Unable to delete folder with trailing space

There are a number of possibilities as to why folders cannot be deleted but this one I came across recently got my attention. While decompressing a zip file it created its extracted folder but when I came to remove the folder it came up with the error “Cannot delete file: Cannot read from the source file or disk”. After investigating I realised that it had a trailing space at the end of the folder. Now I knew what was causing the removal to fail but how to get rid of it?

Well there are a few ways on how to remove folders with trailing spaces:

1. Using the “\\?\” syntax
2. Using 8.3 short filename format (if folder is more than 8 characters)

Below is an example code which creates a folder called “testfolder” in C:\TEMP with a trailing space. Note that after the space \\ is required for it to create the space after the folder. Once compiled and run it will create the testfolder, pause for 5 seconds and then remove it. The trailing space can be more than just one space character.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <windows.h>

int main()
    CreateDirectory(“C:\\TEMP\\testfolder \\”, NULL);
    RemoveDirectory(“C:\\TEMP\\testfolder \\”);
    return 0;

Examples on how to delete trailing space folders from the console.

C:\>rd c:\temp\testfo~1
C:\>rd “\\?\c:\temp\testfolder ”




  1. Thank you for this! I was really scratching my head. My folder was 6 characters long, so I couldn’t use the 8.3 trick, but the //?/ trick worked perfectly. What exactly is that syntax? Somehow never run across it before.

  2. It didn’t work for me 🙁
    But I managed to remove the trailing space using WinRAR and it worked!

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