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Downgrading from Windows 10 to a previous Windows version

When you upgrade to Windows 10 on a PC that already has Windows, the old version is stored in a folder called Windows.old. While this takes up space (up to around 30GB), it also means that you can restore the version via Windows 10 itself. If you have recently upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, and would prefer to go back to the previous version of Windows, then you can easily go back – provided you make the move within one month of upgrading to Windows 10. The downgrade procedure should take little more than 10 minutes.

If you have exceeded the one month window, or if you did a clean install of Windows 10, then you can still downgrade. However, you will need to use a recovery disk, or perhaps re-install Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 from scratch. This article only covers the downgrading procedure for Windows 10 when the installation is less than one month old.


If you're using a laptop you'll also need to connect it to a power source, or the option won't work.

You are advised to back up to an external drive any information you would like to keep, before changing the Windows operating system.

Windows 10 downgrade procedure

  1. From the Windows 10 Start menu, click Settings.

The Windows Settings page appears.

  1. Click Update & security.

The UPDATE & SECURITY window appears.

  1. From the left-hand navigation pane, click Recovery.

Additional options appear in the right-hand pane.

  1. Under Go back to Windows 8.1, click Get started.

In the example shown, we can revert to Windows 8.1 because this is the version of Windows installed before upgrading to Windows 10. If you upgraded from Windows 7, then the option given would be to go back to Windows 7.
The option to go back to a previous version of Windows is available only for one month after upgrading to Windows 10.

  1. After clicking Get started, follow the on-screen prompts to go back to Windows 8.1.

After downgrading, launch all the programs you use on a regular basis, to make sure they work (or reinstall them if they don't), and make sure your documents and other files are present and correct. If not, then copy them back off your external drive where you made a backup at the start.