Should I Delete Windows Setup Files? (8 Step Guide)

Person setting up their new computer using Windows Setup files

Share This Post:

Table of Contents

At one point or another, everyone has had to update or reinstall Windows. Unfortunately, that process isn’t always perfect, and you may be left with unnecessary setup files (i.e., the files you used to complete the install and/or upgrade) or even those from an older version of an update.
disk cleanup windows example

Here’s why you should consider deleting those setup and system files, and why getting rid of them can help you increase your computer’s performance.

Clean Your Computer in Minutes, not hours...

The Shred Cube wipes your unwanted computer files, that you choose, in minutes. Try it for yourself.

Get The Shred Cube

Why Do I Have Extra Windows Setup Files?

Millions of people upgrade their Windows operating systems each year. As Microsoft drops support for previous versions, users are forced to upgrade to receive patches, security updates, and new features.
The upgrade process creates backup files from many of the directories in your previous version of Windows, including things like your Windows folder (which is hidden), user profiles, documents, and program files. Typically, these files are stored in two folders:
  1. Windows.old
  2. $Windows.~BT
These folders can help you replace missing files after you install a newer version of Windows, but they also take up processing power. In fact, Windows admits that, “[these folders] can use up a significant amount of hard drive space on your computer” and that, “it is a good idea to remove these two folders to reclaim that space for other programs to use.”

Can I Delete Windows Setup Files?

Deleting Windows files can be scary. After all, the system files are integral to your computer and are hidden for a reason: Deleting them can crash your PC. Windows setup and old files from a Windows update are perfectly safe to delete, though.
It is safe to remove any of the following (so long as you no longer need them):
  • Windows setup files
  • Windows.old
  • $Windows.~BT
It is not safe to delete any of the following files:
  • Any Windows system files in AppData, Program Files, or ProgramData
  • C:\Windows

How To Delete Windows Setup Files

Most users “delete” files by dragging them to the recycling bin, but Microsoft has a unique tool — Disk Cleanup — to help you “delete” its setup files. It’s important to understand a few things:
  • Disk Cleanup (like the recycling bin) does not permanently delete these files from your system.
  • It instead removes your hard drive’s ability to detect them in the hopes that it will eventually overwrite them with other data.
  • The data from these files will still be on your hard drive, and any sensitive information from past Windows installations will still be recoverable.
  • These redundant — and now hidden — files can still impact your processing power.
Here is how to delete Windows files via the Disk Cleanup:

Step 1: Click on the search bar in the bottom right corner

Step 2: Type Disk Cleanup into the search bar

disk cleanup

Step 3: Select the Run as administrator option

Screenshot of disk cleanup run as administrator

Step 4: Select the drive that contains your Windows operating system on it.

disk cleanup windows example

Step 5: Click the checkboxes for Previous Windows Installation(s) and Temporary Windows Installation Files 

Screenshot of delete temporary windows installation files

Step 6: Uncheck all other options

Step 7: Click OK

Step 8: Select Delete Files

delete all files screenshot

Disk Cleanup is a simple way to delete old setup or Windows files, but doesn’t actually “delete” anything. Instead, it removes markers and pointers your hard drive uses to detect those files. Any saved documents, pictures, credit card data, or personal information (PI) still exist on it and can be recovered. Worse yet, that data is taking up space and can cause freezing issues.

Permanently Delete Unwanted Files

If you want to delete sensitive data so that it can’t be recovered or want to improve system performance by eliminating redundant Windows folders and stale data, the Shred Cube can help. Our device securely, safely, and permanently deletes data from your system, disposing of risk-laden legal documents and business information. Contact us to learn how it can help you delete your old data for good.

Share This Post:

Discover Simplicity in Digital File Shredding Today

shred cube with box
Robert Hupman
Robert Hupman
Read More
What a revolutionary product that was created in my hometown! By some of the most hardworking family oriented people in the world. Top notch services and personnel with this company!
shred cube product facing left

Your Permanent Solution To Deleting Files