Files and Folder appear and then disappear from OneDrive and SharePoint

We ran into something at my MSP that I thought I would share. It’s not that we haven’t seen this issue before it is just that it presented itself in a new way.

What was happening is that files and folders were appearing in OneDrive for a moment, then disappearing, then reappearing, then disappearing. The client reported this as OneDrive “flashing”.

This issue occurs when the file path length exceeds the maximum allowed. What was really happening is that the sync engine was writting the meta data, then failing due to the file length, then retrying. As of this writing, the maximum file path length is a much too short 400 characters. That may seem like alot until you realize that it includes the full URL path to the file. We could verify this by looking at the properties of a problem file. Here we see that the character length wiht spaces is 410 so it’s 10 characters over the maximum allowed.

Why is this file length such a problem? Well I’ll use myself as an example. That’s 136 characters for a file that is held in a top level subfolder of the documents folder. Further I’m using 73 characters just for the front end of the path before I even get to my folders. If you have a client that nests folders or has a file structure that is more than a few folders deep or likes to give files descriptive names, then you’ve got a problem. That data will have to be reoganized and possible renamed before migrating to the cloud.

If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the limits of path length and OneDrive and SharePoint you can find them at this URL.

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