How To Downgrade From Windows 7 To XP (Step-by-Step)

With the Windows 7 Release Candidate expiration date is just a few days away, many of Windows 7 RC users are asking a way to downgrade to Windows XP/Vista. In this guide, we will show you how to downgrade from Windows 7 to XP.

downgrade from Windows 7 to xp

And if you want to downgrade to Vista from Windows 7, please refer our how to downgrade from Windows 7 to Vista article.

1. Open your Windows 7 drive (usually C drive) and make sure that you haven’t deleted the Windows.old folder, which was created by Windows while installing Windows 7 on XP drive. Note that without the help of Windows.old folder you won’t be able to downgrade from Windows 7.

Windows old folder

2. Now check the size of Windows.old folder by right-clicking and then selecting properties. Make sure that Windows.old folder size is less than two times the amount of free space available on Windows 7 drive (C drive). If the Windows.old folder size is two times as large as the Windows 7 drive free space, disable system restore feature and also disk cleanup to get some free space.

Windows old folder size

Please note down your Windows 7 drive letter and also DVD drive letter before proceeding to the next step.

3. Insert your Windows 7 installation disc in the drive and reboot your machine. Press any key when prompted to do so.

4. Select your language, time, keyboard type and then hit Next button to continue.

 install Windows screen

5. In the Install Windows screen, click Repair your computer option to open System Recovery Options.

repairyourcomputer_thumb

6. Here select your Windows 7 OS and note down your Windows 7 Drive letter before clicking Next.

select Windows os

7. In the following window, click Command Prompt to start downgrading from Windows 7 to XP.

select command prompt

8. First you need to move all the contents of your Windows 7 drive to a folder. So type the following commands one by one and then hit enter after each command (here “D” is your Windows 7 drive letter).

D:

Md Win7

Move Windows Win7\Windows

Move “Program Files” “Win7\Program Files”

Move Users Win7\Users

Attrib –h –s –r ProgramData

Move ProgramData Win7\ProgramData

Rd “Documents and Settings”

commands first

9. Next you need to copy all the contents of Windows.old folder to the drive. Again, type all the commands mentioned below one by one and then hit enter after each command.

move /y d:\Windows.old\Windows d:\

move /y “d:\Windows.old\Program Files” d:\

move /y “d:\Windows.old\Documents and Settings” d:\

Commands second

10. Next task is to restore the boot sector by entering the following command:

E:\boot\bootsect /nt52 d:

(Where E is your DVD driver letter & D is OS drive letter)

bootloader successfully updated

11. Finally restore the boot.ini file by executing the following commands:

Attrib –h –s –r boot.ini.saved

Copy boot.ini.saved boot.ini

12. Type Exit and reboot your machine to start using your Windows XP again. You are done! If you want to free up some disk space, delete Win7 folder in the root of your XP drive. Good luck!

Comments

  1. Morcigs says

    Hi. I have a Lenovo 3000 J Series PC and i tried the boot sector command and it said ” Drive is not ready”. Now I cant boot my pc up. What Do I do?

  2. Mukul Goyal says

    In step 5, I am not getting option of “Repair”

    I simply ‘What to know……’ line and then ‘Copyright……’ line.

    Suggestions please.

  3. junel says

    I used DBAN to wipe my HDD and I don’t have the Windows.old folder. I don’t have a CD to install XP on my laptop.. All I got is a bootable flash drive with Windows XP. How am I supposed to do sir? How am I supposed to do a clean install of Windows XP? -_-

  4. jco says

    Awesome! Thanks!
    just one thing, is it completely safe to delete the Win7 folder at the end?

  5. rambo says

    What if i want to downgrade windows 7 to windows xp.. And i dnt have the windows.old file in my pc .. Then wt am i suppose to do ?

  6. wardani says

    I did everything just till this command:

    E:\boot\bootsect /nt52 d:

    It keeps telling me that the system cannot find the path specified!

    what should I do in this case?
    Please HELP!

  7. David says

    Hello, if I have activated windows 7, when installing windows xp I’ll have to re-activate or windows 7 license be valid.
    thanks
    David
    Spain

  8. Xedger says

    SIR,
    I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HELP !
    As I accidentally upgraded to windows 7 from XP . Then I couldn’t use Skype somehow tried everything including booting , updating too (I REALLLY NEEDED This SOFTWARE)
    but ur article saved me from the hassle of getting my C.P.U to the computer technician

  9. WoOziE says

    So,
    – i have windows.old folder (it has 5gb)
    – My laptop has many space (70gb free of 111 -_-‘) since it got formatd, the problem is that the guy installed Windows 7 Ultimate, which i think it is making the computer processing bad, since i have only 700mb RAM and processor 1.60 GHz, so i want to downgrade to XP to see what happens
    Problem is… i dont have the CD of Windows7 ,any chance do it without it?

  10. admin says

    Josue
    You have no other option but to remove Windows 7 from your PC and do a clean install of Windows XP.

  11. Josue says

    I don’t have Windows.old, what other option do I have? Since when I install Windows XP in the Windows 7 Ultimate laptop from MS-DOS it says that the drive (C:\) is not found.

  12. ken-ohki says

    what if i dont have a windows.old folder?
    i got a inspiron 1525 for 50 bucks i and reformatted over vista 32
    with 7 to find out the oem wont support the 64bit so im trying to downgrade to xp i have a disk and product key but it refuses to let me install xp and when i stwitch the boot to dvdrw drive its loads tghe setup then fails to dectect the hard drive

  13. JayB says

    Worked perfectly! Thank you! the only error was due to me using E for my dvd drive instead of d: but once I realized my error after re-reading the instructions I figured it out. I felt like an IT professional! Thanks!

  14. Eric says

    When doing the steps above, i get all the way through 9 with no problems, but I get this line after attempting to complete step 10 (My drive is C: for the OS and D: for the DVD drive)

    D:\boot\bootsect is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

    Any info on getting this fixed would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Eric.

  15. admin says

    Yes, you can. But that will be a clean install of Windows XP. In other words, if you don’t have Windows.old folder, you need to use your Windows XP installation CD to format the Windows 7 drive and then install Windows XP.

  16. Dickcon says

    If I dont have Windows.old folder, can I format Win7 and install Win xp. please reply?? thanks ..

  17. Leonardo says

    Grazie, I could kiss you man, damn who would’ve thought in this day and age I needed to downgrade. Thanks a lot bro!

  18. kgz says

    Help: On my comp Windows 7 is on C drive and DVD is on D drive. I’m a bit confused- I followed instruction and on step 6 on picture it shows Windows 7 on D drive while on my comp it showed on C drive. Should I continue to put D drive according to instruction or should I change to C and D drives?

  19. momoonetwo says

    the driver i got only is compadeble with 2000 and xp. is there a way i can fix that so it will install without downgrading my pc?

  20. asflhkgr says

    Help when i type in Md Win7 in the command prompt it says access is denied

  21. digis says

    hey can somebody help me i have wndows 7 and there were when i bought the computer. is there any way to change the to windows xp. i tried all tipes of windowses but it didnt let me instal it. if somebody knows how to help please!!!!

  22. steve says

    Blue Screen of Death? HOW TO SOLVE IT !!!

    1.Restart The compt. And pressF2 ( to enter setup ).

    2.Change SATA mode into : IDE Mode.

    3.Press F10 to save the change? and exit.

    4.Try again to setup.

    5. Finished…. Enjoy the Installation

  23. vijayakumar says

    sir ,

    i want to convert win7 to win xp, i have win 7 original key.My software working only xp so you give me solution sir thank you

  24. Ramesh says

    How about the Product key? After i downgrade to XP, it ask me to activate XP again. My windows 7 is invalid for that,so what to do ?

  25. aggie says

    breyjhan, mine did this, on the start menu on the search type in “Command Prompt” and then the window appears and you should be able to start from step 8 :) thank me later haha
    also, at step 11, I am getting a message saying “The device is not ready” it would be greatly appreciated if anybody could help…

  26. Phil says

    I also cannot find the Windows.old folder, my Windows 7 laptop came with Home Edition pre-imstalled but I upgraded to Windws 7 Ultimate which didn’t install the Windows.old files and folder??? In this case it should have even if I upgraded to Windows 7 Professional as I understand it

    I need to downgrade to Windows XP because not all installers can be runned as administrator or in compatibility mode, some work and some just refuse to install without showing any errors

    I have also tried to install Windows XP using my old laptop’s Windows XP installation disk, but it appears as a virus to my new laptop with Windows 7 currently running on it even after a successful installation, so there is really no way I can downgrade unless Microsoft adds a download for this

  27. james says

    this isn’t very useful since my laptop came with windows 7 from the very start so there is no windows.old folder….

  28. Sol says

    Hi, what is the content of Windows.old, is that the Win xp folder that created after u upgrade to Win 7? or it content the win 7 also..?

  29. breyjhan says

    guys i need some help…
    my windows cannot start normally…
    its only run in a safe mode until it cannot start in a safe mode. what i do ?

  30. Viet says

    A perfect tutorial. Worked perfectly. Your detailed instructions w/ screen-caps were greatly appreciated.

  31. meenamata says

    Hi Guys,

    Wonderfull tutorial,
    Was very helpfull, and worked like a charm…
    Thanks So Much for your help.

    Meenamata

  32. Nwankwo obioha says

    How to downgrade from window 7 ultimate to window xp without losing any files

  33. stephen says

    What if i bought this computer with windows 7 pre installed, i do not have the windows.old folder???

  34. Emma says

    i have all of my business files on my computer can i downgrade without losing those???

  35. rolling says

    =( i didnt knew we cant downgrade after we install new version :(

    but is any other way to install without windows.old or doing clean format?

  36. rock says

    please help i am getting some error on 6th step after clicking on next there is some error of dvd is not compatible with window install smthing like dat, actually dat dvd is having 6 types of OS in it ex win 7 ultimate, win7 interprise, 32x , 64x etc. what to do ?

  37. gangadharamurthy says

    this is good soft wear in india and all peoples are work easy and good softwear .my home peopel are use this soft wear

  38. sandeep says

    I cant find d windows.old folder…
    is there any alternate soln for installing xp

  39. Sheldon says

    I don’t have a “repair your computer”. Can i please have some help?

  40. John says

    I dont get a repair your computer line in section 5.
    I dont have an installation disk for windows 7 only a reinstallation

  41. Nanali says

    Only worked when you have the windows.old. This folder contains all your documents, files, etc when you upgrade to windows 7 say xp to windows or windows7 to windows 7. A person that keeps this folder after reformatting is not wise in the because it sometimes huge in size. So in such circumstance that you do not have this windows.old crap how can i downgrade???

  42. tina says

    the OS of my laptop is Windows 7 but the system we are using in our office is windows XP which is compatible to our program. Is it okey to downgrade my current OS to XP without any effect to my files? Are the procedured stated abouve will work to what i need to do to my unit?

    Thank you.
    Tina

  43. Barmasai says

    its awesome because it never worked out furthermore because i never ever even give a try.
    Thank you

  44. Ghil says

    thanks alot it wrks for me on my,loptop now i, want to do the same thing but my windows old is (000) it contains 148 files on 63 folders is this normal i need help pls.

  45. Appu says

    I am having HP Pavilion DV Series Laptop,
    I want to format my laptop installing fresh copy of Windows XP,
    Now i am having Windows 7 and when i formatted last time i deleted the widows.old folder.. So many errors are occuring so i am searching for solution about that but all the people telling that it is unable to format except that folder,
    So, please tell me the solution for that if anyone knows the alternate way to format and to install XP.

  46. Kogure says

    I’m trying to downgrade a new laptop with win 7 to xp, but every time i put the xp disc, and it start uploading the data, i got a blue screen

    any ideas how i can solve this?

  47. silas27 says

    windows.old folder will be deleted if you reformatted your pc to windows 7.
    if the “repair my computer” button is missing in the installer cd, create a repair disc of windows 7 and use it instead of the windows 7 installer cd.
    you can downgrade windows 7 to xp by reformating your pc with a windows xp disc.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  48. Jimmy says

    Same here..cannot find windows.old folder. I think it is automaticaly deleted after installing win7 in some machines

  49. admin says

    Samyur, you must have the Windows.old folder to be able to download to XP. Else fresh installation is the only solution.

  50. samyar says

    One should need windows.old folder if Win7 installed on Win XP – what if Win 7 was already installed and need to downgrade to Win XP == any suggestions please

  51. samyar says

    If i dont have Windows.old folder I can format Win7 and can install Win xp. thats right any one has done that. thanks

  52. FoXX says

    another way to fresh XP instal instead of Win7… just go to ur bios setting & change ur HD setting(sata to Ide)thn partion&format …& instal a new XP…

  53. JVH says

    When I go to complete step 11 it works fine but then it asks me to “Overwirte boot.ini? (Yes/No/All)”
    what should i answer cause it sys to type “exit” which does nothing except propt me again for the same thing.
    If I say Yes, it says Access is denied

  54. paras_b2 says

    On executing Step 11 it says “file not found ” .when I ignore the 2 steps in step 11 ,exit and try to login it says “NTLDR missing “…Any suggestions ??

  55. Tijblar says

    I try to start windows xp but the pc says that the hal.dll file is missing and i can’t start my pc :S what should I do?

  56. admin says

    Yes, you must have Windows.old folder. If you don’t have, doing a clean install is the only option.

  57. mugen says

    If there isn’t a windows.old folder, will you have to format the drive and do a clean install of XP? thanks.

  58. Jay says

    Abrak, you are a fucking idiot. If you read the first two paragraphs, it specifically says you can’t. There is no possible way.

    Please, remove yourself from the gene pool immediately. I don’t want to consider the idea of you having children.

  59. Thehan says

    It’s simply brilliant – I followed the steps and managed to revert back to Win XP.

    Many many thanks for the step-by-step guide!

  60. Will says

    How about the Product key? After i downgrade to XP, it ask me to activate XP again. My windows 7 is invalid for that. Thanks

  61. Peter says

    I have a Carlson Plotter, a new W7 downgraded to XP pro system worked fine. I then changed to W7 virtual XP mode, the plotter and other stuff failed or ran very slowly.
    Found your Step by Step method to get back to XP.
    It worked and amazingly the software worked in the un locked state all as before.
    This has saved the day.
    Thanks for your help it was 100% correct, except for that line entered incorrectly.
    Regards,

    Peter Green

  62. jair says

    hey on step 10 it gives me a msg that says “the system cannot find the drive spcified ” any suggestions?

  63. Annie says

    On executing Step 11 it says “file not found ” .when I ignore the 2 steps in step 11 ,exit and try to login it says “NTLDR missing “…Any suggestions ??

  64. Dpeezy says

    on step 8 I can’t move any files, it says “file not found” or something like that. Please help.

  65. I Hate W7 Now :'( says

    Hey, i dont have that “Repair your computer” O.o is there another way to do it? :(

  66. Miguel says

    I just wanted to say thank you for this step-by-step process. I was able to do it quite easily & I hope you know that it means a lot. Thank you.

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