Enable NTFS or Win32 long paths policy to remove the 255-260 characters limit in Windows 10

Disable Windows 10 Tracking, una applicazione per bloccare la raccolta di dati da parte di Microsoft

Introduction

If you’re a Windows developer, system administrator or seasoned user, there’s  good chance you’re fully aware of the 255-260 character limit of filesystem paths. However, in case you never heard about it, here’s a small recap of the issue:

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, name 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.) [extract from this MSDN official guide].

If you’re a standard user, chances are you won’t get bothered by this limitation: who needs these long paths anyway? However, if you happen to be a developer working with linux-native package managers such as NPM, you will be struck by that issue sooner or later. That’s because there are many popular script-based libraries which make an intensive use of folder-nesting: AngularJS, Angular2, React and SystemJS, just to throw out some good examples. If you use them with Visual Studio 2015, which will adds their solution/project folder structure to the loop, the chance of hitting that limit will be even higher.

As soon as this happens your system will be unable to properly access these files and you’ll face a number of frustrating issues: Visual Studio crashes, build errrors, IIS errors and more. The scenario will be even worse if you’re using task runners or other tools to automate IO tasks for debug and/or release purposes, because they will also be unable to read, move, copy, delete or do any kind of work within these path, throwing a number of exceptions that will most certainly give you more than an headache.

This is a common example of an error related to the 255-260 characters limit being hit (from the Visual Studio crash log):

And this is a standard  “Visual Studio has crashed” popup warning that you might get for the same reason:

Enable NTFS or Win32 long paths policy to remove the 255-260 characters limit in Windows 10

Now that we successfully identified the issue, let’s see what workarounds we can use to overcome this.

Option #1: Make your base path shorter

It might sound obvious, but it’s entirely possible that you can fix your issue by shorten your base path. You cannot easily change the NPM packages folder structure (you should never do that), yet you can always move your project to a different location on your hard drive.

For example, if you keep your solution in
, you can easily move everything to
and shorten all your project paths by a good amount of characters.

Option #2: Enable the NTFS/Win32 long paths policy

If you don’t want to mess up your working paths you can also use a good alternative, assuming you’re using Windows 10: enable the NTFS long paths policy (or Win32 long paths policy, depending on the Windows 10 build) and get rid of these limits for good.

According to Microsoft, “enabling NTFS/Win32 long paths allows manifested win32 applications and Windows Store applications to access paths beyond the normal 260 char limit per node.”

This is precisely what we need, isn’t it? Enable this feature isn’t hard, but it will require us to make some edits to the Windows Group Policies using the Group Policy editor. These are the required steps:

Before Anniversary Update

If you’re running a Windows 10 build between 14352 and RTM 1607, aka “Anniversary Update“, you need to do the following:

  • Launch the Group Policy Editor by pressing Windows Key and manually typing gpedit.msc, then hit the Enter key.
  • Navigate to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Filesystem > NTFS.
  • Locate the Enable NTFS long paths option and enable it with a click.

As an alternative, you can also achieve the same results by executing the following registry commands:

After Anniversary Update

If you’re running a post-Anniversary Update Windows 10 build (RTM 1067 or newer), you need to use the following:

  • Launch the Group Policy Editor by pressing Windows Key and manually typing gpedit.msc, then hit the Enter key.
  • Navigate to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Filesystem.
  • Locate the Enable Win32 long paths option and enable it with a click.

Enable NTFS or Win32 long paths policy to remove the 255-260 characters limit in Windows 10

This should fix your issue for good.

About Ryan

IT Project Manager, Web Interface Architect and Lead Developer for many high-traffic web sites & services hosted in Italy and Europe. Since 2010 it's also a lead designer for many App and games for Android, iOS and Windows Phone mobile devices for a number of italian companies. Microsoft MVP for Development Technologies since 2018.

View all posts by Ryan

4 Comments on “Enable NTFS or Win32 long paths policy to remove the 255-260 characters limit in Windows 10”

  1. Hello. Window 10 have a lot of issue and seems like it is not a stable release. In our software house where most of the products we used are dependent on Microsoft .

  2. Long PathTool is a software that will let you easily delete, copy or rename long path files.

  3. Windows does not allow path names longer than 250 characters and it becomes a problem when copying deep rooted files. To solve this problem I used a software called GS Richcopy 360. This software really helped me out, it not only provided long path name support but also NTFS file permission sharing when files are copied. Try it hope it helps you too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.