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   ► KBIT Water-Coo...Windows Users   Print This     
Windows Users:
Windows Max Path+Filename Limit
Posted 46 months ago on 5/14/2016
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 A FAQ from our Windows FAQ Page



What is the maximum file + path name allowed in Windows?


BEST ANSWER: The maximum for both FAT32 and NTFS is a combined 255 characters. This is true for all 32bit and 64bit Windows operating systems as of May 2016 including Windows 10.

MAX_PATH CONSTANT: FAT32 technically has no full-path limit and the NTFS limit is 32,767. However, Microsoft limits the allowable size of a full-path ([drive][:][path][each separating\][null]) to 260 characters with the MAX_PATH constanst. This means that most programs can handle and are limited to a path + filename length of 255 characters plus drive letter, colon, separating \'s, and a null.

EXCEPTIONS: There are exceptions, but you should avoid them. For example, you can use the DOS SUBST command to shorten a really long path, some languages allow coders to ignore the MAX_PATH constant, you can install the Unicode version of Windows, and finally, you can use "\\?\" prefix before the path to use paths greater than 260 characters (replace ? with a drive letter).

MALWARE NOTE: Some hackers exploit the exceptions above to cause problems, aggravation, and wasted time of normal healthy humans. Likely because they are just defective inferior humans incapable of interacting with others. Same level of social skills as the elementary boy who says he hates the girl he likes.

What about Resiliant File System (ReFS)? As of May 2016, yes, the limit still applies. ReFS is the new file system Microsoft has introduced starting with Windows Server 2012.

Why doesn't Microsoft change it? My opinion is that it is because changing it would break legacy applications and the 255 limit is not that serious for most, yet. Plus, relatively easy workarounds exist for I.T. professionals to implement for larger entities. The problem is that most applications error check for too long paths so those would all have to be rewritten. It's a big step Microsoft will have to take at some point, but as of May 2016 Microsoft has not. When they do, it is likely to be solved similar to the 8.3 LFN used to transition from FAT to FAT32. There will be problems, but it will set the path to the future.


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FAQ Contributed By Mike Prestwood:

Mike Prestwood is a drummer, an author, and creator of the PrestwoodBoards online community. He is the President & CEO of Prestwood IT Solutions. Prestwood IT provides Coding, Website, and Computer Tech services. Mike has authored 6 computer books and over 1,200 articles. As a drummer, he maintains and has authored 3 drum books. If you have a project you wish to discuss with Mike, you can send him a private message through his PrestwoodBoards home page or call him 9AM to 4PM PST at 916-726-5675 x205.

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