I have a hidden folder on my C:\ drive called $Windows.~WS that's 3 GB large after my Windows 10 upgrade.

Disk clean and CCleaner even with system files removal didn't remove it, so I'm wondering if it's safe to manually SHIFT+DEL it?

  • Updated answer with details added.
    – Alex S
    Aug 23, 2015 at 9:43
  • A more complete and comprehensive answer - superuser.com/a/961470/183467 - Question title Improvement will prevent DUPLICATE questions as it covers all 3 scenarios for this folder generation
    – Alex S
    Aug 26, 2015 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


When I downloaded the Windows 10 Media Creation Utility and ran it, I chose the create media for another PC option.


Run the tool:

Run the tool, if you didn't already select Run. (You need to be an Administrator on the PC to run it.)

If you're upgrading this PC, select Upgrade this PC now, and then follow the instructions to finish the upgrade.


If you want to create media for a different PC, select Create installation media for another PC. Use this table to choose the edition of Windows 10 that you want to create media for.

Additional article with detailed screen shots:


During the installation media creation process, there were these options:

  • x32
  • x64
  • Both

I chose to only create x64 .iso, even though I was thinking might to have a copy of both.

But from the folders files on C:\ drive, it apparently downloaded the WIM/ ESD files for both.

C:\$Windows.~WS\Sources\installx64.esd C:\$Windows.~WS\Sources\installx86.esd .. C:\$Windows.~WS\Sources\Windows\x64\sources\install.wim C:\$Windows.~WS\Sources\Windows\x64\sources\boot.wim .. C:\$Windows.~WS\Sources\Windows\x86\sources\install.wim C:\$Windows.~WS\Sources\Windows\x86\sources\boot.wim

The tool then can create a DVD or USB setup drive. I chose to create .iso file for Win 10 x64 and then saved it to an external HDD.

As per this Microsoft forums thread, it seems safe to eliminate.


Answer 1:

max green replied on July 30, 2015See

They are both temporary directories used by windows to update your system. It is safe to delete both to reclaim valuable space.

Microsoft has not updated the disk cleanup tool to delete $Windows.~WS yet (but you can delete it manually).

To delete them you need to change permissions first.

Right-click start, Command Prompt (admin)

Copy and paste each set of commands and press enter

You might need to press Y - to delete and change permissions

If it does not work and you get "Access Denied" errors - repeat the instructions again

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

Answer 2:

Here's a batch file so you dont have to manually type it the next time. Remember to right click and run as Admin.

Windows10_Cleanup.bat < This will take you to Google Drive where you can download the file.

If you get a SmartScreen error, just make the batch file yourself.

1) Open Notepad and copy the following

@echo off
@echo "This will delete the folder C:\$Windows.~WS and C:\$Windows.~BT after an update to reclaim space. Windows 10 only."
@echo --------------------------------
@echo If you get message "The system cannot find the file specified" it means the folder is already deleted.
@echo --------------------------------
RD /S /Q "C:\$Windows.~WS"
RD /S /Q "C:\$Windows.~BT"
@echo --------------------------------
@echo All done
@echo --------------------------------

2) Save as, select All file types and save as name.bat

All done.

Note: I am still wondering if I should back up the files and use it to create media for x86 now, or save both for future.


It's a staging directory for the update process.

There are some forum reports of safely deleting it, but the only official word so far seems to be "not yet".

  • I deleted it. It's safe. It was used by the installer. once installed it's not used
    – Ramhound
    Aug 2, 2015 at 5:03
  • It might help to include what this file is as part of your answer.
    – Journeyman Geek
    Aug 2, 2015 at 5:03
  • @JourneymanGeek - Updated answer with details added below.
    – Alex S
    Aug 23, 2015 at 9:44

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