This short article deals with one possible solution to free up disk space on your Windows computer by deleting a folder that can be useful, but is mostly just annoying.
What is $WINDOWS.~BT folder?
When Windows 10 came out, there was a period when users with earlier versions could upgrade to Windows 10 for free. During this time, computers downloaded installation files and stored them in the $WINDOWS.~BT folder. This is a hidden folder in the root directory, so it is not easy to accidentally delete it.
Computers running Windows 10 today still have this folder, with earlier versions of Windows 10 stored in it. This ensures that you can roll back to a previous OS version. However, it can take up gigabytes of space, which is not necessarily something you want, especially on the drive where your OS lives.
If you want to delete the $WINDOWS.~BT folder, read on and follow the steps! Keep in mind that this means you will not be able to perform System restore, since you will not have the previous OS version saved on your computer.
Making the $WINDOWS.~BT folder visible
Since this is a hidden folder, first you have to make sure you can access it.
- Type “folder options” in the Search bar, and choose File explorer options.
- Go to the View tab. In Advanced settings, under Files and Folders, navigate to the Hidden files and folders section and select Show hidden files, folders, and drives. Click OK.
- Now go check out the drive where your OS is sitting (usually C:\\). You should see the $WINDOWS.~BT folder. Go ahead and delete it by right-clicking and pressing Delete.
However, this is not your only option. If you would like the Disk Cleanup tool to do this for you, there is an easy way to do that too.
Deleting the $WINDOWS.~BT folder using Disk Cleanup
Getting rid of the $WINDOWS.~BT folder is not as easy as simply right-clicking and choosing Delete. We are going to use the Disk Cleanup tool, which is built into Windows.
- Type “cleanmgr” into the Search bar and open the Disk Cleanup app. This will first scan your system.
- Once the app is open, click Clean up system files. Wait until the scan is done.
- A list with several options appears. Check all of the following ones you can see:
- Previous Windows Installations
- Temporary Windows installation files
- Temporary files
- Windows Update Cleanup
- Windows upgrade log files
- Click OK. The tool now will delete all the setup, installation, and log files in the $WINDOWS.~BT folder.
Check if the folder has disappeared. If it is still there, you can safely right-click it and choose delete now. This manual deletion will take care of the remaining files.
It is possible that an error message pops up, telling you you don’t have permission to do this. In that case, you can delete the folder from Command Prompt with the following method:
Granting yourself access to the $WINDOWS.~BT folder
- Type “cmd” in the Search bar, then choose Run as administrator.
- Should a window pop up to ask you if you allow access – click Yes.
- Type “takeown /F C:\$WINDOWS.~BT /R /A” and hit Enter.
- Type “icacls C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\*.* /T /grant administrators:F” and hit Enter.
- Type “rmdir /S /Q C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\” and hit Enter.
Now the $WINDOWS.~BT folder should be completely gone from your system.
3 thoughts on “The $WINDOWS.~BT folder – and how to delete it”
Worked for me! Thanks for your help.
No go. Logged in as local admin and followed steps. When doing rmdir cmd, two files say Access Denied. Folder remains. Win 10 Enterprise
Thank you so much Esther for the time & intellect you used to come up with this. Awesome stuff! It was just amazingly helpful. May God bless you for this!