Fix: The file name(s) would be too long for the destination folder error message

Recently while browsing through some of my backup files and folders on my Windows PC, I came across some old backup files that I wanted to delete. I did not have any use for an old backup, so wanted to delete the compressed .tar file.

But when I went on to delete it, I received the following error message:

The file name(s) would be too long for the destination folder

The file name(s) would be too long for the destination folder

Apparently, the compressed file contained a JPG image file, which my Windows was unable to delete. Using the Skip option, I deleted all but this file. Now why did this happen?

Under standard  Windows file naming system, the total name cannot or path exceed 259 characters. This includes the folder path, file name and file extension. If it does, then when you try to delete it, you will receive this error.

Maximum Path Length Limitation: In the Windows API (with some exceptions discussed in the following paragraphs), the maximum length for a path is MAX_PATH, which is defined as 260 characters. A local path is structured in the following order: drive letter, colon, backslash, name components separated by backslashes, and a terminating null character. For example, the maximum path on drive D is “D:\some 256-character path string” where “” represents the invisible terminating null character for the current system codepage. (The characters < > are used here for visual clarity and cannot be part of a valid path string) says MSDN.

Filename too long for destination folder

Now in my case the full folder path was:

D:\ Site Backups\ Misc\ backup-4.7.2012_23-41-31_thegadget.tar\ backup-4.7.2012_23-41-31_thegadget\ backup-4.7.2012_23-41-31_thegadget\ homedirect\ 2\ public_html2\ wp-content2\ uploads\ 2011\ 08

And the file name was really long to – like Music-producer-…-and-video-games.jpg – as can be seen in the image.

I opened its location and tried to delete or rename the file. I was not even offered the option to do so. If you can rename it, fine – but I wasn’t offered this option.

File name too long 2So I went ‘Back’ to its subfolder and tried to delete it. No success. I received the same error message.

File name too long 3I then used the Move To folder option to move the folder to my D Drive. This worked! The path had suddenly become shorter, and I was able to delete.

This simple trick worked in my case, and I hope it helps you too.

Sometimes simply rebooting, running Check Disk or using third-party delete freeware are also known to help delete undeletable files and folders.

If nothing helps, then you may want to have a look at this Microsoft thread where some advanced ways have been suggested using CMD and Robocopy.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com and a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows for the period 2006-16. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.