I got this quizzical error from Windows: File Won’t Copy. That’s it. Nothing else.
I’m the accidental administrator of our LAN. During an upgrade, the vXwife was temporarily disconnected from one of her folders. So last night she asks me to reconnect her. The plan is to move that folder, so I sat down to copy to the new location.
I used Windows Explorer in Windows XP.
I highlight the folder, click copy, and get the error message.
I figured it was a security problem. I modified all that first. Nada.
Then I figured it was a problem with a ripped/pirated CD-ROM buried in the folder. So I went looking for it.
I copied all the folders one at a time, and found the problem one.
I opened it, and found that it wouldn’t copy either. So I copied its folders one at a time, and again came to a problem folder.
So, at this point, I’ve got a problem sub-folder creating a problem for a folder.
No biggie. I’ll just dig a bit.
Except there’s a problem sub-sub-folder inside the sub-folder inside the folder.
In retrospect, this is where I got dumb. It turned out my problem was in a folder buried about 20 levels deep inside the first folder. I did every step by hand. Still wouldn’t copy.
At this point I got smart and went to a Command Prompt. Again, I used “copy” because this is supposed to be easy. Nada.
Then I got smarter and switched to “xcopy”. And here my error message changed every so slightly, and enough to clue me in to what the problem was.
Don’t ask me how it happened (after all it’s not my folder), but here’s the problem: Windows XP has a limit on how long the combined path and filename can be in any operation. It’s 255 characters. This folder tree went so deep that the path exceeded that.
The problem was not hard to solve. Microsoft offers a program called Robocopy that you can get by downloading the (free) Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools. It’s included with Windows Vista and Windows 7 now (but recall that I’m working with an older PC that I’m taking out of service).
The only problem? It was quicker with Robocopy for me to type the whole path to the problem folder (because if I’d rerun Robocopy on the whole folder I’d started out on, my expectation is that it would’ve taken 20 minutes).