While Windows 10 is a great operating system, it won’t be for everyone, and you may find that you don’t like the new operating system and want to revert back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 by uninstalling Windows 10 and downgrading to your previous version of Windows.
1How to uninstall windows 10
The good news is that this downgrading process is pretty straight forward, especially if you’ve recently upgraded to Windows 10 in the past 30 days.
If it’s been longer since you upgraded, or you performed a clean install of Windows 10 (or bought a PC with Windows 10 preinstalled), then the process is slightly more complicated. In this guide we’ll look at all the ways you can downgrade from Windows 10 and revert back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Step 1: How the Windows 10 upgrade works
When you upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or Windows 8, your existing Windows installation is saved, rather than deleted. Those old files then stay on your PC for a month (unless you delete them manually), after which Windows 10 assumes that you’re happy with the way it works and deletes the files to free up several gigabytes of hard drive space. These files are also used to restore your previous version of Windows if you want to uninstall Windows 10.
Step 2: Check if you can uninstall Windows 10
To see if you can uninstall Windows 10, go to Start > Settings > Update & security, and then select Recovery in the left of the window.
Step 3: Start the uninstallation
Look in the right of the window and you should see an option for Go back to Windows 7 or 8. Click the Get started button below to begin the uninstallation process.
Step 4: Wait while the uninstallation completes
Uninstallation will take a while and Windows 10 will ask why you’re removing it. After a couple of warnings, your PC will restart and Windows 10 will be uninstalled. This can take anything up to an hour, depending on your PC, but there’s nothing you need to do while it’s in progress.
Step 5: Check everything is still working
When Windows 10 has been removed, you’ll be back at the Windows 7 or 8 Desktop. It’s worth checking that everything is working normally at this stage and that your important files are intact. You will also need to install any software you installed under Windows 10.
Did you upgrade in the past 30 days?
If it has been less than 30 days since you upgraded to Windows 10, then you can quite easily downgrade to your previous version of Windows.
To do this, open up the Start menu and select ‘Settings’, then ‘Update & security’. From there, select ‘Recovery’ and you’ll see either ‘Go back to Windows 7’ or ‘Go back to Windows 8.1’, depending on your previous operating system.
Click the ‘Get started’ button and the process will begin. You may be asked why you’re uninstalling Windows 10 and downgrading to your previous version of Windows. Once the process is complete, Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will be back.
Has it been longer than 30 days since you upgraded to Windows 10?
If it’s been over 30 days since you installed Windows 10, then you won’t see this option to uninstall Windows 10 and downgrade it to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
To downgrade from Windows 10 after the 30 day period you will need to perform a clean install of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Now you have following options to get back to your lovely windows 7 or 8.1
2Uninstalling via a factory restore
If you find yourself after the rollback time limit with no going back to an old version of Windows, help may still be at hand for some users. On many PCs and laptops, there is a hidden partition on the hard disc that has a copy of the original Windows, programs, drivers and settings, which were on your PC when you brought it back from the shops. With any luck, Windows 10 will have ignored this and left it intact.
To access it, when booting up look for messages such as “Press F11 for Recovery Options”. Whatever key the PC wants you to press, press that and with any luck, you should get a menu that has options to restore factory settings.
A restore will very likely wipe the entire C drive, so back up any important data before you do this. You will also have to install a ton of Windows update post-installation as well as any drivers and software for hardware you have installed yourself.
3Using third-party backup software
If you managed to make an image of your computer prior to upgrading to Windows 10, you can use third-party software to re-install that image onto your computer and get back to a previous version of Windows.
Tools such as EaseUS Todo Backup Free (www.easus.com) can do this. To create an image, plug in an external drive, run Todo Backup and click System Backup or Disk/Partition Backup
You can use the default settings on this and once the backup is underway, the application can be minimised while performing its task. To create recovery media, click on the Tools icon and select Create Emergency Disk. There are several choices and the best is ‘Create WinPE emergency disk’ and USB. Insert a memory stick with a capacity of at least 1GB.
The USB drive can be used to start the PC. Just press a function key while the machine starts up to boot from USB and this will run the restore software automatically so you can restore the PC.
4Uninstall Windows 10 using the recovery option
When you upgrade to Windows 10 through the free upgrade offer or manual upgrade process, you’re technically installing a trial version of the operating system. This means that after the upgrade, a copy of the previous version will stay on your computer for 30 days in case you want to rollback.
After the month ends, Windows 10 assumes that you have decided to keep the new version, as such it’ll proceed to delete the previous version to free up storage space on your hard drive.
During the upgrade process, everything you need to revert to the previous version is located in the Windows.old and $WINDOWS.~BT folders. These folders are located on the main installation drive (usually the C: drive).
Before you can uninstall the operating system, you want to verify that the two folders exist. On File Explorer, inside the C: drive, you’ll find the Windows.old folder, but you’ll need to click the View tab, and check the Hidden items option to see the $WINDOWS.~BT folder.
Once you know you have the necessary files to uninstall windows 10, do the following:
- Use the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut to open the Settings app.
- Click Update & security.
- Click Recovery.
- If you’re still within the first month since you upgraded to Windows 10, you’ll see the “Go back to Windows 7” or “Go to back to Windows 8” section. If you do, click the Get started button.
- Answer the question why you’re going back and click Next.
- Before you go back, you’ll get the choice to install updates (if available) to try to fix any issues. However, if you’re ready to go back, click No, thanks to continue.
- Carefully read what will happen with your apps and settings during this process and click Next.
- If you used a different password to sign in to your account on the previous installation, you will need that password to sign in after you go back. Make sure you have the required password, and click Next.
- Click the Go back to Windows 7 or Go back to Windows 8.1 button to complete the process.
Keep in mind that uninstalling Windows 10 from your computer will remove apps and settings configured after the upgrade. If you need those settings or apps back, you’ll have to go install them again.
Uninstall Windows 10 using the full backup option
There are no excuses: No matter what, you should periodically make a full backup of your computer — you never know when it will come in handy. If you have previously created a full backup, you can now use it to go back to the previous version of the operating system.
You’ll need a repair disc to boot your computer into the Windows Recovery Environment to restore the previous version. If you didn’t create one during backup, follow these instructions:
- Right-click the Start menu and select Control Panel.
- Click System and Security.
- Click Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
- On the left pane, click Create a system repair disc.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to create the repair disc.
Once you have the repair disc created use the following steps to go back:
- Connect the drive that contains the backup with your previous installation to your computer.
- Reboot your computer with the repair disc.
- On the Setup screen, click Next.
- Click the Repair your computer link.
- Click Troubleshoot.
- Click Advanced options.
- Click System Image Recovery.
- Sign-in with your user account.
- Select the backup you want to recover, and click Next.
- If applicable, follow the on-screen instructions, and click Finish to complete the process.
After the recovery process completes, you’ll be back in your previous version of Windows. Remember to reinstall any applications you installed when you upgraded to Windows 10 and do not forget to restore any new files from backup as well.
5Doing a clean install of Windows
Once you have the installation files, follow these steps to do a clean install:
- Restart your computer using either the Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installation media.
- On the Setup screen, click Next.
- Click Install now.
- Accept the licensing agreement, and click Next.
- Click the Custom: Install Windows only (Advanced) option.
- Select and delete the system partitions. Generally you want to delete: Drive 0 Partition 1and Drive 0 Partition 2.
- Click Next and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
After the installation completes and you go through the out-of-box experience, remember to use Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update to download the latest patches for your version of the operating system. Then reinstall all your applications, and restore your files from backup.
Wrapping things up
Even though Windows 10 is a great operating system with a lot of new changes, improvements, and features, it may still not be good enough for many people. Reasons can include problems with device drivers, to features not working correctly, compatibility issues, or the simple fact that a lot of people just don’t like the new operating system.