How to: Downgrade Windows 10 after the 30-Day Rollback Period

Microsoft knows exactly how tough it can be to make peace with change, which is the reason why, on top of offering free Windows 10 upgrades to all licensed Windows 7 and 8.1 users, the company quite generously also provides users who have upgraded to Windows 10 for free with a 30-day rollback period during which they can test Windows 10 out, and downgrade back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (whichever they upgraded from) if they don’t like it. While almost every Windows user who upgrades to Windows 10 for free likes the finished product that is Windows 10, it is entirely true that Windows 10, for many users, can be plagued with incompatibilities and issues which can cause such users to basically need to downgrade.

When you upgrade to Windows 10 from an older version of the OS, the version of Windows you upgraded from is stored in hidden folders named Windows.old, $Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS located in your computer’s root directory. These folders occupy around 30 gigs of storage space, which is why Windows deletes them as soon as your 30 day rollback period expires, removing your option to downgrade to your previous version of Windows from the Update & security section of Settings.

While the 30 days Microsoft gives users to decide whether or not they like Windows 10 are extremely generous, there is a chance that the user may encounter an incompatibility or a significant problem with Windows 10 after the rollback period expires. If that is the case, before considering something as drastic as a downgrade, you should try resetting your computer first, removing all of the data and apps on your computer in order to maximize your chances of fixing the issue/incompatibility. The following are the steps you need to complete in order to reset a Windows 10 computer, but be sure to backup any data that you don’t want to lose before you begin:

Open the Start Menu.

Click on Power.

While holding down the Shift key, click on Restart.

Your computer will restart and boot into a screen with three options. Click on Troubleshoot.

On the next screen, click on Reset this PC. This option may also be presented as Reset your PC.

Click on Remove everything.

If asked to choose between a Just remove my files option and a Fully clean the drive option, click on Fully clean the drive.

Click on Reset on the next screen and let the reset process go through.

However, if resetting your computer does not get rid of the issue/incompatibility or if you are simply intent on downgrading Windows 10 because, say, you simply don’t like it, don’t worry as that too is possible. Thankfully, there are ways you can use to downgrade Windows 10 to the version of Windows that you upgraded from even after your 30-day rollback period expires, although none of these ways are as easy as opening the Start Menu, going into Settings > Update & security > Recovery and clicking on Get started under the Go back to Windows X (X being the version of Windows you upgraded from) heading.

If you want to downgrade Windows 10 after the 30-day rollback period expires, the following are some of the best ways you can do so:

Clean install the version of Windows you were previously using

The most effective and straightforward method that can be used to downgrade Windows 10 once the 30-day rollback period has expired is to clean install the version of Windows you were previously using. Clean installing Windows 7 or 8.1 (depending on which one you upgraded from) will require a Windows 7/8.1 installation DVD or USB and your original Windows 7/8.1 product key and will result in Windows 10 being completely wiped from your computer’s HDD or SSD, along with all of the data stored on the partition that Windows 10 was installed on.

Note: Before you proceed, it would be best for you to backup any data on your Windows 10 computer that you don’t want to lose.

First and foremost, you are going to need a Windows 7/8.1 installation media. If you have the installation DVD that came with your original purchase of Windows 7 or 8.1 or your computer, you’re all set. However, if you don’t have an installation media on hand, use this guide to create a bootable Windows 7 installation DVD/USB or go here and download the Media Creation Tool which you can use to create a bootable Windows 8.1 installation DVD/USB.

Apart from an installation media, you are also going to need the product key for your original installation of Windows. To get this product key, you need to:

While logged into Windows 10, right-click on the Start Menu to open the WinX Menu.

Click on Command Prompt (Admin).

Type the following command into the elevated Command Prompt and press Enter:

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey

Allow the command to be fully executed, and once it has, the product key for your original installation of Windows will be displayed in the elevated Command Prompt.

Once you have both an installation media and your original Windows installation’s product key, you can go ahead with the installation. In order to perform the clean install, you need to:

Insert the installation media into your computer.

Restart your computer.

On the first screen that you see when your computer boots up, press the appropriate key to access your computer’s BIOS Setup Utility.

Reconfigure your computer’s boot priority so that it boots from its CD/DVD drive (if you are using an installation DVD) or its USB ports (if you are using an installation USB).

Save the changes and exit the BIOS.

When prompted to do so, press any key to boot from the installation media.

Follow the onscreen instructions to install a fresh iteration of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1

Restore your computer to factory settings

Most laptops (and some desktop computers) have a hidden partition on their hard drives that contain a copy of the original version of Windows, programs, files and drivers that the computer came with out of the box. This partition is meant to be used to restore a computer to the way it was when it was first taken out of its box and is perfect for the purpose of downgrading Windows 10 after the 30-day rollback period has expired.

Note: Before you proceed, it would be best for you to backup any data on your Windows 10 computer that you don’t want to lose.

Restart your computer.

On the first screen that you see when your computer boots up, you will see something along the lines of “Press [key] for recovery options”. Press the key described to access the recovery options that your computer has. If nothing along those lines shows up on the first (or second) screen you see when your computer boots up, your computer does not have a recovery partition and you are going to have to use one of the other methods listed and described here to downgrade Windows 10.

Among the recovery options displayed on the next screen will be Restore factory settings (or something similar). Select this option.

Follow the onscreen instructions to restore your computer to the way it was when you booted it up for the first time, and that includes the exact same version of Windows it had at the time.

Use a system image to go back to your previous Windows installation

If you were/are keen enough to create a system image of your computer and tuck the system image into a safe place before upgrading to Windows 10, you will be able to restore your computer to the way it was when the system image was created regardless of how long you have been using Windows 10 for. A Windows user can create a system image (a file that is basically an exact copy of the state a computer is in when the image is created) of their computer using third-party programs such as Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost or using Windows’ built-in system image creation utility (see this guide).

If you have a system image of your previous Windows installation, you can simply restore it to your computer when want to downgrade Windows 10 and go back to the version of Windows you were previously using. Using this method will also result in a loss of all the applications and files on your computer, so be sure to back anything of value up before going through with a system image restore.

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Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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How to: Downgrade Windows 10 after the 30-Day Rollback Period

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