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Why does windows sbs 2011 allow me to save long file names but then not allow re-naming or deleting.

Posted on 2014-09-18
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Last Modified: 2016-02-25
In Brief:
How can we bypass the 255 maximum character length of a file in a folder tree with many nested folders?

The full story:
We are using Windows SBS server 2011 and have a department that uses very long file/folder addresses. They use many nested folders, finally finishing with a long file name (these are usually Architect construction drawings, notorious for having long technical names).
We are having many difficulties with these files. I know there is a 255 character limit to the 'Total' file name which would include the drive letter, spaces and any other characters in the file address. I cannot rename, delete, move or copy these files (obviously due to the maximum 255 limit). What is really annoying is that Windows allows the creation of the file, but then does not allow any other file operation. It also allows the opening of the files!
The only way around the problem has been to shorten the name of some of the nested folders, which is ok for the odd file, but this department has hundreds of folders and thousands of files.
Attention has been focused on this problem because of a recent CryptoLocker infection on the file server and the need to restore previous versions/backups.
We use Sophos anti-virus and their tech support advised us that using ‘previous versions’ to restore was quicker and simpler than restoring from Backup. Using the backup would have entailed the deletion of each folder tree first and then the copying across from our NAS storage the replacement folder tree.
All seemed to go well and we reverted back to files and folders from 4 hours before the infection.
Or so it seemed!
Now (ten days later with no previous version or backup to rely on from the infection date) we find many many folders are empty. There was obviously a problem restoring the file name that exceeded the 255 character limit.
We are resigned to the fact that these files are lost. However moving forwards is there a way of getting around the address length issue without forcing the department to reducing the name length of each of the folder trees (they create many of these extended folder trees each week, usually from disks containing the folders and files from clients).
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Question by:NELMO
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3 Comments
 
LVL 81

Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 40330136
use the format  "\\?\c:\longfilepath or use the subst  dos command line tool subst M: drive:path
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LVL 96

Accepted Solution

by:
Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 40330258
Or a Junction/link/network drive to change the path to something shorter.

Example:  D:\User Shared Folders\Mitchell Johnson, Esquire\Vitally Important Documents\2014
Share "2014" as "MJ-VID-2014" and map a network drive to \\server\MJ-VID-2014 and now you've shortened the path for all files in that folder to X:\ (where x is the network drive letter you selected), saving (in this example) 79 characters.
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Author Closing Comment

by:NELMO
ID: 40399007
Apologies for my lateness.

I hope you are both ok with the share. I have used both of your suggestions successfully, as well as getting the two or three users that this problem affects to look at their logic in how they create folders and save files.
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