When attempting to delete folders using Windows Explorer the following errors may be experienced:
The source file name(s) are larger than is supported by the file system. Try moving to a location which has a shorter path name, or renaming to shorter name(s) before attempting this operation.
I am going to show you a way to remove excessively long file paths without using third party tools such as Long Path Tool which come at a price or booting into different operating systems such as Linux to remove the unwanted file paths.
One Microsoft application which is not limited to the 255 character limit is robocopy.exe. I know this as I often move large volumes of data with Robocopy between server infrastructure and have never been hit with a file path limitation. As a result, this is the tool I chose to remove the data.
If you use robocopy with the /MIR switch, it will make the destination folder exactly the same as the source folder. So if the source folder is empty, it will delete all data in the destination empty and in result deleting the content.
I have a path here with 3 users which have folder structures which exceed 255 characters. Windows Explorer failed to remove these folders.
I created an empty folder on C:\ called test then used the mirror switch to copy the test folder to the HomeDrives folder.
robocopy /MIR c:\test E:\UserData\HomeDrives
After running the command all my user folders under E:\UserData\HomeDrives were deleted.
This is a handy trick for dealing with folders on file servers which have excessive amounts of long folder structures which exceed the 255 character limit.