Tip/Warning: Long File Names in Bandcamp (and Other Zipped Downloads)

I recently purchased a new album as a zipped download from the site Bandcamp.com to my Windows PC at work (because the network connection there has a much bigger “pipe” than at home). The zipped file contained eight MP3 files which when extracted should have gone into a folder with the name of the band and the album title.

I clicked to “extract all’ the files, and the program did so… until it reached the eighth and final track. At that point it failed and gave me the error message:

I tried again and got the same error, “Path too long”. After some research I determined what was wrong and how to work around it, plus told the band – they fixed it so that other buyers will not have this problem:


The Problem

Googling for Windows path length I found this Microsoft article which says in short that a full path name (including the disk letter, e.g. “C:\”) cannot usually exceed 260 characters. Because the band in this situation has a name nearly 40 characters long plus had a very long title for the album:

– The band name plus the album title including spaces came to 111 characters. This was the name of the folder created by the unzipping program

– The beginning of each mp3 file’s name was ALSO the same as the folder name, so another 111 characters = 222 characters already.

– Seven of the eight files’ names ended with an additional 23 characters (” – 01 xxxxxxxxxxx 1.mp3″) = 248. All of these file paths had a total of 252 characters with the disk name and and one invisible ending character.

– The eighth file’s name had an additional suffix of 22 more characters (“with yyyyyyyyyyy Finale.mp3”), bringing the path length to 274 characters – too long for Windows! (Note: Mac OS does not have a maximum file path limit, so if I’d unzipped on a Mac I would not have had this problem)


The Workaround

So how did I manage to extract that final file?

1. Double-clicked on the zipped folder to display the files it contained.

2. Right-clicked on the too-long-named file and selected “Copy”.

3. Pasted the file (which effectively unzips it) where I wanted it to be: in the folder containing the other seven unzipped files.

4. I then shortened the file name to avoid any further issues with other programs trying to access it.

(Note: the above worked in Windows 7 – I’m assuming you can do something similar in XP or Vista, but YMMV)

 5. I notified the band in question, who modified the file name on Bandcamp so that later purchasers would not have this problem.


The Takeaway

Identifying files in a zipped bundle with detailed names is great, but err on the side of brevity, especially if there is a component such as your band/company name that is fairly long to start.


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