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The source file names are larger than is supported by the file system

by | Apr 20, 2021

Wondering how to fix Windows error ‘The source file names are larger than is supported by the file system’? We can help you!

Often it is reported that they get this error occurs when trying to copy or delete files/folders.

Here at Bobcares, we handle requests from our customers using Windows servers to fix similar issues as a part of Server Management Services.

Today let’s see how our Support Engineers fix this issue for our customers.

What causes ‘The source file names are larger than is supported by the file system’?

Windows might prompt us saying “Source Path Too Long” along with the error “The source file names are larger than is supported by the file system” as shown below:

The source file names are larger than is supported by the file system

Usually, above error happens with a file (or more) that is buried in a series of subfolders that have long names. Whenever this happens, we cannot move, delete or rename any of the involved files/folders.

Primarily, if specific file or folder is located deep down in a set of sub-folders that have lengthy names. Microsoft only allows 258 characters in the folder path subfolder. Whenever this limit is exceeded, the entire folder path will be locked from conventional handling.

How to Fix the error ‘The source file names are larger than is supported by the file system’?

Now we will see the methods that our Support Techs follow to fix this issue.

Method 1: Deleting by bypassing the Recycle Bin

Our Support Techs were successfully able to take care of the issue by bypassing the Recycle bin completely when trying to delete the file or folder that is showing the error.

To do this, simply select the file (or folder) that is showing the error and press SHIFT + Delete to permanently delete the file (without passing it through Recycle Bin).

Method 2: Deleting a tree by creating a decoy directory

This manual approach involves creating a decoy folder located in the same directory as the folder that cannot be deleted.

1. Firstly, go to the root directory of the drive which contains the folder tree that we cannot delete. In our case, the root directory is C:\, since we want to delete a series of folders located in Documents. So go ahead and create a folder with a single letter name in the root directory.

2. After that, leave the single letter folder for now and navigate to the directory that we want to delete. Once we get there, select all its contents and press Ctrl + X to cut them.

3. Next, navigate to and open the temporary folder (for instance, folder B) that we have previously created and paste the contents by pressing Ctrl + V.

4. Then, move up to the root directory, right-click the temporary folder and delete it.

5. Finally, go back to the original directory and delete it.

If we have multiple folder levels, we need to repeat the above procedure with each of them in order to be able to remove each and every one.

If this method was not effective, move down to the next method below.

Method 3: Using the Microsoft Robocopy.exe tool

Most users that attempted this method reported that it worked flawlessly.

1. Firstly, create an empty folder in the same drive as the folder with the long filenames. We named it empty.
2. Then, type “cmd” in Run prompt and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up an elevated Command Prompt. When prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes at the prompt.
3. Inside the elevated command prompt, type the following in order to copy the empty folder into the targeted folder, facilitating the deletion of the latest:

robocopy /MIR c:\*empty* c:\*targetedfolder*

Replace the *empty* and *targetedfolder* placeholders with the actual names in our particular scenario.

Method 4: Using the SuperDelete command-line tool

We can remove the pesky folders by using an open-source command-line tool called SuperDelete.

To remove folders and files that are displaying the “source file names are larger than is supported by the file system” error:

1. Download the latest version of the SuperDelete archive.
2. Then, extract the SuperDelete zip folder and paste the SuperDelete executable somewhere suitable.
3. Type “cmd” in Run prompt and press Enter to open a Command Prompt window.
4. Inside Command Prompt, use the CD command to navigate to the location of SuperDelete.exe. If it is pasted into the root directory of C, the command is cd C:\
5. Next, use the following command to delete the folder or file that is showing the error:

SuperDelete.exe *fullPathToFileOrFolder*

Replace the *FullPathToFileorFolder* placeholder with the exact path in our particular scenario.

6. Press Y at the next prompt to confirm the deletion of the folder or file.

The folder or file is permanently deleted.

We can also try to just rename the folders inside and it might get rid of this particular error

Method 5: Use WinRar software

1. Firstly, open WinRar if we have winrar installed on our system.
2. Now, Browse to the particular file or folder with which we are facing this error.
3. Now, select that file and click on Add.
4. Now, select Delete files after archiving on next screen.
5. Click OK.
6. Now, delete that archived file also if we want to delete that file earlier.

If we want to move the file, then copy and paste the file to a different location and then extract it there.

[Need assistance? We can help you]


In short, we saw how our Support Engineers fix error “The source file names are larger than is supported by the file system”

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