MAX_PATH in Windows (path depth character limit)
Posted on 2012-08-24
I need some clarity on MAX_PATH in Windows.
We primarily work on Windows 7 32bit machines with basic NTFS file systems.
I understand that the path depth character limit in Windows is 260, including the NULL terminator. I also understand that the NTFS file system itself allows approximately 32,767 characters in a path. Certain Windows API Unicode functions permit an extended-length path up to this limit as well.
I was backing up (Copying) files, with full paths, from a Windows 7 laptop to a folder on a Windows 2003 server (NTFS) today and it would not allow me to copy certain files as the path limit had been exceeded. The longest, including file name was 309 characters. I had to shorten some folder and file names in order to copy them across.
What I don't understand is if Windows only allows 259 visible characters, why does it allow a user to create a path depth, including file name, greater than 260 characters?
What other challenges, besides copying, can we face if users are exceeding their path limits?