Deleting Too Long Folder and its Containing Tree

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4/22/2011

Windows Stupidity - creating something you cannot delete

OK, so it turns out you can create a folder name that is too long for most of the Windows applications, including Explorer, to deal with. Good old Windows :-) My web generation application, Jalbum, creates folders from title text on a page. I had one called "On the second day, we visited the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo. Cameras were not allowed inside, but I took some pictures in the garden. In the evening, we were hosted by a Cairo family and served a very nice meal." Knowing this, I will now shorten up some of this commentary. I have a job that runs every few minutes to copy all of my photo stuff to an external drive. Since my backup drive was getting full, I decided to use a different one. After making a full copy to the new place, I went to delete the old one, and everything worked until it got to this long folder. I could not delete it with Explorer, with a command line, or with PowerShell. A little web research told me that I should use the application that originally created it. Well, that was RoboCopy, which I run in Batch to do this periodic copy. So I created an empty folder and used RoboCopy from the command line to duplicate the empty folder to the one containing the stubborn folder with too long a name. That worked. But now, I was not able to delete the top level folder that contained the whole thing. It kept saying that I needed permission from ejbdesk1\eburdick, which, or course, is me. I changed the ownership of the folder to Administrators and ran Explorer as Administrator. Same problem. Now, even though I was running as Administrator, I needed permission from myself. More web research revealed that I needed to change the Access Control List entry for the folder. Not something that most people ever even see. The instructions follow:

  1. Right-click on folder -> Properties
  2. Security Tab
  3. Click on Advanced button
  4. Owner tab
  5. Edit.. button
  6. select Administrators in 'Change owner to', check 'replace owner on subcontainers and objects'
  7. Open cmd.exe as administrator
  • this is "command prompt" under Accessories.
  • you open as administrator by right clicking the program and picking "open as administrator"
  1. type 'cacls x:\Camera-buf /T /e /g Administrators:f'
    • this is the command to change ACLs (access control lists) on the folder.
    • /T means change the ACLs of the specified files in the current directory and all subdirectories.
    • /e means edit the ACL instead of replacing it
    • /g Administrators:f means grant full control to user Administrators
  2. rmdir /S x:\Camera-buf
    • the is the command to remove a directory (folder)