How to get rid of Windows 10 and get your old OS back

Personally I think Windows 10 is a great operating system. It’s a bit unfinished still, but the Anniversary Update coming in July will fix a lot of the problems, and also introduce additional features. That said, I can fully understand why some people might decide Windows 10 is not for them and opt to roll back to a previous OS.

Microsoft allows users to 'undo' an installation directly from within Windows 10, but there is a catch - you only get 30 days in which you can do this. That’s not the only method of rolling back Windows 10 though, there are other tools which you can use for the task beyond that time limit.

If you’re still within the 30-day period, you can roll back the Windows 10 installation by going to Settings > Update & security > Recovery and clicking the Get started button under Go back to an earlier build.

If you want to try a different method, give NeoSmart’s Windows 10 Rollback Utility a try. This is a 197MB ISO file which you can write to CD or to a USB flash drive, and boot into.

If you’re having problems with Windows, the program offers some Easy Recover Essentials which include Automated Repair, Virus Scanner, Browse/Backup Files, Partition Editor and Internet Browser.

Assuming you don’t need any of those, click Continue and you’ll be shown any drives that are eligible for recovery. Select the non-Windows 10 system entry (Windows 7, for example), click on Automated Repair, and then click the Roll Back button.

The software will mount the partition and begin the rollback procedure. The process is very quick and keeps the Windows 10 files so you can quickly go back to the new OS in the future should you need to. When you "undo" your Windows 10 installation, the program will also block any future attempts at automatically reinstalling it, which is handy.

Naturally, before proceeding, you’ll want to make sure you’ve backed up all of your important personal data, just in case.

Like the built-in Windows rollback tool, this utility requires you to act within 30 days of installing Windows 10. This is because all remaining traces of the previous installation will be deleted after the grace period to free up space on your disk.

That said, you could backup the files for your previous OS and then copy them back in place after the 30-day period has expired. This will give Windows 10 Rollback all of the files it needs to revert to the older OS. There are three folders to back up:

  • $Windows.~BT
  • $Windows.~WS
  • Windows.old

The folders are hidden, but you can display them by going to Folder Options > View > Show Hidden.

This approach definitely doesn’t work if you try to use the built in Windows 10 downgrade tool (Microsoft isn’t that easily fooled) but NeoSmart tells me it will work with Windows 10 Rollback. I haven’t personally tried it myself so can’t confirm this.

Windows 10 Rollback isn’t the only such tool for the job. You might also want to consider EaseUS System GoBack Free. This tool creates an image of your old OS which you can use to undo a Windows 10 upgrade should you wish to.

Of course, the image will roll you back to the exact same point in time when you created it, so bear that in mind.

Photo Credit: Markus Gann/Shutterstock