Maximum file and folder path length in Windows Explorer

In Windows 8 and below (7, Vista, XP, 2000), there has been a built-in limit on the maximum number of characters that can make up the total path length to a file.

With servers and file sync apps offering huge amounts of storage, there is a tendency to believe that a folder and a file name can also be huge. It is best to work on the principle that the total path length cannot exceed 255 characters.

What makes up the path?

The path includes everything from the original Drive letter or UNC path, up to and including the file extension. e.g:

  1. c:\users\myname\Documents\finance documents\2010\management accounts\2009-2010 management accounts from accountant.xlsx
  2. \\myserver.mydomain.local\myfiles\finance documents\2010\management accounts\2009-2010 management accounts from accountant.xlsx


As you can see from the examples above, even simple folder names and structures can lead to a long path. Example 1 with spaces is 119 characters, and example 2 is 121.

What is frustrating is that applications will allow you to exceed the limit. However, when you come to copy, move, rename or even re-save a file, if it exceed the path length of 255 characters, you will not be able to do what you need.

We recommend creating a company policy that dictates a set structure for files to be saved into using file names that also conform to business needs.

Note: In Windows 10, it is now possible to lift this 255 character limit, however, at the moment PS Tech do not recommend this, as servers, applications and so one need updates to also allow a similar increased limit and compatibility.

Please call PS Tech on 01732 243100 if you require additional support.

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