Windows & NTFS: Cannot rename file, or: Working with files containing double periods (..) in filename.

I had downloaded a folder from a friend’s FTP server titled “Orchestrated & Conducted by..” the other day. When attempting to browse inside the folder using Windows Explorer I was given the following error:
D:\Orchestrated & Conducted by.. refers to a location that is unavailable. It could be on a hard drive on this computer, or on a network. Check to make sure that the disk is properly inserted, or that you are connected to the Internet or your network, and then try again. If it still cannot be located, the information might have been moved to a different location.
Great. Unable to access a folder on my hard drive! I’m assuming it’s because of the “..” characters in the directory name. It is of course in Windows’ best interest for security reasons to not deal with any mischievous files trying to read the directory above it.

So I tried a few other things to access the folder. First I tried renaming the folder. Windows explorer lets me Right Click > Rename and even lets me type in a new name. However, when I press Enter to rename the file, I get the following:
Cannot rename file: Cannot read from the source file or disk.
Great. So I brush off my dusty old DOS skills and open up a command shell, navigate to the dir containing the bastard, and try it old school style:
D:\> rmdir "Orchestrated & Conducted By.."
The system cannot find the file specified.

Great. Now lets get medieval on this folder’s ass!
D:\> dir /x
Volume in drive D is Data
Volume Serial Number is BC1A-DBC4
Directory of D:\
01/03/2006 04:35 PM <dir> ORCHAS~1 Orchastrated & Conducted By..
0 File(s) 0 bytes
1 Dir(s) 35,736,907,776 bytes free
D:\> rmdir ORCHAS~1


So, if you ever have an unruly folder, the way to deal with it is to use 8.3 notation when handling your files. To see what a file or folder’s 8.3 notation is, simply type dir /x at the command prompt.

The funny thing is that I used to have 8.3 notation disabled for performance reasons but had recently re-enabled it because of a software incompatibility with Mozilla Firefox. I have no idea how I would have gotten rid of this loco folder if I hadn’t of re-enabled 8.3 notation.

One response to “Windows & NTFS: Cannot rename file, or: Working with files containing double periods (..) in filename.”

  1. Paul says:

    Thank you so much. You solved my problem too. Completley forgot about this 8.3 stuff. No wonder I couldn’t delete that file – grrrr.