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Directory Name Must Be Less Than 248 Characters

Over the holiday weekend, I was deleting some old projects out of my coding projects folder when Powershell returned an error stating, “The specified path, file name, or both are too long. The fully qualified file name must be less than 260 characters, and the directory name must be less than 248 characters.” I found that attempting to delete the folder from explorer or a DOS prompt also failed.

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This error occurred while I was trying to remove a directory structure that was created by the yeoman/grunt/bower web development tools. Apparently npm or bower, or both, have no problem creating these deep directory structures on Windows, but when you later try to delete them, you can’t.

A little searching turned up several blog posts and a Stack Overflow question. The workaround of appending “\\?\“ to the beginning of the path didn’t seem to work for me.

I found some tools that claimed to be able to delete these files, but as usual, I was annoyed at the idea of having to install a tool or even just download an exe to delete some files.

Edit: Thanks to AlphaFS, this is much easier now. I’ve removed the old script. With AlphaFS, you can delete the folder with a single Powershell command. First, you need to install the AlphaFS module into Powershell, and the easiest way to do that is with PsGet.

So first, if you don’t have PsGet, run the command shown on their site:

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(new-object Net.WebClient).DownloadString("http://psget.net/GetPsGet.ps1") | iex

Once it’s installed, import the PsGet module, and use it to install AlphaFS. Note the following command refers to what is currently the latest release of AlphaFS, but you might want to check for a later one:

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Import-Module PsGet

Install-Module -ModuleUrl "https://github.com/alphaleonis/AlphaFS/releases/download/v2.0.1/AlphaFS.2.0.1.zip"

Now you can use AlphaFS to delete the directory. You only need to point it the top folder, and it will automatically recurse:

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[Alphaleonis.Win32.Filesystem.Directory]::Delete("C:\some\directory", $true, $true)

Here’s how these commands look when you run them in the shell:

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This is a lot simpler than the original script I posted using the Experimental IO Library. Thanks AlphaFS!