Folder Length Limitations
Posted by Selwyn Pendergast on 12 November 2019 10:07 AM

generally speaking Windows has a folder length limit of 252 characters, but that comes with caveats. In real-world, common usage, the max is 247. Here is why:

The maximum Windows filename length to the operating system is 260 characters, however that includes a number of required characters that lower the effective number.

From the 260, you must allow room for the following:

  • Drive letter
  • Colon after drive letter
  • Backslash after drive letter
  • End-of-Line character
  • Backslashes that are part of the filename path (e.g. c:\dir-name\dir-name\filename)

So, that takes the 260 down to 256 characters as an absolute maximum. That would be the case only if you had a very long filename with no extension and it was located on the root folder of the disk.

3. Looking at more common and realistic scenarios, your effective maximum is going to be significantly lower. Add an extension (very common), and your maximum length drops to 252 or 251 characters, depending on the length of the extension (most are 3 characters; some are 4 - e.g. docx or mpeg).

4. Each directory name in the path of the filename must be included in that 260 characters. This is why errors sometimes occur when moving files between directories. Users are often confused by the "filename too long" message when they see a short filename. The reason for the error is the total path length must conform to the filename maximum length. Windows makes no distinction in filename storage between the path and filenames. They are stored in the same space. 

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