Should you disable 8.3 filenames?

by Mitch Tulloch [Published on 19 June 2012 / Last Updated on 19 June 2012]

A tip on the possible negative consequences of disabling 8.3 filenames for NTFS.

An old Microsoft KB article describes how you can disable the creation of 8.3 filenames for NTFS, see

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/210638

Some admins do this because they believe there is filesystem overhead associated with the creation of 8.3 filenames, so for "performance reasons" they disable it on their file servers, especially when the server has a large number of files in a single directory .  But is disabling 8.3 filenames really a good idea?

Probably not.  If you disable 8.3 filenames it can break some of the mitigations to MAX_PATH that are built into the Windows operating system when file system names longer than 260 characters are handled.  Also, Microsoft probably hasn't tested Windows with 8.3 filenames disabled as it has with 8.3 filenames enabled, so disabling 8.3 filenames can lead you into uncharted territory.

The real problem is how you plan the directory structure of your file server.

Mitch Tulloch is a seven-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. For more tips by Mitch you can follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.

The Author — Mitch Tulloch

Mitch Tulloch is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, networking, and security. He has been repeatedly awarded Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status by Microsoft for his outstanding contributions in supporting users who deploy and use Microsoft platforms, products and solutions. Mitch has published over two hundred articles on different IT websites and magazines, and he has written or contributed to almost two dozen books and is lead author for the Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press. For more information, see www.mtit.com .

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