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Characters to Avoid for Successful Archiving

Characters to Avoid in Directories and Filenames for Successful Archiving

Your archived files may be viewed or restored by numerous users who use a wide variety of operating systems (Mac, PC, Linux, and unknown future OS’s) and devices (desktops, tablets, and smartphones are some examples). Therefore, it is essential to play it safe and avoid common illegal directory and filename characters to ensure successful archive and restoration of files regardless of the environments in use. Following these guidelines ensures maximum ease of use and minimizes the need to reconnect files after a restore due OS forced to name changes.

Naming conventions for all files in an archive are important, including not only video files, but other commonly archived support files such as PDFs, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets.

Do not use any of these common illegal characters/symbols:




left angle bracket


dollar sign


plus sign




right angle bracket


exclamation point







single quotes




left bracket


question mark

double quotes


equal sign


right bracket


forward slash




back slash

blank spaces


at sign

Also, keep these rules in mind.

  • Don’t start or end your filename with a space, period, hyphen, or underline.

  • Keep your filenames to a reasonable length and for maximum OS cross compatibility be sure

    they are under 31 characters.

  • Keep the total file path (from the root) to less than 255 characters as not all OS are capable

    of working with files with “deep” paths.

  • Some operating systems are case sensitive; always use lowercase.

  • Avoid using spaces; use a hyphen or underscore instead.

    Bad filenames:

  1. F&A Costs.html

  2. my PDF file#name.pdf

  3. My Movie, Scene 1 “Brandon Falls Down” 4/22/2014.mov

  4. Two files each called FinalCutProject1.fcp and finalcutproject1.fcp on a

    case sensitive OS.

  5. /My Drive name/Folder with a large folder name/Second folder with an even larger folder name/Third extremely long folder name with more characters/Forth very long folder name with too much detail that should not be part of the folder name
    itself/Fifth folder name/Moviename.mov

    A Web browser or OS that does not support those characters will see:

  1. F&amp;A%20Costs.html

  2. my%20PDF%20file%23name.pdf

  3. My%20Movie,%20Scene%201%20&ldquo;Brandon%20Falls%20Down&rdquo; %204/22/2014.mov

  4. One of the two example files above will be overwritten or will cause an error on restore as both will be seen as finalcutproject1.fcp on an OS that is not case sensitive.

  5. The system will not be able to read this file as the total character count of the path is longer than 255 characters. This will return a “Path to Deep” error.


    Good filenames:

    • fa-costs/index.html

    • my-pdf-file-name.pdf

    • mymovie_s1_b-falls_42214.mov

    • finalcutproject1.fcp and finalcutproject1_1.fcp

    • /My_Drive_Name/Folder1/Folder2/Folder3/Folder4/Folder5/moviena