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How to Uninstall Windows 11 and Roll Back to Windows 10

Uninstall Windows 11
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

A lot of people are installing the preview build of Windows 11 just to see how it looks and feels. However, after a few hours or days, you may be thinking "what did I get myself into?" It's a beta OS so there can be bugs. Or perhaps you don't like some of the new UI elements like the obtrusive search box or the rounded corners.

Fortunately, if you want to stick with Windows 11, there are some tweaks you can make to bring it more in line with Windows 10. For example, you can make a registry tweak that lets you have the Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11. However, if you want to rollback to Windows 10, that's possible too, provided that you installed Windows 11 within the last 10 days.

After 10 days, Windows is likely to purge the old OS files, making it impossible to do a rollback, though reinstalling Windows 10 is always an option. We've seen a video which suggests that renaming the C:\Windows.old directory to C:\Windows.notold and then changing the name back to C:\WIndows.old could allow you to extend your Windows 11 test beyond 10 days, but you would have had to have done the first renaming within your initial 10-day window.

So, assuming you are within the timeframe, here's how to uninstall Windows 11 and roll back to Windows 10.

How to Uninstall Windows 11

1. Navigate to Settings->System->Recovery. You can launch Settings from the Start menu and then you'll find Recovery on the list of submenus.

Navigate to Settings->System->Recovery

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Click Go back next to Previous version of Windows.

Click Go back

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3. Check off one or more reasons for your uninstall when prompted.

Check off reasons

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4. Click "No, thanks" when asked to check for updates instead of rolling back. Microsoft would love to keep you on Windows 11, but if your mind is made up, it's made up.

Click no thanks

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5. Click Next.

Click Next

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6. Click Next again when warned that you need to remember your password from Windows 10. This should go without saying.

Click Next Again

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7. Click "Go back to earlier build." 

Click Go back to earlier build

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The system will now restart and go through a restoration process that should take a few minutes. 

Restoring previous version of Windows

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When that completes, you're back on Windows 10. However, if our experience is any guide, Windows will try to install Windows 11 Preview again right away, taking you back to the place you just left. Obviously, you don't want that.

8. Navigate to Settings->Update & Security->Windows Insider program.

9. Toggle "stop getting preview builds" to on.

Toggle stop getting preview builds to on

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The menu should refresh itself and show a "Restart now" button. If it does not, click through to another submenu and then return to the Windows Insider Program submenu.

10. Click Restart now.

Click Restart Now

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11. Ensure that your Windows 10 is now unenrolled from the Insider Program. You can do this by navigating to Settings->Update & Security->Windows Insider program and making sure you see the "Get started" button.

The Windows Insider Program menu in Windows 10 Settings

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

What if Windows 10 Tries to Update to Windows 11 Anyway?

So you've left the Insider Program, but perhaps Windows was in the middle of downloading a Windows 11 preview build when you changed your Insider setting. Unfortunately, it may not stop the download / install process and will ask you to "Restart to install the newest Windows feature update." At least, that's what happened to us when we were writing this tutorial. Don't restart right away.

Windows 10 may want to upgrade you, even after you've left the Insider program.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Instead, you can get rid of the downloaded Windows 11 update files, before rebooting by deleting all the files in the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder. We recommend hitting Shift + Delete after highlighting them so they are permanently deleted and not just moved to the recycle bin. Note also that you will be asked for administrative permission to delete these files and, because there could be more than 9GB of files there, it will take some time.

Delete pending Windows updates

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Select  "Update and Restart" from your power menu so that Windows will attempt to use the updates and see that the files are no longer there. If that doesn't work, try using the Disk Cleanup app and clicking on "Clean up system files" before you reboot again. Provided that you really left the Insider program, it should stop trying to install Windows 11.

If you want to try Windows 11 again in the future, just return to this menu and click the "Get started" button.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.
  • BTM18
    Why?
    Reply
  • excalibur1814
    Surely if you've installed Windows 11, you know what you're doing!??! Also, a clean install would be the preferred method. Nice article though.
    Reply
  • to6k0v
    Windows 11 was pushed on my laptop although I have the setting disabled for insider builds. I didn't want this nor liked it. I'm exceptionally not fond of the new Mac feel of the menus. I'd rather make a clean reinstall than keep it. Thanks for the article, literally saved me.
    Reply
  • DSzymborski
    excalibur1814 said:
    Surely if you've installed Windows 11, you know what you're doing!??! Also, a clean install would be the preferred method. Nice article though.

    If there's anything I've discovered in the last two weeks, there are definitely people installing Windows 11 who do not understand what they're doing.
    Reply
  • TomsCereal
    Thank you for this article! I tried out Windows 11, and based on what I use Windows for it works well. I like some of the changes! I'm sure the overall interface will freak out some people, but for me I liked how the network settings showed brief information about the connection, such as which WiFi protocol it utilized and what band as well as link speed. The new interface does feel kinda Android like though...

    The brief trial I did with this new OS will be enough for me to switch to it when it comes out officially. I am grateful that I was able to get back on Windows 10 though. I was a bit hasty to try out Windows 11, and was not prepared to lose Windows 10 in case of any bugs! For me, all of my programs worked as intended. I feel that Windows 11 is Windows 10 with a different interface shell.
    Reply
  • UwU Wuw
    Admin said:
    If it has been 10 days or less since your Windows 11 upgrade, you can rollback to Windows 10.

    How to Uninstall Windows 11 and Roll Back to Windows 10 : Read more
    Rolling back wont delete any data right?
    Reply
  • UwU Wuw
    TomsCereal said:
    Thank you for this article! I tried out Windows 11, and based on what I use Windows for it works well. I like some of the changes! I'm sure the overall interface will freak out some people, but for me I liked how the network settings showed brief information about the connection, such as which WiFi protocol it utilized and what band as well as link speed. The new interface does feel kinda Android like though...

    The brief trial I did with this new OS will be enough for me to switch to it when it comes out officially. I am grateful that I was able to get back on Windows 10 though. I was a bit hasty to try out Windows 11, and was not prepared to lose Windows 10 in case of any bugs! For me, all of my programs worked as intended. I feel that Windows 11 is Windows 10 with a different interface shell.
    did rolling back to win10 delete all your existing data?
    Reply
  • TomsCereal
    Rolling back did NOT delete any data for me. In fact, I haven’t noticed anything out of place since the rollback as far as preferences or settings go – it’s like I never tried the update!

    That being said, I ensured that I had my data backed up BEFORE the upgrade. You never know when an OS upgrade or downgrade will go awry. I was fully prepared to reinstall win10 if I needed to.
    Reply