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What is the longest file path that Windows can handle?

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I found the answer via google but thought I would import the answer and question into super user. – Ron Tuffin Jul 29 '09 at 8:07
up vote 45 down vote accepted

Maximum Path Length (from MSDN)

In the Windows API (with some exceptions discussed in the following paragraphs), the maximum length for a path is MAX_PATH, which is defined as 260 characters. A local path is structured in the following order: drive letter, colon, backslash, components separated by backslashes, and a terminating null character. For example, the maximum path on drive D is "D:\<some 256 character path string><NUL>" where "<NUL>" represents the invisible terminating null character for the current system codepage. (The characters < > are used here for visual clarity and cannot be part of a valid path string.)

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You should mention that you can handle paths that exceed this limit by prefixing it with `\\?` (I think it was that character sequence). – Joey Jul 29 '09 at 8:54
you should also state the limit for unicode-paths mentioned in the 2nd paragraph: ~32k – akira Sep 28 '09 at 15:29
260? 256 characters ignoring drive:\ and terminator. It's 2009, why do we only get a byte of characters to play around with? – Phoshi Oct 11 '09 at 16:57
@Phoshi The APIs to use longer paths aren't used by the OS by default, because passing in arbitarily long strings to applications that were poorly written by developers who knew the path could never be longer than 260 chars and decided to allocate a fixed length array to hold it would result in a huge number of buffer overflows leading to applications crashing and/or being exploited. Slightly better implementations by devs with the same mis-knowledge would abort because their path validation reported a too long error. – Dan Neely May 25 '12 at 15:45

XP file path- 250 characters

Vista file path - 260 characters

The longest path on a clean install of Windows XP is 152 characters.

The longest path on a semi-clean install of Windows Vista is 195 characters:

Windows XP allows file names upto 255 characters in length

Windows Vista allows even longer filenames containing upto 260 characters.

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this is just true if you dont use the unicode-api, which extends the limit a bit (~32k, see…) – akira Sep 28 '09 at 15:30
hmmm. at that rate, the limit in Win7 ought to be around 265 characters, no? – quack quixote Oct 11 '09 at 16:54
Why would they increase the limit by ten characters? Doesn't seem worth it, does it :\ – Phoshi Oct 11 '09 at 16:57

Windows constant MAX_PATH is equal to 260 as other answers says, however, real longest path is 32767.

See here.

32k is while using UNICODE, but now we must use it, so we should also use such max path length.

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protected by slhck Apr 17 '14 at 9:31

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