256 Characters: Long Path, Folder, File Name

Have you ever been in a situation where you received an error referring to a “file name too long” or similar? Many people in offices, organizations or even at home may run into that issue, perhaps encountering it while simply trying to copy a small file. Usually shortening the file name is not enough [if it is, then great!], instead a part of an entire PATH needs to be shortened. Windows has a 256 character limit in the address you see in Explorer. There’s pretty much no work around, and even the workarounds are a little risky, depending on what is needed with your data, both present and future. It is best to obey the limit [terrible, I know].

So, the word, ‘really’ = 6 characters; x 4 = 24; 24 x 11 = 264, more than the max allowed. Try creating this structure below off your  C:\ drive, and / or creating a ‘test.txt’ file: watch the errors fly at you!


But if you rename the first directory @ ‘Really4’ [C:\Really4\ etc etc] , then you will be under the max and proceed.

This happens more than you might think, especially in a workplace. Sometimes, organizations use Linux, SAN or NAS type storage devices that may not have this limit, but they may have Windows machines on the LAN. To make it work, the paths need to be shortened.

It is best to simply search the sometimes large directory structures and find the max offenders in advance. This is tedious, but the AWESOME, free “Path Length Checker” tool can locate the offenders with ease. Once located, shorten a folder or file name or two to get within the max, and then it Windows PCs can speak to the files.  This may need to be worked out with the owner of the folder in advance. Also, a guide of sorts with reasonable folder structure may need to be put together and communicated to the organization. Here is the tool, it is one of the best freeware tools I have ever used:


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