How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1

Joe Keeley 03-08-2015

Windows 10 combines the best of Microsoft’s previous operating systems and combines them into one ultimate package. If you opted in to the free upgrade Windows 10 Upgrade - Free Doesn't Mean It Won't Cost Anything There's a catch to the free Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft understands its audience all too well; they are more likely to pay for the freedom of control, rather than for extra features. Read More  and have changed your mind after running Windows 10 for a few days, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s easy to roll back.


Don’t worry if you didn’t consider this before you upgraded. Microsoft has made it easy to change back to your previous operating system for a limited period. But there are other options too, meaning if you really don’t like the Windows 10 experience, you’re not stuck with it permanently.

If you’re thinking of rolling back to Windows 7 or 8.1, please drop into the comments section afterwards to let us know why and which method you’ll be using.

Back Up Before You Downgrade

You should do this before upgrading to Windows 10. It’s incredibly important that you always back up your system before making any major change. Although some of the processes outlined below should keep your data in tact, nothing is ever definite and it’s not worth taking the risk.


If you have backed up recently and your data hasn’t changed much since, it could just be a case of copying over a few extra files. If you need to do a full backup, check out our guide on the safest ways to backup 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More . I recommend something like CrashPlan for the future because it’ll take regular backups of your system, which is a practice you should follow anyway.


Also, make sure you’re not backing up to the same drive that the operating system is installed on. This might mean you’ll have to use an external hard drive or online cloud storage, but a backup is not secure if it’s sitting in the same place as your original data.

Built-in Downgrade Option

When upgrading from a previous version of Windows to 10, your old operating system files will be stored in a folder called Windows.old. This can be removed to free up space 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 , but its existence means that rollback is easy.

Windows 10 has a built-in feature that allows you to go back to your old operating system. The caveat is that this option is only available for one month after you’ve upgraded. If that time has passed, check out some of the other options available below.

windows 10 recovery


To get started, press Windows Key + I to bring up the Settings menu. Click Update & security and then select Recovery from the left-hand navigation. Here you will see a header called Go back to Windows X (dependent on what version you were on before). Click Get started.

A window will open to ask while you’re going back to an old version. Fill this in and continue to click Next, noting the prompts and information like not unplugging your system during the process. The rollback will then begin, during which you won’t be able to use your system.

Windows 7

You might have to reinstall some programs or alter a couple of settings to get things back to how they were previously, but overall you should find it a quick and easy process.


Reinstall Your Previous Windows Version

Another method you could opt for is to do a fresh install Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Ever wanted to reset Windows 7 without losing personal data? Between a factory reset and a reinstall, it was tough. Since Windows 8, we have two new options: Refresh and Reset. Which one is right... Read More of your old operating system. This will wipe everything on your drive, meaning the backup of personal data mentioned earlier is a required step before proceeding with this solution.

If you’ve got the previous Windows version on physical media, like a disc or USB drive, put it into your computer. If you don’t have a physical version then you can create one direct from Microsoft thanks to their Windows 7 Software Recovery and Windows 8.1 Installation Media. We have previously explained in detail how to created bootable Windows installation media How to Make a Bootable CD/DVD/USB to Install Windows Need installation media to reinstall Windows? Our tips show you how to create a bootable CD, USB, or DVD with an ISO from scratch. Read More .


Then restart your system and look for the message that’ll read something like “press F12 to choose boot device”. The message and key might vary – F10 and Esc are common alternatives. You can tap the key multiple times to make sure it’s registered.


You’ll then see a menu that will list all of the bootable devices to choose from. Use the arrow keys to select the one which corresponds to the media you just put in and then press Enter. Then follow the installation wizard, ensuring to select a custom install if prompted – this means you want to do a completely fresh install. You’ll be asked for your product license key, which can be found on the installation media (if Windows was purchased separately), or usually on a sticker on the device or with the PC’s documentation (if Windows came with the machine).

From a Drive Image

This one will only be applicable if you prepared ahead before upgrading to Windows 10. That is, if you have an image of your drive How to Create & Mount Disc Images on a Virtual Drive Do you still have CDs or DVDs lying around? When an optical disc breaks, it's gone forever. We show you how to make digital and playable backups of your CDs and DVDs now! Read More  you can just restore that. An image is a complete copy of what’s on a drive, which includes personal data as well as the operating system’s files.


A drive image can be created in Windows 7 and 8.1 using the System Image utility (do a system search to find it), which can then be stored on external media. To restore from this in Windows 10, press Windows Key + I, click Update & security, then select Recovery. Underneath Advanced start-up, click Restart now and follow the prompts to restore from your drive image.

Again, this only works if you did an image of your drive before upgrading to Windows 10. If you didn’t, use one of the other options listed above. It’ll also wipe any data you created since making the drive image, so be sure to back up where necessary.

Roll Right Back

Microsoft is hoping everyone will love Windows 10, especially since it’s the last version of Windows The Latest Windows 10 Version Won't Be the Last One What is the latest Windows 10 version? How long is it supported? And why did Microsoft switch to a service model? Answers within! Read More , but that might not be the case. Thankfully, it’s easy to downgrade to your preferred version, regardless of whether you planned ahead before upgrading.

Remember, Microsoft’s rollback feature in Windows 10 will only be available for 30 days after you upgraded, so do it sooner rather than later if you want to use the easiest method.

Are you considering rolling back from Windows 10 or have you already? What didn’t you like about Microsoft’s new operating system?

Related topics: Data Backup, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Upgrade.

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  1. M Noman Khan
    October 25, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I have to work on softwears like Engineer V2.1 and sematic for seimenc but in windows 10 i am sick to install these softwears and this the reason why i want to go back on windows 7. Wnidows10 is very good no doubt and i like it but i cant keep it just because of my field working.

  2. michael
    October 4, 2016 at 12:22 am

    defects with the screen saver. The oinly way to exit the screen save is "control, alt, delete" then "cancel"

  3. Nelson
    August 22, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I have had serious Win 10 issues since we installed it on my brand new Dell laptop that came inbuilt with Ubunt Linux. While no Linux or Windows earlier versions have ever caused even slight trouble to me (I know... I'm super fortunate there), Windows 10 fresh install started it since Day 1. I finally try to evade it and there it locks the MAC (NIC Card) address and won't let go of the laptop. Now my laptop gets wasted. I can't downgrade and install even a legitimate enterprise Windows 8.1 license.

    Microsoft rocks when i t comes to being a pain to its faithful customers. I wonder how they do it!

    @Emily : Not sure if you've already purchased your laptop. I just saw your message. If you haven't yet, please consider buying a blank or DOS version. That way you can install the Windows of your choice. Windows 10 will be a problem, I assure you. We have faced similar issues with 5 laptops already in our organization.

  4. Anonymous
    August 3, 2016 at 4:46 am

    I want to downgrade from Windows 10. But when I try to change the product key, it don't let me.

  5. George Conte
    August 3, 2016 at 4:35 am

    I got a PC that came preinstalled with Windows 10. I purchased a product key for Windows 8. When I tried to change the product key but it said I was already running a genuine version of Windows and wouldn't let me downgrade. What do I do?

  6. Anonymous
    July 22, 2016 at 2:05 am

    Just wanted to
    I have helped people "who cannot afford" computing, refurbish old systems donated by schools, they help me a lot.

  7. Russell G Hammond
    May 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    I have downgraded my Windows 10 on my main computer. I seem to remember a saying that goes something like this: If a piece of commercial product is given as free it is the RECIPIENT who is the real product. When I inspected the OS eula I didn't like the rights to privacy I was giving away. It seemed to me Microsoft was stating that any information it collected via the operating system was theirs to use in any way they saw fit, in essence if not expressly stated. Luckily I saved my original factory restore partition as an image and also made the restore disks.I actually liked the operating system and agree it comprises the best from previous versions of Windows but it also leverages the web too heavily. I've seen too many web enterprises come and go with no notice given. For example think of all of the cloud storage startups that have failed and gone extinct. I think it is much more secure to store your data on a physical drive you have sole possession of. Layer this reason with the recent problems with Win 10 intermittantly not loading all things correctly on each boot, I decided to first reinstall my previous Windows 7. If that proves to be unsatifactory at some future time, I will completely switch over to Linux: which I have used for a second bootable operating system for many years.

  8. Emily
    April 30, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    I have a question I haven't seen the answer to anywhere, and I'm desperate to know. I'm about to buy a new laptop with Windows 10 installed, but I don't like or want Windows 10. I'd like to take it off and replace it with Windows 7, but I don't know how to do this, and everything I can find online is about going back on an older computer, rather than on a brand new one that comes with 10. Does anyone have any information on how to do this?

  9. shay
    March 28, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    windows 10 is evil, it installed without permission and destroyed my 7 activation key, i uninstalled it and the machine wouldn't start so i had to reinstall. now im ......,

    • Anonymous
      August 3, 2016 at 4:47 am

      Windows 10 is evil!

  10. Richard Romig
    March 8, 2016 at 12:44 am

    Moving back to Windows 7 because it seems to be more stable (with Microsoft operating systems, stability is a very relative term). 10 began flaking out after accidentally going into sleep mpde. It looks like I'll be transferring my data the old fashioned way by manually copying the data from one drive to another.

  11. h0tr0d
    January 21, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    I am currently running Windows 10, but have another PC running Windows 7. Is there a way to move all my stuff from the Windows 10 to the Windows 7 PC ? Im really more concerned about Thunderbird mail/browser settings, etc. as I could move all my files and pics manually.

  12. Daxs Martinez
    January 1, 2016 at 5:49 am

    What if the 30 days already passed, but the option its still showing, it is safe to use?
    if i want to do a fresh install, how i do to keep the license of the windows.

  13. Anonymous
    October 26, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Found this tutorial on doing the downgrade without losing any programs / files. It works after 30 days, too:

    Hope this helps!

  14. Anonymous
    October 10, 2015 at 5:55 am

    I have setup and upgraded windows 7 to windows 8.1. When I had installed windows 8.1 there was a option total hard drive clean and install. I have done this option. For this reason My all partition has gone and total disk was formated. My all documents has gone. I want to back these files and documents. What should I do Please help me

  15. Anonymous
    August 30, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I tied to roll back to Windows 7 and it totally crashed my PC. I have moved countries and left all my license disks in South Africa. What to do?

  16. Anonymous
    August 27, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Is there any way to go from Win10 to Win7 if I was previously using 8.1? I really don't like either of the recent ones but I never had many problems when using windows 7.

    • Tina Sieber
      September 4, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Do you have the professional edition of Windows 8.1? If you do, you can legally downgrade to Windows 7. Otherwise, I'd recommend to get a cheap Windows 7 license.

      • Anonymous
        September 29, 2015 at 5:33 am

        How do we downgrade exactly?

  17. Anonymous
    August 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I received the Windows 10 notification, installed it through the registration and at 1st it was ok, but it really sucks now, windows won't stay where I put them, I have 2 displays, each boot I have to reset them up to be extended. Yesterday everything went to greyscale, today I lost both printers, this is REALLY BAD!!
    So I went to settings to downgrade, found where to do it, clicked on it and it said I couldn't downgrade because the file that allowed it have been removed! I didn't remove any file, didn't do a disk cleanup, now what?

    • Anonymous
      August 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      It seems that Windows 10 doesn't like my Win 7 Backup Image either. It says it's not the same environment, WTF! So much for MS Great technology! Now I am FORCED into a new install.THIS SUCKS!!!

      • Tina Sieber
        September 4, 2015 at 9:25 am

        Sorry to hear about your trouble, Joe. What you can do is install Windows 7 from scratch, then try to run the backup image. I know it's a waste of time, but at least you'll get your old setup back.

  18. Anonymous
    August 17, 2015 at 9:49 am

    OK. I have found the option under "system recovery" , but nothing happens..

  19. Anonymous
    August 17, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Where do I find the "simple to find" Roll Right Back option?
    Windows 10 is slowing down all other software. I immediately want to go back to Windows 7.

  20. Anonymous
    August 15, 2015 at 7:34 am

    It doesn't show me Go back to Windows 7, I am using windows 10 from 14 days but it doesn't show to me. I'm with Win10 Pro

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Do you have a Windows.old folder on your system drive? Did you do a Disk Cleanup by any chance?

  21. Anonymous
    August 14, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    When I heard the news about the coming of Win 10, I think I was one of the impatient guys who though didn't sign up for the technical Preview edition, for the reason I knew the OS wouldn't trusted that much.
    Then 29th came and the whole world started buzzing with Win 10 update and release news. I initially tried skipping the queue with the Microsoft Media Tool Creation but was met with too much booting error that I had to give up trying again. I later tried a force update with command prompt on a different machine running windows 8.1 and got the update eventually earlier than normal while my main pc is still waiting for upgrade confirmation though I have reserved a copy long ago.
    After a few clicks through the OS, I realised I won't be in much hurry to upgrade my other main machine at all. Everything that I love about windows 8.1 has been taken away:
    My Charms Are gone and it hurts in a confusing way to navigate the OS in general;
    Everything about the hype is all for nothing but crap

  22. Anonymous
    August 12, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I installed Windows 10 and really wish I hadn't. It took 2 hours (when I looked at the event log later, I found that it had failed 3 times before it hooked on) and initially I was quite impressed because I've just switched to a Windows phone and the similarity and ease of operating felt quite comforting. And then the problems started. Lots of the apps loaded on the start screen didn't work - most notably, the file explorer! The phone connection app also didn't work - just got a blue screen and those mesmerising little dots going round in a circle. I thought maybe I could live with this and maybe future upgrades might fix these glitches - but then........ the whole system became unstable - some things that didn't work initally started to work and those that did start off ok then nosedived. When it booted, I got lots of rapidly changing screens (black, then Windows start screen, black then Windows log on screen, repeat ad nauseum) and I had to hit return a good few times to get to a screen that would stay on and do something. I ended up worrying so much that the whole thing was going to crash and disappear that after 2 days I went back to Windows 7.1. Most things are ok following the rollback, although my file explorer is pointing to some other location entirely with the result that I can't find any of my files......[sad face].... the whole experience has been irritating, messy, disappointing and frustrating.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Having had an incredibly smooth experience with Windows 10 on three different devices, upgrading and downgrading several times throughout the preview phase and on July 29, it pains me to read such devastating reports. I wish I had gone through this to be able to report on it. Sorry for your troubles Pearl and thank you for sharing!

      Could you just let us know one thing: Did you upgraded after receiving a notification via the Get Windows 10 app or did you "force" the upgrade in some way?

      • Anonymous
        August 16, 2015 at 9:28 pm

        I registered for the notification. Really wish I hadn't.

  23. Anonymous
    August 8, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    At first glance, after upgrading to Windows 10, I was happy with the process and the ease of installing. Then I was unhappy that passwords or passcode was required. The first problem out of the box was losing my audio. Obviously by the number of complaints it is a major problem of which Microsoft has not addressed in any forum I looked into. I finally found the solution by an outside source changing the bit rate and Hz rate to 24bit, 47,100 Hz which brought back my sound.

    Then, for no apparent reason, or anything I had done, the desktop started rapidly changing back and forth from the icon graphic interface to one that was a plain background. This kept cycling with no chance to stop it or activate any other procedure. I finally had to shut it down from the tower and reboot. It repeated itself and I had to shut it down again.

    On the third attempt I was able to click Settings and change back to Windows 7 Ultimate with no problem.

    The new Edge browser didn't impress me. I can see where 10 would be much better then 8 but I'll stick with 7 until they get the bugs out of 10.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience and the solution to the audio issue. At least the rollback went smoothly.

      Out of curiosity, did you "force" your upgrade or did you upgrade after receiving an invitation via the Get Windows 10 app?

      • Anonymous
        August 17, 2015 at 5:14 pm

        I received the notice on my computer inviting me to register for Windows 10. I filled out the information and a few weeks later was notified the download was complete and to install.

        Since writing my original comment, I now find I can't mass delete any emails in window live mail. I thought I was able to delete one at a time but I still have all my emails. Too bad this didn't happen to Hillary!! ????

        Gotta have some sense of humor after dealing with Microsoft.

  24. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    On of the worst things I have ever did was upgrading to Windows 10. I was happy with Win8.1, I used built in Mail with 0 problem. Now on Win10 it is buggy, I don't get notifications at all I tried everything. Windows kinda lunch fast but gets buggy in 1-2days and you will have to restart it, while Win 8.1 I can have my laptop on for 4 days with 0 issues. If I know the using the recovery feauture will bring back my old Win8.1 I would've done that but since I know it wont (i.e Micorsoft) I didnt. The only thing is to use complete system recovery feature in it.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Asif, sorry to hear about all those issues! Have you tried to roll back and what was your experience?

  25. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I made a drive image with Macrium Reflect before I upgraded to Windows 10, so I can roll back if I want with a minimum of problems. To caution, I've heard that people who've rolled back using the built in downgrade feature have experienced some troublesome issues once they get back to their previous OS.

    To be honest I'm on the fence on whether I will actually go back to my previous installation (Windows 8.1). Windows 10 is kinda nice and interesting in some ways, and I haven't encountered any problems that are totally unacceptable. I like some things like the snap assist, the Task View, multiple desktops, and Cortana. But in some ways, it does feel unfinished, like an OS that isn't quite ready for prime time and there are some things that don't seem particularly well thought out (especially in the Start Menu and in File Explorer). I'll probably stick it out and give it a few months to see if they improve things with updates.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Thank you for your feedback, Katharine!

      Yes, rollback can be dicey. It has worked for me on my Lenovo test machine, but my colleague has had serious issues on a Microsoft device. If it works, it's super smooth and fast, but since you have a drive image, I'd definitely use that - after making another drive image of your current installation because you never know. :)

  26. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    I've been impressed - if that's the right word for it - with how slow Win 10 is. Or maybe it's just that my PC is really slow with Win 10. Either way, I'll try to get back to 7. But, interestingly enough, I can't print these pages of instructions ... only the first page shows up. Or is printing also different with 10? {shaking my head} This old dog just wasn't ready for this new trick, I guess.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      This may be too late, but have you tried to print (the website?) to PDF first and then physically print the PDF? For printing websites, I recommend using a page like

      And please let us know how the rollback went!

  27. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    I was unable to rollback using MS Rollback feature.....inside of 10 days, the program informed me the files were removed......the windows.old directory was visible to me in File way to fix......MAJOR 10 may have bugs, but BACKUP/ROLLBACK should NOT be one of them........

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      That's very frustrating, Gary. Did your windows.old directory have a sufficient size? Many people have reported issues with the rollback and I can only speculate why it may not work.

      What's your solution? Will you "downgrade" manually or sit it out? Meanwhile, Windows Update should have fixed many of the issues.

      • Anonymous
        August 17, 2015 at 8:45 am

        Had over 100 Gigs of hard drive space after upgrade, which means Windows.old had enough room. I won't be downgrading as I have too much on the drive to wipe. Like a dumb kid, I didn't do a drive image BEFORE bad....sigh....don't assume the "smart" people really know what they're doing at MS.....

  28. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 11:04 am

    The UI seems a bit snappier than Windows 8, though it could just be reduced animation times. I do appreciate they've gotten rid of the.. what was it? Start screen? Tile thing? But what I don't like is that they've kept the same style of that screen for all the desktop apps now. They just seem big and huge and made for people who can't see. There is nothing elegant about Windows 10 at all. I know they've got to make the buttons big enough for touch, but on a 24" monitor everything just looks *massive*. The title bars and min/max buttons are gigantic. I don't know, the whole touch UI shoehorned into a desktop environment still feels very jarring, and now we don't have to option not to use those apps anymore.

  29. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Am I the only one that is impressed and satisfied with the upgrade here? I mean, I've been from XP all through 10 and I would have to say that this OS is better than 8.1, personally.

    Upgrade went through without no problems at all. Booted it up, still the same boot time. Gaming performance? Well, some games suffered badly due to Superfetch service being re-enabled, but once that's been gone through and disabled, performance is the same as 8.1. No networking problems, no crashes on boot, nothing anomalous at all.

    Either I am very, very lucky or HP's services are keeping me in top shape, as I'm on a HP laptop.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 16, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      I'm with you, Kensta.

      I've been working with Windows 10 since October last year with only minor issues, the "forced" upgrade from my Windows 8.1 installation on July 29 was smooth, and I tried the rollback feature three times (two times accidentally during the preview phase, once on purpose on July 29) without any issues whatsoever.

      Not having run into any obstacles over the past 10 months means I was totally blindsided by the massive issues our readers are having. It's a shame because when it works, Windows 10 is a pleasure to work with.

    • Tayvl
      September 26, 2016 at 4:40 am

      You said it: you've been very, very lucky. I've never regretted an upgrade more than Windows 10. I've spent nearly every day since upgrading in July just trying to fix the bugs and get things working (and trying to get rid of the things I don't want). There has been NO noticeable improvement in anything that I do in Windows, and there's been plenty that works worse or not at all in Win 10. I've decided to go back to Win 7 no matter how much I lose in the process. If anyone reading this is a Windows developer, you should hope we never meet...

  30. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 2:22 am

    I had (have - actually) the same issue. The upgrade went on without a hitch and I ended up at the new Windows 10 desktop. I'm thinking great.... phew! So I reboot and from that point forward, I cannot get back into Windows anymore. The wonderful blue screen of death at every boot. My Laptop however, and my wife's PC... both upgraded without any issues and are both running well.... so far.

    DEFINITELY do a full HD backup before upgrading... just in case. If I can't get this issue figured out shortly... at least I have that to fall back on.

  31. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 1:48 am

    I haven't bothered to upgrade, yet. I still consider W10 in the beta stage and will wait until the new year to review comments made to date and then decide.

  32. Anonymous
    August 3, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    No Metro UI in win 10.

  33. Anonymous
    August 3, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    The initial upgrade to Windows 10 went flawlessly. Two days later, Windows Update made some changes, and I lost networking. I tried everything I could think of to fix it, including rolling back to before the updates were applied, but nothing fixed the problem. So, I downgraded back to Windows 8.1 only to find that, while networking was functional again, I could not view any webpages due to mismatched security certificates. I've now gone from a dual boot windows/linux machine, to just Linux. Windows just isn't worth the hassle anymore.

  34. Anonymous
    August 3, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Increased boot time, reduced gaming performance, no DTS support. not impressed so far with my upgrade...

  35. Anonymous
    August 3, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I went back to Windows 7 because Windows 10 kept crashing at the boot then when it would boot it would crash 5 minutes into it.