If you upgraded your computer running Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 and are finding things not working correctly or if you’re simply not a fan of how it works, you can go back to your previous version. Here’s a look at how to do it.
Important Notes: You only have 30 days to make up your mind on whether or not you want to revert. Also, during the first 30 days, definitely do not delete your Windows.old folder located in the root directory of your C: drive. If you wait longer that the 30-day limit, then you’ll need to do a clean install of your previous OS.
Also, make sure all of your necessary files from Windows 10 are backed up before starting this process. Just like when you upgraded windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to 10, all of your files should come with you. But nothing in tech is definite. We stress backing up your data in all articles like this, and you might be tired of hearing it, but having secure backups is one of the most important things you need to do as a computer owner, no matter what operating system you’re running! This practice also applies to your iPhone or iPad, Android device, Windows Phone, or whatever mobile device you have.
I have made sure that all of my important files, photos, and other important data is backed up. I am ready to go back to my previous version of Windows.
Revert from Windows 10 to Widows 7 or 8.1
To start go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery (you can get there faster by using Windows Key+I), and in the list on the right you should see Go back to Windows 7 or 8.1 – depending on which version you upgrade. Click the Get started button. In this example, I’m going back to Windows 8.1, but the process is the same for Windows 7.
Microsoft will ask you why you’re going back – just provide a reason and click next.
Now you’ll need to navigate through a series of messages, starting with the one shown below. It reminds you to leave your PC plugged in, and that after going back you have to reinstall some apps. You’ll also be reminded, as we did at the top of this article, to make sure your data is backed up.
Make sure you know your password for the previous version of Windows, so you aren’t locked out. This is more important if you’re downloading to Windows 7, or didn’t use the same Microsoft Account to log in with Windows 8.1.
Now you’re on your way back to your previous version. You’ll see a message: Restoring your PC will restore your previous version of Windows, and your system will restart several times during the process.
When it’s done, you can do some housekeeping and reinstall certain apps. It’s also important to note that yes, you can upgrade to Windows 10 later if you decide to, and it will still be free.
In fact, once after I downgraded to Windows 8.1 and logged in, the message to upgrade to Windows 10 popped up right away.
For more on the upgrade process, or doing a clean install, read one of our guides listed below:
- How to Perform a Clean Install of Windows 10
- How to Download the Windows 10 ISO for a Clean Install
- How to Upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10
- How to Upgrade Windows 8.1 to Windows 10
And, for more on the new operating system from Microsoft, check out our full collection of Windows 10 articles — we add new content daily!
Or for specific questions, or to talk shop with other Microsoft geeks, join the free Windows 10 Forums.