I would like to know if anyone has devised an efficient way in NT batch of computing path lengths in a given folder. This is necessary to identify files and folders which won't successfully archive to optical media, which continue to enforce 260-character path limits though NTFS now supports path lengths of up to 32,767 characters.

I have been using a batch script which works by echoing each full path to a file, measuring the size of the file, and subtracting 2 to get the character count in the path. This works well for low file counts, but takes a long time to finish for high file counts. Ideally, I would like something that works almost as fast as the 'dir' command itself.



set Limit=%~1
echo Paths being found which exceed !Limit!
echo ======================================
type NUL > "!temp!\tabulator.txt"
FOR /F "tokens=1 delims=" %%A IN ('dir /o:-n /b /s') DO (
set Test=%%A
call set Test=%%Test:~%Limit%%%.
IF !Test! NEQ . (
type NUL > "!temp!\pathlengthdeterminationtemp.txt"
echo %%A > "!temp!\pathlengthdeterminationtemp.txt"
FOR /F "tokens=1 delims=" %%H IN ('dir /s /o /b "!temp!\pathlengthdeterminationtemp.txt"') DO set StrLen=%%~zH
del "!temp!\pathlengthdeterminationtemp.txt"
set /a StrLen=!StrLen!-2
echo !StrLen!,%%A>> "!temp!\tabulator.txt"

sort "!temp!\tabulator.txt" /O "!temp!\tabulator1.txt"
del "!temp!\tabulator.txt"
TYPE "!temp!\tabulator1.txt"
del "!temp!\tabulator1.txt" 

  • Does it ave to be batch? PowerShell is the modern equivalent and does all sorts of great thing efficiently. Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 15:12
  • There are indeed PowerShell scripts to determine path length: stackoverflow.com/questions/12697259/… However, I'm looking for a solution that doesn't require launching the PowerShell console or changing to the folder I am interested in. The 'pathlength' script I quoted above is in my Windows path, so I can run it simply by opening a command window in the folder I am interested in. Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 15:40

3 Answers 3


There is no built-in command for determining the length of a string in a batch file. It necessarily involves ugly hacks like writing to a file. However, it is relatively easy to check whether a string exceeds a fixed length such as the 260 character limit. The following script grabs a 260 character substring and tests equality. If both variables do not match, the path is assumed to be too long and printed.

@echo off
setlocal enabledelayedexpansion
for /F "tokens=1 delims=" %%i in ('dir /o:-n /b /s') do (
    set filename=%%i
    set part=!filename:~0,260!
    if !filename! NEQ !part! echo !filename!

To check the length of an environment variable, you can do something similar to this:

set a=1234567890123

if [%a:~0,-12%]==[] (
    echo a is shorter than 13
) else (
    echo %a% is longer than 12

Expression %a:~0,-12% returns all but the last 12 characters of variable a.

Enter set /? to get details.

However, I am not sure if this also work under NT. I have tested it as CMD script under Windows 7.

  • Right idea, but you have got your logic mixed up. You want "%a:~13%"=="" to test if value is shorter than 13 chars. You also want quotes to protect against poison chars. Like you, I do not know if NT supports substring operation.
    – dbenham
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 16:45
  • Your sample expression is also true for a with 13 characters, ie not shorter than 13. Am I missing something? Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 18:42

You could filter the DIR output by a program using regex.
findstr could do that, but unfortunetly the regex is very limited and it supports only search patterns up to 254 characters.
The code could be:

@echo off
setlocal enabledelayedexpansion
set "_LIMIT_=%~1"

set _PATTERN_=
for /l %%n in (1,1,%_LIMIT_%) do (set "_PATTERN_=!_PATTERN_!.")

dir /o:-n /b /s | findstr /r "/c:%_PATTERN_%"

If you don't mind using third party programs you could use grep instead. This is very easy:

@echo off
set "_LIMIT_=%~1"

dir /o:-n /b /s | grep -E .{%_LIMIT_%}

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