Can't fully delete Windows.old on Surface 3 after upgrade to Windows 10

I successfully upgraded my Surface 3 to Windows 10.  The upgrade went very well.  I decided to do disk cleanup and chose to delete the old windows files.

Disk cleanup did a very good job of getting rid of all the old stuff, but for some reason, some files in the Windows.old directory did not get removed.

I tried to remove the directory myself manually, but I get the following message:

"The action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program."

I've tried restarting but still I can't delete these files.

I really don't believe these files are actually in use by some process because I am able to move and rename them without a problem. But I just can't delete them.

The files are all .sys files.  They appear to be driver related - for things like the pen, type cover, and camera.

Does anyone know of a way I can delete these?  They are not taking up a lot of disk space, but it is frustrating that I can't fully clean up my storage after the upgrade.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

***Post moved by the moderator to the appropriate forum category.***


Question Info

Last updated April 22, 2019 Views 11,220 Applies to:

I also wanted to mention that the Disk Cleanup program for me has been more successful than just deleting outright from the folder.

But there's a little catch, you have to do it twice.  When you run Disk Cleanup tool, it runs in a limited security context and it can't clean the Windows.Old folder.  To elevate it to run and do a full cleanup job, here's how:

  1. Open Start menu and type cleanmgr (short for "cleanup manager")
  2. When the tool runs, don't use it yet.  Instead, click "clean up system files" button at the bottom (this will re-launch the program in an elevated security context; ie. as administrator)

Now it will be able to clean it up.  Or at least it worked better for me :)

Shawn "Cmdr" Keene | Microsoft MVP - Windows Insider | | tweet me: @LtCmdrKeene
Microsoft MVPs are independent experts offering real-world answers. Learn more at

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