schedule tasks. We have a few great examples, too. Read More to clear these folders. You could disable the scheduled task The Windows 10 Task Scheduler Gives You More Power The Task Scheduler automatically executes events in the background. In Windows 10, Battery Saver mode modifies the Task Scheduler to use less energy. We'll show you how to take advantage of this feature and more. Read More or expand the time frame, but the safer route is to back up or rename these folders because that will also prevent Windows from overwriting them during the next version update. For example, you could add the upgrade date or the Windows version they contain to the folder name.

Windows Old Backup

Once you would like to downgrade, place the folders back in the system drive or restore their original name (if Windows created new folders with new backups in the meantime, rename or move those first), then go to the Recovery section in the Settings app, and you should be able to roll back to the Windows version you preserved.

Page Start instructs to also back up the next major updates and not let the Task Scheduler erase them. Else, Windows won’t give you the option to downgrade, even if you backed up the folders from your initial upgrade. Page Start also describes an alternative way (part #4) to roll back if you backed up the folders but the downgrade option won’t show. Or you could use the tool described below.


2. Use Windows 10 Rollback Utility

This tool from NeoSmart offers a one-click restore process to reverse a failed, partial, or accidental upgrade to Windows 10 How You Could Have Upgraded to Windows 10 by Accident & What to Do Windows 10 was accidentally auto-installed on Windows 7 and 8.1 machines without user consent. Microsoft apologized for the mistake. We analyze the events and show you once more how to NOT get Windows 10. Read More . The 196 MB ISO file can be used to create a bootable USB flash drive Create a Bootable USB From an ISO With These 10 Tools Want to create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file? We've got the ten best bootable USB pendrive creators around. Read More (or CD) and thus works even if Windows won’t boot anymore.

Apart from letting you downgrade to your previous Windows version, provided the required recovery folders are in place, Windows 10 Rollback also offers basic recovery tools, including an automatic repair, a virus scanner, a tool to browse and back up your files, a partition editor, and an internet browser.

Note that Windows 10 Rollback relies on the recovery folders created by Windows, meaning the rollback feature will only work for 30 days past your upgrade. However, NeoSmart told BetaNews that their tool will recognize previously backed up recovery folders, even if Windows 10 won’t. Do restore the original folder name before you try this.

3. Know Your Downgrade Rights

Certain OEM versions of Windows come with the right to downgrade to a previous Windows version. If you’re running Windows 10 Professional, you have the right to downgrade to Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Professional.

Windows Downgrade Rights

This doesn’t mean the downgrade option comes built-in with Windows, but it does mean you can legally install an older version of Windows on your device. As an end user, you must satisfy the following conditions to be eligible for the downgrade:

  1. Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows software.
  2. Accept the Microsoft Software License Terms.
  3. Perform the downgrade process to the eligible downgrade product using the media/key from a genuine, previously licensed OEM or retail product.

The catch is that you need a product key for the Windows version you would like to downgrade to. If you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8.1, that won’t be a problem. You can use ShowKeyPlus to reveal the product key of your original Windows version. With the product key in hand, you can download a Windows ISO installation How to Download Official Windows ISO Files Free from Microsoft You can download Windows installation files free from Microsoft. We'll show you a hack that allows you to download ISO files for any edition of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 from Microsoft's Tech... Read More file free and legally from Microsoft How to Legally Download Windows Installation Files for Free Windows can get seriously broken. What you often need to do is to install it from scratch. And we show you how to get legal installation files for Windows 7 through 10. Read More and proceed to install Windows from scratch.

If you bought a computer that came with Windows 10, you will have to obtain a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key before you can make use of your downgrade right. You could either use the product key from an old computer or buy a (used) copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 How to Get a Cheap Windows 7 or 8 License Now to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free Worried about the future of your old or pirated Windows copy? Now is the time to snatch a cheap Windows 7 or 8 license to secure yourself that free upgrade to Windows 10. We show... Read More online.

This right to downgrade to an older Windows version expires with the end of extended support Why to Upgrade Windows at the End of Extended Support Eventually, support for every Windows version expires, leaving PCs full of holes, entry points for malware, and opportunities for hackers. Windows 8 recently reached end of support status - we show you why and how... Read More  for that version.

Down Down Deeper and Down

We understand that Windows 10 doesn’t suit everyone 8 Annoying Windows 10 Issues & How to Fix Them The upgrade to Windows 10 has been smooth for most, but some users will always encounter issues. Whether it's a flashing screen, network connectivity issues, or battery drain, it's time to resolve these problems. Read More and not every issue can be fixed The Best Free Windows 10 Repair Tools to Fix Any Problem If you're running into system problems or rogue settings, you should use these free Windows 10 repair tools to fix your PC. Read More . But before you downgrade prematurely, give Windows 10 a chance Are You a Windows 10 Upgrade Refugee? Do This First! Did Microsoft just upgrade your computer to Windows 10? Since February, Windows 10 is being pushed as a Recommended update on Windows 7 and 8.1 computers. This is what you can do after you've been... Read More and try these Windows 10 features 5 Last Things to Try Before Downgrading from Windows 10 Are you ready to abandon Windows 10? While it's simple to downgrade to your previous Windows version, hold off doing so just yet - we've rounded up features you must have tried before rolling back. Read More to improve your experience. If it still doesn’t work for you, know that you can get some of the best Windows 10 features on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Get the Best Windows 10 Features on Windows 7 and 8 Do you admire some of the tricks Windows 10 can do, but would rather stay with your old Windows version? We have compiled 8 tools that can bring the best Windows 10 features to your... Read More .

What made you upgrade to and then downgrade from Windows 10? What could have made you stay with Windows 10? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments!

Related topics: Software Licenses, Windows 10, Windows Upgrade.

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  1. Roger a Munn
    May 6, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Windows 10 is the worst piece of garbage ever . The bugs are terrible , things quit all the time , every time i open the laptop with pre loaded windows ten home something else is wrong . My email passwords were changed and now cant update them on windows ten . It just wont do it . every program i use has quit at one time or another , its terrible slow , has too much added garbage , i spend more time looking for fixes for stuff that worked yesterday that i cant get anything done today . Many times i thought about throwing the laptop in the trash . Guess ill end up buying a copy of windows 7 and paying someone to erase it and load windows 7 . Thank god i still have a MAC to actually get some work done .

  2. Mike
    January 22, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Well, all good accept downgrading isn't perhaps the best term.
    Due to win 10 creator update and number of issues namely linked to gaming.
    I.e. WOT want load, game pad doesnt have a driver available,etc.
    And some posts of microsft online hlp like rebuild your steam cache, contact software developer and get them to fix their program... Like seriously, many others to do changes cos of win update? That sounds a bit unreasonable.
    Now win7 shall still support all my gaming needs so its more like an upgrade....

    • Tina Sieber
      January 23, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      I agree, Mike. Microsoft should make sure things coninue working or make it easy for manufacturers and software vendors to adapt their products before it rolls out massive changes to Windows. Not much we can do, I'm afraid. I guess you could delay major Windows 10 upgrades for as long as possible and hope any issues are solved before you're forced to upgrade. Good luck!

  3. P Parameswaran
    July 3, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I bought a laptop with windows 10 loaded; but it is extremely slow as I had earlier laptop whose spead is far better; by the by, I have quadcore which is slow compared to i3; now i want toswitch over to windows 7 which may suit this

  4. JP Stanzioni
    November 8, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    My computer freezes all the time at random. Also, if I try to change the energy settings it will automatically not respond.
    This is the worse OS I've had and Windows 7 will probably get obsolete soon. I will downgrade to Windows 7, but I don't know for how long I'll be able to run it :(

    • Tina Sieber
      November 10, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Windows 7 will be good until 2020. That's when extended support ends and that's when you need to have an alternative ready. Three more years for an Android desktop OS or a Linux distro to capture the mainstream market. Bigger things have been accomplished in less time...

  5. jyotsana sahu
    September 25, 2016 at 5:44 am

    My WiFi key is stuck with airplane mode and not letting to connect WiFi

    • Tina Sieber
      September 27, 2016 at 11:02 am

      I think you left this comment on the wrong article.

  6. renee
    September 2, 2016 at 3:26 am

    I cant use my flashdrives like I used to. I use them very often, I want to plug it in an see it in computer list like before not through media player. I also want to find my control panel and my documents like before not have to search all over for them.

    • Tina Sieber
      September 27, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Renee, did you leave this comment on the wrong article? This one is about rolling back from Windows 10.

      What you're describing is auto play for your flash drive. You can turn that off or change what (automatically) happens when you plug in the flash drive.

  7. jaidynhayden995
    July 13, 2016 at 11:03 am


  8. Anonymous
    July 13, 2016 at 3:31 am

    I am a Windows 10 preview insider. I wish to roll back to Windows 7 or 8.1. After I rollback, will I still be eligible for free Windows 10 update even after 29 July, the deadline Microsoft has set for Windows 10 upgrade ?

    • Tina Sieber
      July 13, 2016 at 4:30 am

      Yes Digesh. Once you installed Windows 10 on your device, you've secured the Digital Entitlement for that piece of hardware, meaning you will be able to install Windows 10 for free after July 29. When you do install it again, it should activate automatically. But remember, the Digital Entitlement is tied to the motherboard and you can't transfer that license to another device.

      • Anonymous
        July 13, 2016 at 4:39 am

        Thank you Tina. I searched for this online but couldn't find a concrete answer. Thank you for clearing this doubt for me.