How to uninstall Windows 10 and restore Windows 8.1

Technical Level : Basic


Windows 10 supports a “Rollback” feature that allows you to go back (recover) to the version of Windows (Windows 8.1 or Windows 7) installed on your PC prior to upgrading to Windows 10.

Note: Originally the Rollback feature was available for 30 days from the time you upgraded, recent changes have reduced this down to only 10 days. After which you will no longer be able to go back to your previous version of Windows!


If you were running any version of Windows 8.1 then you can use this option to uninstall Windows 10 and restore Windows 8.1 without losing your applications, documents, photos and other personal files.

Note: Applications you installed and personal settings changes made while using Windows 10 will not be saved, however existing applications installed within Windows 8.1 and any newly created Windows 10 documents, photos and other personal files will be migrated back to Windows 8.1.

Let’s Start:

You have three easy ways to access the ‘Recovery’ option:

Option #1) Click on Settings > Update & security.

Option #2) In the ‘Search’ box enter:   recovery options

Then click on ‘Recovery Options’ displayed at the top of the list.

Now click on the ‘Get started’ button in the ‘Go back to Windows 8.1’ option to start the recovery process.

Note: If you see the following error message: “We’re sorry, but you can’t go back”, skip to the last part of this Wiki article for more information.

Select the option that best describes why you are going back. The text box at the bottom is optional, but can provide useful information to Microsoft as to why you don’t want to continue using Windows 10. Click the ‘Next’ button to continue.

Read the fine print and if you still want to recover / rollback then click on the ‘Go back’ button.

Click on the ‘Go Back to Windows …’ button to start the actual recovery / roll back process.

Option 3) You “may” also have a third method to rollback which is to click on the ‘Windows Rollback’ option displayed on the ‘Choose an operating System’ screen when you power on your PC or ‘Restart’ your PC.

Note: You may need to hold down the Shift key and click on the 'Restart' option from within Windows 10 to see this option.

When you upgraded from Windows 8.1, you should see the following two options when you boot / turn on the computer. Click on the Windows Rollback option to start the process of recovering Windows 8.1.

Now sit back and watch the action.


You receive the following error message when you click on the ‘Get started’ button:

“We’re sorry, but you can’t go back”

This error is the result of deleting the C:\Windows.old folder.

How did this folder get deleted?

A) You deleted the folder using Windows File Explorer. Typically this file is deleted because of the large amount of disk space it can consume as it contains the entire contents of your previous version of Windows or an earlier build.


Depending on the size of your disk drive you may find that after installing the Windows 10 Technical Preview there is not much free space on your drive, therefor in an attempt to gain more free space the user deletes the C:\Windows.old folder and or the C:\$Windows~BT folder.

More than likely the file will be too large to be contained in the Recycle Bin but you can always check if it’s there and if so restore it.

B) You ran Disk Cleanup and selected/clicked on the ‘Clean up system files’.

Additional Wiki articles you may want to read:

Windows 10 - What type of product key do I have?

How to get the Windows 10 Free upgrade has been made even easier

Threshold 2 Update - Still waiting for the update, how to get it installed now

Windows 10 Fall Update Threshold 2 now available

How to extend the 30 day limit to go back to your previous version of Windows

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i really need help i dont have the recovery disk to go back to 8.1, i have no option to go back to previous version of windows and when i restart my laptop i have no Choose an operating System option please help me i want to get the windows 10 official build.

Do you have a folder named C:\Windows.old on your disk drive?

Never be afraid to ask. This forum has some of the best people in the world available to help.

If window 10 is an actual different OS that the previed windows 10,,no ones saying that it's actually any different and this might not be an actual fact about it being the same thing, as people seem to still be referencing the preview instead of the full blown roll out ?

* I'm wondering if Google's cloud drive would be a good way to make a back up of Windows 8.1, if that is possible to take a miiror copy of peoples OS alone,, and not every other thing thats on a drive.

Personally I'm going to back up to my own segregated hard drive, that can be unplugged from my laptop, nd stored away for a major disfunction of Windows 10 not being all that they say it is.*

My main preoccupation with Windows 8.1 is that is was too ugly out of the box, and that Windows 10 is still following the same foot steps of their corporate agenda over what people actually want, no one wants a computer to be a phone unless they want it to be, and to make a computer look and feel like a phone is making the computer use dumber in it's overall application unless phones actually become the computer, which is too far off to say will happen,, but for the time being I want my computer to be mine and to be customisable to what I want, and to how it feels for my use, and that the look of the OS is important to me and other people that want their own machines as theirs,,and not as a phone.

I do not give away any of my rights even if your asking for them in a TOS.

Due to technical issues I HAVE to roll pc back. I have the windows.old file where it should be, but I get the "missing files" message when I try to roll back PC (from settings recovery). The file was never deleted, but it seems that my pc doesn't know that I have it.

I keep wondering if Microsoft will go out of their way to help people with this type of issue,, My thoughts on this would be to ask if Microsoft should have a back up of the previos version of what version of OS people had,,as a mirror file system people can DL from their server.. seeing as it was their instigation of this new version/upgrade and how it's being done that has made people unaware of what needs to be done to safe gaurd their roll back if applicable,, I put the blame on Microsoft for not having contingancies for errors that may occour from these update/upgrades, that may need to be rolled back by individuals who need to and cant because of overwritten disk sectors/data from the update ??

Microsoft need to step up to this occasion, and see the needs of the many out wiegh their bottom line, if people need to throw Microsoft away,, they will see a need to if their is no going back !

Or they eccept that their is no way back to what you had,, and that you need to buy the whole thing for a price,, I am going to make an assumption that the later will be applicable.

I will be going to hold off the update.ugrade untill the real information is available of the real cost of getting something for free.

I do not give away any of my rights even if your asking for them in a TOS.

Your not the only one with this issue and I have not been able to find the cause, sorry.

Never be afraid to ask. This forum has some of the best people in the world available to help.

Having tried Windows 10, i found that it noticeably slowed down my PC, OneDrive synchronization no longer worked and Outlook would not send any mail along with some interesting new issues with my home network. I spent a good week trawling for answers and having an MS tech support chap take over my PC and go through the same steps i had already tried, I decided to roll back to Windows 8.1.

While that went without a hitch i am now continually prompted to upgrade to Windows 10 again. Is there any way to prevent the windows 10 install download and continued harassment to move to windows 10   ?


1) Verify that for Windows 8.1 KB3035583 and KB2976978 are installed.

Open Windows Update as follows:

Windows 7: Click on ‘Start’ / Control Panel / Windows Updates and in the bottom left corner click on the ‘Installed Updates’ link.

Windows 8.1: Right click on ‘Start’ / Control Panel / Windows Updates and in the bottom left corner click on the ‘Installed Updates’ link.

In the upper right corner there is a ‘Search Installed Update’ box. Enter the appropriate pair of KB numbers (one at a time) for your version of Windows. Example: KB3035583

2) Uninstall both updates and then reboot your computer.

3) Manually run Windows Update and select these two updates and hide them.

Never be afraid to ask. This forum has some of the best people in the world available to help.
You are a genius ! Thanks a million :-)
I don't get a recovery option on my computer at all. I do have windows.old file on my tablet. Do you know of a way to get windows 8.1 back? I also tried to download windows 8.1 and put it back on but it says my product key that came with my tablet is no good.

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Last updated June 28, 2020 Views 59,183 Applies to: