Windows 10 Being Downloaded to PCs Whether You Want it or Not

don't want Windows10It seems Microsoft is so keen to achieve its “billions of devices running Windows 10” prediction that the company has taken to downloading Windows 10 even to systems where the user has not reserved a copy and has no intention of upgrading. <source>

It should be pointed out that this unsolicited download only affects Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users who have automatic updates enabled. Still, if the reports are accurate, it’s a sneaky tactic which once again crosses the boundaries of trust. Besides the obvious trust issue, depriving users of any choice is inherently bad practice as this is quite a large download which has the potential to adversely affect those on limited data plans and/or with limited free space on the hard drive.

Check to see if Windows 10 has been covertly downloaded:

  • You can find out if Windows 10 has already been downloaded to your system by checking to see if the drive Windows is installed on contains a folder called $Windows.~BT. If it does, Windows installation files have already been downloaded even if you did not explicitly accept the offer (this is a hidden folder so make sure the option to view hidden files and folders is enabled in Folder options).

There have already been reports of similar activity on domain-joined computers but that could be understandable given certain circumstances. However, if these recent reports are accurate and this is indeed occurring on home computers, it constitutes a clear breach of trust by Microsoft. Unsolicited downloading of huge amounts of data eating up bandwidth and disk space, minus any indication that it will ever be required, is simply inexcusable.

Yet Another Trap for Unsuspecting Users

windows 10 upgrade

I am running a Windows 8.1 Pro system which I do NOT want upgraded to Windows 10. A couple of days ago I was just about to install a number of important updates when I noticed that the total download size was being reported as 2.9+GBs. On checking through the optional updates I saw that the Windows 10 upgrade download had somehow been enabled, it certainly wasn’t done by yours truly. It was easy enough to disable it of course but it’s just as well I noticed before proceeding.

So, if you are in the same boat running a system that you don’t want upgraded, and Windows 10 is showing ready for download (as per the above screenshot), I suggest you check carefully prior to installing any updates.


26 thoughts on “Windows 10 Being Downloaded to PCs Whether You Want it or Not”

  1. Yes, I forgot and left Auto Updates on in W7 and had to uninstall the KB3035583 again, I have since turned Auto Updates off.

    1. Their are two more updates, KB2952664,KB3021917 that need to be uninstalled and hidden in W7. I deleted the $Windows.~WS folder, will have to see if MS will try to install all those updates again.

  2. YES I have this darned file in my NOW FULL C: !!! Only a few GB left of a 350GB drive.
    Just this last couple of weeks I have been struggling with an issue pertaining to C: being full. (Asus ROG G74S laptop Win7 64bit 4x350GB internal drives)
    Now I know why!!! x:

    I already knew it was getting towards full because I have a HUGE photo folder (My Pictures) & I have been seeking ways to permanently move it to D:
    I actually followed advice I found on this site but the “Move” button (My Pictures>properties> move folder) was not available to me like the instructions said it would be.
    To best of my knowledge I am already always logged in as administrator so if available it should have been there to use.

    Anyway I could ditch the update & delete the $Windows.~BT file but I wonder if it will be like trying to get rid of the “get Win 10” logo on the bar. I can get rid of it following directions I found here but it reappears on next start up due to automatic updates. I really don’t have time to always be vetting the updates so canning auto updates is not for me.

    Rotten sods @$#*&!! ggrrrrr

    1. Why not use an external drive or a pen drive for you photo folder? Delete the photo folder from your C:\ and then you can move photos you may deem important back on to you C:\. I personally keep all my photos on a pen drive and just keep the more recent photos on C:\.

    2. @ ClissAT
      There are several virtual folders (ie Library) in Win7, and that’s what I suspect you’re trying.

      Go to c:UsersYourUserName and right click on My Pictures then click properties.

      Properties window will open and you’ll find the move option on the Location tab.

      **If these pictures are important I would highly recommend you keep at least one backup on a separate drive**

      1. @ David Hartsock
        Thanks for that info. But I have no ‘Users’ tab when I click C: properties or on the Start button.
        I back up & image almost daily via 2TB Seagate external hard drive using Memeo image software plus I do other backups.

        I need to cart all these photos around with me when I go to do a job & this laptop is already heavy enough without adding an extra hard drive. Everyone wants top quality these days which means each photo could be around 17mb & there may be several versions of same photo.

        A suggestion was to remove the second internal unused 700GB hard drive & replace with a 2TB drive but that still means moving the My Pictures folder onto the new drive. Currently the My Pictures folder is on the same drive as the OS which is not very good forward planning on the part of MS I think.

        1. ClissAT, you are looking in the wrong place. As per Dave’s advice; you need to go to Start>Computer, then double click and open C drive. Now double click and open the Users folder, then double click and open the user folder under your name. Now right click the Pictures folder and select Properties. In the Properties window, open the Location tab and you should now see a “Move” button.

        2. Oh my goodness Jim, thankyou for those directions, they worked! Now why couldn’t the ‘experts’ tell me I was looking in the wrong place? I even asked if I might be & got no response.
          Now after I do a back up & update the image, if I move it & other software can’t find it or it all goes pear shaped for some obscure reason, can I just move it back & all will be repaired? That easy? Or will I create more problems? lol

    1. I applied this registry hack to W7 and it seems to have worked. After applying the hack I reran WU and all the hidden entries to installing W10 are gone. Will keep a close eye on W7 updates.

  3. Yes, ive been infected by the Windows 10 virus too … 3.92 gigs worth. 9/10/15 is the file date. I recall I was on the phone that day cussing out Comcast for the crappy slow internet service because my system became unresponsive and very slow for several hours for no apparent reason ….. 🙁 I guess for the first time in Comcast’s history, I owe them an apology …

    thank you for helping me understand what really happened.

  4. Andrew Whitburn

    I have 2 folders: $Windows_BT and $Windows_WS. Any idea what the other folder is?

    1. That second folder (WS) is also associated with the Windows 10 download. Not 100% certain but I think it contains the files needed to support resuming an upgrade.

  5. Carol Jacobson

    I have Windows 7 and I’d like Windows 10 on a seperate partition which is now blank. Can I use the “secret” Wndows 10 install on that partition without installing Win 8.1 first?

    1. Not sure what you mean by “secret Windows 10 install” Carol. If you mean the hidden recovery partition, no you can’t use that to upgrade.

  6. Just checked if Windows has been downloaded to my computer which run Windows 8.1 and the automatic download has twice tried to load (8/28 and 9/4) and both times failed. I had no idea this was even going on.

  7. Hi
    I checked for this folder by enabling “view hidden files and folders” in folder options and it did not show, however when I also unchecked “hide protected operating system files” I was then able to see it. Is it worth deleting this file, I ask this because when I clicked on properties for this folder and then click on previous versions there are 10 versions displayed.Three for Sep11,three for Sep10, three for Sep 9, and one for Sep 7 Does this mean Microsoft are continually downloading it,therefore making it pointless to delete it. I have limited computer knowledge perhaps someone could explain what is happening. By the way my folder size is 5.63Gb

    1. Joe, I can’t see any problem with deleting these folder just so long as you are not planning on upgrading. The simplest way to prevent all these files downloading again is to turn off automatic updates, change the setting to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them”.

      1. Thankyou Jim for the prompt reply.I will probably take Winows10 but not until near the end of the free offer period in the anticipation a lot of problems and questions will be resolved by then. At some stage they will stop support for security updates for my current Windows 7 and then I would need to upgrade to 10 and probably have to pay for it. So I will leave the Windows 10 folder for now. By the way I checked the folder size again today and it is now only 160Mb down from the previous 5.3Gb Anyone like to offer an explanation as to why this has happened


  8. Just searched in my update file and nothing shows up . I turned off auto update, but am unclear how to search for hidden updates, can you elaborate on that procedure?

    1. Mary, I think you mean hidden files and folders.

      Go to Control Panel>Folder Options. Now, open the View tab and scroll down until you see “Don’t show hidden files, folders or drives”, and just below that “Show hidden files, folders and drives”.

      If the first option (Don’t show) is enabled, change it to “Show” and you’ll then be able to see all hidden files and folders.

  9. girldownunder

    Sh*tty of M$ to produce yet another “strong-arm”, force-feeding technique as this? And guess what? 1) The older folks think they HAVE TO run it- like they’ll not be secure if they don’t. And 2) here in AU, a lot of them are on pensions & a per month quota of 4GB or less! I’d sign a class-action, for sure!

    I am, as we speak, trying to bring one back to 8.1 from the “brink of 10”. In doing the rollback (via their own set-up under recovery), the system is somewhat screwed. Not sure the extent, atm- but for sure, task scheduler is borked, amongst other things…sfc found issues it “cannot repair”, so trying it in safe mode before moving on to DSIM.

    This is seriously total B.S.

  10. Is there anything slimier that Microsoft can do to demonstrate to all its loyal fans that they see you as a chump, a victim, a patsy, someone beneath contempt, not a Customer? What more can they do to earn our hate? This is so bad that had someone predicted it a year ago everyone would have been flaming the poster. Now it’s reality and all the Microsoft drones are still recommending Windows 10 as the best thing that ever happened to computers.

    No Windows 10 on my machines ever. It will join Windows 8 and 8.1 as operating systems I’ll never see outside of a Virtualbox.

    1. girldownunder

      Try Linux Mint. I’m sure you’ll feel the same relief that I did…

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