Sam's notebook

Deleting files with special characters in their names, in Windows September 28th, 2012, 10AM

Programming

A couple of directories in Windows couldn’t be deleted by Windows Explorer, because they had unprintable characters (I’m assuming) in their names.

D:\tmp>dir
 Volume in drive D is Data
 Volume Serial Number is 8C47-34BD

 Directory of D:\tmp

28/09/2012  11:34 AM              .
28/09/2012  11:34 AM              ..
26/10/2010  01:51 PM              954321.
               0 File(s)              0 bytes
               3 Dir(s)  89,164,262,548 bytes free

On on hitting Delete it replied “Could not find this item. This is no longer located in D:\tmp”. I tried on the command line, a similar error:

D:\tmp>rd 954321.
The system cannot find the file specified.

The security properties of the folder looked weird, saying “The requested security information is either unavailable or can’t be displayed.”:

A screenshot of the top part of the properties dialog, showing the Security tab.

So I faffed around trying to change ownership, filenames, etc. all with no luck. Nothing seemed to see these files as existing except for Windows Explorer and ls -force.

In the end Superuser came to the rescue, as it often does, with the suggestion of referring to the file by its shortname, which can be got via dir /x.

D:\tmp>rd /s 954321~1
954321~1, Are you sure (Y/N)? y

Agh. Why are the simple things so hard to remember sometimes?…

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