Enable NTFS long paths in Windows Server 2016 by Group Policy

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Windows Server 2016 was finally released last week, meaning we can finally lift the idiotic 260 characters limitation for NTFS paths. In this post I’ll show you how to configure the Enable Win32 long paths setting for the NTFS file system, through Group Policy (a GPO).

Microsoft writes about the Maximum Path Length Limitation on MSDN, and they write:

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Maximum Path Length Limitation
In the Windows API (with some exceptions discussed in the following paragraphs), the maximum length for a path is MAX_PATH, which is defined as 260 characters. A local path is structured in the following order: drive letter, colon, backslash, name components separated by backslashes, and a terminating null character. For example, the maximum path on drive D is “D:\some 256-character path string<NUL>” where “<NUL>” represents the invisible terminating null character for the current system codepage. (The characters < > are used here for visual clarity and cannot be part of a valid path string.)

In the past, this 260 characters limitation caused errors and discomfort. Especially in the web hosting branche where you sometimes have to be able to save long file names. This resulted in (too) long paths and thus errors. For example, have a look at this WordPress #36776 Theme update error Trac ticket. Which was a duplicate of #33053 download_url() includes query string in temporary filenames.

Fortunately, this limitation can now be unset and removed. Per default the limitation still exists though, so we need to set up a Local Group Policy. Or a Group Policy (GPO) in my case, since my server is in an Active Directory domain network.

You’ll learn how to set up a GPO to enable NTFS long paths in Windows Server 2016 in this article.

But first things first.

You need to be able to set up this GPO using administrative templates (.admx) for Windows Server 2016. Because, in my situation, my Active Directory server is Windows Server 2012 R2 and doesn’t provide GPO settings for 2016.

Download Administrative Templates (.admx) for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 #

If you are, as me, on Windows Server 2012 R2, you need administrative templates (.admx files) for Windows Server 2016 to configure 2016 specific Group Policy Objects.

These few steps help you setting them up in your environment.

Download and install administrative templates for Windows Server 2016 in your Windows Server 2012 R2 Active Directory #

Folow these steps:

  1. Download Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 specific administrative templates – or .admx files.
  2. Install the downloaded .msi file Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 ADMX.msi on a supported system: Windows 10 , Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2. You also need user rights to run the Group Policy Management Editor (gpme.msc), or the Group Policy Object Editor (gpedit.msc). But that’s for later use.
  3. The administrative templates are installed in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Group Policy\Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, or whatever directory you provided during the installation. Copy over the entire folder PolicyDefinitions to your Primary Domain Controller’s SYSVOL\domain\Policies directory.
  4. Verify you’ve copied the folder, and not just the files. The full path is: SYSVOL\domain\Policies\PolicyDefinitions. This is explained in Microsoft’s Technet article Managing Group Policy ADMX Files Step-by-Step Guide.

That’s it, you now have Group Policy Objects available for Windows Server 2016.

Configure Enable Win32 long paths Group Policy #

Now that you have your Windows Server 2016 Group Policy Objects available, it’s time to setup a GPO to enable NTFS long path support. Create the GPO in your preferred location, but be sure to target it on Windows Server 2016 only. And do note that the GPO is called Enable Win32 long paths, not NTFS.

(my apologies in advance for the screenshot quality – I’m still no pro)

Start your Group Policy Management console and click through to the location where you want to add the GPO. Create a new GPO: Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here..., and provide your GPO with a relevant name.

In the Settings tab, right click and choose Edit…. Now under Computer Configuration in the Group Policy Management Editor, click through to Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Filesystem. Configure and enable the Setting Enable Win32 long paths.

This screen configures the GPO "Enable Win32 long paths"
Configures “Enable Win32 long paths” GPO
this screen is a settings overview for the created GPO "Enable Win32 long paths"
GPO Enable Win32 long paths Settings overview

This is all you have to do to create the Group Policy for long Win32 paths. All that is left is to run gpupdate in an elevated cmd.exe command prompt.

If you have a valuable tip, please let met know and drop me a comment.


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2 Replies to “Enable NTFS long paths in Windows Server 2016 by Group Policy”

  1. I have done this, buts its not working.
    Tryed on windows server 2016, local gpo and domaine gpo. Same result.
    I have go all rettings in regedit and all settings is enabled.
    However its still says error long paths

    1. Hi Anders, thank you for your comment. Unfortunate to hear it didn’t work for you to enable Win32 long paths.

      I wouldn’t set up both a local group policy and domain group policy (GPO). They might (will) conflict with each other. If you are in a Active Directory Domain, then only set up your GPO. And you can always check with gpresult if your GPO is loaded correctly. And have you tried rebooting after enabling the GPO?

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