The $Windows.~BT Folder: What It Is and How to Delete It

It's not hard to remove, but do you really need to?

If you've noticed your hard drive space is low and you can't figure out why, it could be the $Windows.~BT folder. This folder contains files related to when you upgraded your system to the latest version of Windows 10. They also contain a large amount of space; several gigabytes.

The folder and files can exist on Windows 7 or Windows 8 systems as well as Windows 10.

What Is the $Windows.~BT Folder?

The $Windows.~BT Folder is a hidden folder on the root drive where the Windows OS is installed.

When you upgraded your older Windows system to Windows 10, or upgraded Windows 10 to a new build, all folders and files related to your previous windows installation are saved in the $Windows.~BT Folder. It also contains important log files that can help with troubleshooting why the upgrade may not have been successful.

You may be wondering why the $Windows~BT folder would be on Windows 7 or 8. During an upgrade attempt to Windows 10 during the free Windows 10 upgrade period, the installation process created the folder. If you decided to downgrade back to Windows 7 or 8, the folder remained.

Should I Delete the $Windows.~BT Folder?

If you're struggling for space on your hard drive, then that's a very good reason to delete the directory and all its contents.

However, keep in mind that deleting this folder means you won't be able to downgrade from Windows 10, or to a previous build of Windows 10.

If this doesn't matter to you, then you can proceed.

Keep in mind that once this folder is deleted, you'll no longer be able to use System Recovery (found in Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.) This means you can't recover your computer to a fresh installation of Windows.

How to Check If You Have a $Windows.~BT Folder

Before you can delete the folder to clear space, you'll need to make sure that it's present on your system. You can do this by making hidden files and folders visible.

  1. Select the Start menu, search for Folder Options and select File Explorer Options.

    Screenshot of selecting File Explorer Options
  2. In the File Folder Options window, select the View tab.

  3. In Advanced settings, under Files and Folders, find the Hidden files and folders section and select Show hidden files, folders, and drives. Select OK to save the changes.

    Screenshot of File Explorer Options in Windows 10
  4. Navigate to the drive where your Windows operating system is installed. If your system has a restore backup you'll see the $Windows.~BT folder here.

    Screenshot of the $Windows.~BT folder

How to Delete the $Windows.~BT Folder

Deleting this folder isn't as simple as selecting it and pressing the Delete key. You'll need to use the Disk Cleanup Tool that's included in Windows.

  1. Select the Start menu, type Disk Cleanup, and select the Disk Cleanup app. When it first launches, it will scan your system to find all areas where you can delete folders and files to clean up space.

    Screenshot of Disk Cleanup launching
  2. Once the Disk Cleanup utility opens, select Clean up system files and the Disk Cleanup utility window will disappear. You'll need to wait up to several minutes for it to scan all system files and reappear.

    Screenshot of selecting Clean up system files in Disk Cleanup utility
  3. Once it reappears, you'll see extra options in the list. These can vary from system to system, but select any of the following options that you see in the list:

    • Previous Windows Installations
    • Windows Update Cleanup
    • Windows upgrade log files
    • Temporary Windows installation files
    • Temporary files
    Screenshot of Disk Cleanup with Windows Update selected

    The options you see in the Disk Cleanup utility depend on the version of Windows you're using as well as which Windows 10 build you have installed.

  4. Select OK to continue with deleting the $Windows.~BT Folder and all Windows installation and update setup and log files.

Handling Remaining Files in the $Windows.~BT Folder

If you see that this folder is still in the root directory, it may be because a few log files or setup files remained. These can be cleaned up manually.

You can right-click the folder and select Delete to remove the folder and remaining files.

If you don't have permissions, run the following command in Command Prompt as administrator, but replace "C:" with the drive letter where you have Windows installed.

takeown /F C:\$Windows.~BT\* /R /A 
icacls C:\$Windows.~BT\*.* /T /grant administrators:F 
rmdir /S /Q C:\$Windows.~BT\