What is $Windows.~WS folder in Windows 10/11

by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
Aleksandar's main passion is technology. With a solid writing background, he is determined to bring the bleeding edge to the common user. With a keen eye, he always... read more
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what is $windows.~ws folder
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Just like all previous Windows iterations, Windows 10 has some unique features and unique folders. One of those is the $Windows~WS folder which stores upgrade-related files.

Today, we’ll try to explain what this folder stands for, why is it important, and why you can or can’t delete it without a second thought. You can find everything you need regarding this folder just below.

What’s $Windows~WS folder and can you safely delete it

What’s Windows~WS folder?

$Windows~WS is a hidden folder in which you can find essential files of the previous system version. Basically, it stores the most important data and provides you with back up in case you want to downgrade your system back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Thus, this folder is only visible to users that upgraded to Windows 10 on Windows 7 or 8 foundation, rather than performing the clean installation.what is $windows.~ws folder

It can be found in the system partition, once you enable the Hidden items. You can do so by checking the Hidden items box under the View section.what is $windows.~ws folder

Even though ‘WS’ stands for Windows Setup, it stores mostly configuration files and not the setup files. Still, if you’re rethinking switching back to Windows 7 or 8 respectively, it’s quite important to keep this file and not delete it.

Another similar folder is $Windows~BT which, on the other hand, stores major updates and installation files, so it’s also worth keeping.

Can I delete $Windows.~WS?

On the other hand, these folders combined can take dozens of gigabytes of storage space. And if you’re satisfied with what Windows 10 has to offer, you can delete their content right away. You can do it manually — by deleting the folder, or with the little help of the built-in tool called Disk Cleanup. Details about Disk Cleanup can be found in this article, so make sure to check it out.

Follow the instructions below to clean them and free some storage space on your system partition:

  1. In the Windows Search bar, type Disk and open Disk Cleanup.
  2. Select the system partition (C: most of the time).
  3. Click on the ”Clean Up System Files” button.
  4. Check all the boxes.what is $windows.~ws folder
  5. Click OK to confirm start the cleanup procedure.what is $windows.~ws folder

After that, you can navigate to C:$Windows~WS and delete its content completely. And, don’t worry, you can delete this folder without consequences.

That should do it. In case you have related questions regarding this or other folders, make sure to post them in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.


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