Microsoft/Windows2009.03.23 18:20

Basic Naming Conventions

The following fundamental rules enable applications to create and process valid names for files and directories, regardless of the file system:

  • Use a period to separate the base file name from the extension in the name of a directory or file.
  • Use a backslash (\) to separate the components of a path. The backslash divides the file name from the path to it, and one directory name from another directory name in a path. For additional details about what a path is, see the Path Names and Namespaces section below.
  • Use a backslash as required as part of volume names, for example, the "C:\" in "C:\path\file" or the "\\server\share" in "\\server\share\path\file" for Universal Naming Convention (UNC) names. You cannot use a backslash in the actual file or directory name components because it separates the names into components.
  • Use almost any character in the current code page for a name, including Unicode characters and characters in the extended character set (128–255), except for the following:

    • The following reserved characters are not allowed:

      < > : " / \ | ? *

    • Characters whose integer representations are in the range from zero through 31 are not allowed.
    • Any other character that the target file system does not allow.
  • Use a period as a directory component in a path to represent the current directory, for example ".\tmp.txt".
  • Use two consecutive periods (..) as a directory component in a path to represent the parent of the current directory, for example "..\tmp.txt".
  • Do not use the following reserved device names for the name of a file:

    CON, PRN, AUX, NUL, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, COM5, COM6, COM7, COM8, COM9, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, LPT4, LPT5, LPT6, LPT7, LPT8, and LPT9

    Also avoid these names followed immediately by an extension; for example, NUL.txt is not recommended.

  • Do not assume case sensitivity. For example, consider the names OSCAR, Oscar, and oscar to be the same, even though some file systems (such as a POSIX-compliant file system) may consider them as different. Note that NTFS supports POSIX semantics for case sensitivity but this is not the default behavior. For additional information, see CreateFile.
  • Do not end a file or directory name with a trailing space or a period. Although the underlying file system may support such names, the operating system does not. However, it is acceptable to start a name with a period.

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