Go back to an earlier build is a new feature introduced first with Windows 10. The feature can be used to downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7/8 (if you performed an upgrade earlier) or go back to a previous build of Windows 10 if you’re not happy with the current one.
The Go back to an earlier build can be accessed by opening Settings, clicking Update & security, and then click Recovery.
At times, when you click on the Get started button under Go back to an earlier build section to initiate restoring your Windows 10 to a previous build or version, you might get “We’re sorry, but you can’t go back. The files we need to take you back to a previous version of Windows were removed from this PC” message.
Well, if you’re getting “We’re sorry, but you can’t go back. The files we need to take you back to a previous version of Windows were removed from this PC” message, you can’t go back to a previous version or build of Windows using this method. You will need to remove Windows 10 and perform a clean install of the previous version of Windows if you want to use an earlier version of Windows.
The following are the three reasons why you’re getting the above error while trying to initiate a rollback or downgrade.
It’s been over 30 days since you upgraded to Windows 10
According to Microsoft, a user can rollback or downgrade to the previous version of Windows in the first month only, meaning you can’t use this method to downgrade after a month of the upgrade. Windows 10 automatically deletes files required for the downgrade operation after 30-days.
You deleted $Windows.~WS and $Windows.~BT folders
The above error message appears if you have deleted $Windows.~WS and $Windows.~BT folders to free up some disk space.
The $Windows.~WS and $Windows.~BT folders located under the root of the system drive are required to initiate and complete rollback operation. Without these folders, Windows can’t initiate a rollback.
To check if these folders exist:
Step 1: Open up This PC.
Step 2: Double-click on the drive where Windows 10 is installed. Click View and then check the box labeled Hidden Items to view hidden files and folders.
Step 3: If $Windows.~WS and $Windows.~BT folders exist and not deleted, these folders should now appear as shown in the picture below.
If those folders are missing, it could be because you have recently cleaned up Windows 10, either using Disk Cleanup utility or any other third-party cleaners.
If you’re sure that it’s been less than a month since you upgraded to Windows 10 or the current build of Windows 10 and haven’t deleted those folders, please try to run the rollback feature again after performing a reboot. If nothing works, have a chat with the Microsoft support team for free to get the issue resolved.
You upgraded from public build to preview build
I recently got the error while attempting to restore the public build after upgrading the build to an insider preview build of Windows 10. In short, if you have upgraded to an insider preview build of Windows 10, you can’t go back to the public build using this Go back to an earlier build feature. However, this method works when you are trying to downgrade from one public build to another one.
Performing a clean install of Windows 10 from USB/DVD is the only way to get back to a public build.
Lastly, if you’re trying to restore Windows 10 to a previous date, refer to our how to restore Windows 10 to an earlier date guide.
I still have windows.old folder but it didn’t let me down
Ho do I do a fresh install of Windows 8 in a Windows 10 computer with a fresh install that cannot go back?
A full drive backup is the safest method, before a clean install of Win 10. I didn’t trust this ‘Go Back’ nonesence. You then have an installation of Win 10 which can also be backed up also. Allowing the user an option to flip-flop between OS’s.