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Windows XP Solutions

Error Renaming File or Folder

Cannot rename : Cannot read from the source...


It is likely the file or folder has invalid characters in the filename or something tricky like a space at the end.

  Sample Dialog  
Error Renaming File or Folder screen shot
Dialog may appear differently depending on XP style options and where it occurs.
  Key Facts  
Full Title
  Error Renaming File or Folder 

Body Text
  Cannot rename item : Cannot read from the source file or disk. 

Typical location

Issued By

  Windows XP

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  Microsoft Corporation    
  Solutions and Fixes  
Fix Problem Filename or Folder
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When a file or folder cannot be renamed or deleted, and you have the correct permissions (i.e. Not an access denied error), it's a good bet the filename or folder name is damaged and has odd characters and/or spaces at the start or end.

One way to deal with these items is to use wildcards to match up with the file or folder. If you need to delete the item, we recommend using a rename first, to avoid accidentally deleting other files or folders if you make an error.

For example, we have the file "foo.txt ". Note the space at the end. It will not be visible in Explorer. To fix it:

  1. Open the run dialog (Windows key + R) and type cmd
  2. At the prompt, navigate to the folder where the bad folder/file resides.

    Tips: Use the drive letter like d: to switch drives. Use the change directory command "cd" to switch directories. To go to the Windows directory you type cd \windows
  3. Use the rename command with wildcards to change the name to something valid. In our example above we would type:

    rename foo.txt* newfoo.txt

    Tips: The "*" represents one or more characters. Use a "?" to represent a single character.

BE CAREFUL!- a rename with wildcards can grab multiple files in the same folder that match and rename them all!

Rename works on both folders and files in the same directory, but does not change any files in sub-directories below the current directory.

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  FaultWire Staff
Posted: 12-Mar-2010
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Last update: 13-Jan-2011 11:28 am