How to recover / restore your previous version of Windows using the Rollback feature in the Anniversary, Spring / Fall Creators Update & April / Oct. 2018 update

Technical Level : Intermediate

Summary

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

Note: All recent versions of Windows 10 only have a 30 10 day time limit after upgrading to Windows 10 to use this feature as described below.


Details

If you were running an earlier version of Windows 10 (or Windows 7 / 8.1) then you can use this option to uninstall the current version of Windows 10 and restore your previous version of Windows without losing your earlier version’s applications, documents, photos and other personal files.

Notes:

A) How long is the Recovery /Rollback option available?

The Spring and Fall Creators Updates (Version 1703 and 1709) and its predecessor the “Anniversary Update” (Version 1607) only gives you 10 days to go back to your previous versions of Windows. Earlier versions of Windows 10 (version 1507 and 1511) gave you 30 days in which to recover / rollback.

Reference: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12415/windows-10-recovery-options

B) Applications installed and personal settings changes made after the Windows 10 Creators Update was installed will not be saved (applications installed prior to installing the Creators Update will be preserved), also newly created Windows 10 documents, photos and other personal files will be migrated back to your earlier version of Windows.

 

Let’s Start:

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

1) Click on Start > Settings >

2) In the Windows Setting options click on Update & security

3) In the column of option on the left side of Windows Update click on the ‘Recovery’ option.

4) Click on ‘Get started’ to start the Recovery / Rollback process

  

5) Click on one of the boxes that best describes “Why are you going back?”, then click on the ‘Next’ button to continue.

6) Check for updates?  It’s your choice but if you have already checked for updates you can skip this step.


7) What you need to know. 

a) Laptops should be plugged into an AC power outlet.

b) After going back you may need to reinstall some apps and programs

c) You’ll lose any changes made to settings after installing Windows 10 or the latest build.

d) Backup any important data files (Documents, Photos, Music, Etc.) to a USB Flash drive.

e) I suggest you also create an Image Backup of your “entire” disk drive (all partitions) to an external USB drive as a means of recovering Windows 10 should the recovery / rollback fail.

8) If necessary document your account name and password.

  

9) Thanks for trying …., click on the ‘Go Back to Windows …’ button to start the actual recovery / roll back process.

10) Now sit back and watch the action.

Method 2) Alternate means of accessing the Roll Back / Go Back to previous version option.

You have two ways of accessing the alternate method; both involve using the Power/Reset option.

A) From within Windows 10 click the ‘Start’ menu, select the ‘Power’ option and the hold down the ‘Shift’ key and click on the ‘Restart’ option.

B) After powering on the computer and before you enter your password click on the ‘Power’ button icon located in the lower right corner of the display, hold down the ‘Shift’ key and then click on the ‘Restart’ option.

Your computer will reboot, choose your account name and password to continue and then you should see the GUI Boot Menu when the computer restarts. Click on the ‘Troubleshoot’ option.

Next click on ‘Advanced options’

Now click on the ‘Go back to Windows 7 / 8.1’ or previous build option. The restoration / roll back process will start by rebooting your computer after which you will be prompted to choose an account (use your Windows 7 account and password if you created a new account while you using Windows 10).

After you enter your password you will have the option to either ‘Go back to previous build’ which will restore Windows 7 or 8.1 or ‘Cancel’ the recovery / roll back and return to Windows 10.

=========================================================

If 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.

Example: If your Windows 7 installation consumed 250GB of disk space due to a large amount of data files (Photos, Music, Streaming video, documents) then the Windows/old folder will be approximately 250GB in size. 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.

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’ or the 10 day time limit has been exceeded.

 

Forum Article Info


Last updated September 16, 2019 Views 121,824 Applies to:

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Hi JW,

This article should come with the Windows 10 Upgrade!  I have been searching for a way back to Windows 7 and my laptop has failed three times for different reasons.  Unfortunately, the error message is too long and the screen blanks out before I can get it copied.  I don't know if there is a log file, but there should be and we should be told where it is.

I now have the restore executing.  If successful, I will post Me Too.

Sincerely,

Barry

NB: I am writing this on my trusty XP backup machine.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ten minutes later and I have Windows 7 recovered!  When I first logged in, I had a blue screen for about 10-15 seconds.  However, everything now seems to be working okay.  I'm going to take my son-in-law's advice and wait until March to re-install Windows 10.

Thank you!

One additional comment after successful recovery of Windows 7.

I use Windows Live as my email client.  It had to refresh all email accounts.  It may have been a simple matter of renaming the Store Folder, but I took the easy way out for now and let Windows Live refresh all of the mail.  I'll look later to see if I have extraneous folders out there.

Second additional comment:

I did have archived messages in the storage folders and am in the processing of recovering those from my backup.

No other anomalies noted.

Barry

Ok.  So for those of us who can't rollback...even thought our Windows.old folder has not been removed...and it has only been 5 days since I installed Win10...how can I rollback?  Looks like many people are reporting this, but nobody has yet to provide a valid reason for Win10 to say "sorry, but you can't rollback - bla bla bla".

Please help?   Anybody?

Microsoft published this article on recovery options: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/windows-10-recovery-options

Go back to your previous version of Windows

For a month after you upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll be able to go back to your previous version of Windows from Settings > Update & security > Recovery. This will keep your personal files, but it'll remove apps and drivers installed after the upgrade, as well as any changes you made to settings.
To go back, you'll need to:

    Keep everything in the windows.old and $windows.~bt folders after the upgrade.

    Make sure not to add, remove, or move any user accounts after the upgrade.

    Know the password you used to sign in to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (if you used one).

    Have the USB drive you used to upgrade to Windows 10 (if you used one).

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

Thanks.  All of those things are true.  5 days is certainly less than a month.

But when I get:

We're sorry, but you can't go back.

The files we need to take you back to a previous version of Windows were removed from this PC.

That is in fact FALSE. 

The Windows.old directory has not been removed. 

Nor the Windows.~bt.  But this is the first time I've seen reference to this one.  So I'll look for it.

I have not altered user accounts.

Given that the Windows.~bt file is there, then why would I still not be able to roll back, since I've met all of the conditions to?

Like I've said, I see many reports of this, and people who still can't rollback, like myself.  Very frustrating.

JW,

Those four needs should have been included as a warning as part of the upgrade.  While Microsoft is gloating over the number of Windows 10 installs, the company fails to account for those users that either went back or failed in attempts to recover a fully working operating system.  Personally, I would not be surprised if Windows 10 is not the LAST version of the Windows operating system.

The recovery site mentions that mail apps can't be fully recovered.  Why release a product to the public with such an obvious flaw?

My comments are obviously not directed to JW, who is trying to help.  I wish Huggidav and other Microsoft victims the best.

Barry

I'm getting another computer ready to see if it has any roll back issues. Can't say exactly when I'll have the results as I'm still installing Windows updates and will create an Image Backup before I install Windows 10.
Never be afraid to ask. This forum has some of the best people in the world available to help.

I have same problem

I can't go back to windows 8.1 even windows.old directory has not been removed,

Windows 10 is too buggy, my screen is endless flashing, I want to go back to windows 8.1

I regret upgrade to windows 10, I should wait upgrade until service pack one is released, I belive windows 10 is getting better after service pack is released, like other version of windows.

I'm not happy with windows 10

Turned on my laptop this morning, and there it was .. A message that mentions the upgrade to Windows 10 is ready ! I was getting impatient. So the upgrade went flawless...  I did not have to do anything.  Upgrade took care of the re-starts, and upgrades. Very exciting ! Then I check to make sure the personal settings are still fine... It asked me to select a default web browser. Which I did. Not a problem. 

Then I went to play my game, Diablo 2. I know, it's a very old game that relies heavily on graphics, drivers, etc.

As I was playing I noticed an extremely unplayable game because of the extremely reduced frame rates.

I re-set the video settings for the game and selected the lowest settings to make it play more smoothly. It did make some noticeable changes. But it is still very "laggy" ..frame rates are still choppy. 

Based on this performance, I decided, I wanted to go back to Windows 8.1 which worked flawlessly with the game I used this laptop for. Nothing else. However, the recovery options does not display a "rollback" option...other than Reset, and Advanced.

I still see the Windows.Old directory with 12.5gb .. and there was another file that contained 2.5 gb which I removed through Disk Clean Up ... It was noted that the file could be removed safely.

There was an update for Windows 10 that I thought might help the performance ..but it did not make a difference, plus it only said "Cumulative update" ...  nothing specific.

So now I am in a limbo state where I could not "Rollback" to the previous Windows installation., and playing my game in a very frustrating slow frame rate unplayable position.

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