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.


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).


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!


  1. 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? -_-

  2. jco says

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

  3. 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 ?

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Xedger says

    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

  7. WoOziE says

    – 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?

  8. admin says

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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!

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