Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Special characters in filenames

One of the biggest pains you find when migrating files to SharePoint is that it doesn’t like a number of special characters in filenames. These characters are typically:


~ " # % & * : < > ? / \ { | }


which means when you attempt to copy them using Windows Explorer into SharePoint you’ll get an error and the copy process will terminate. This is a real pain because you then have to go through your existing file structure and locate the problem file, rename it and then start the copy again.


Trying to locate these files beforehand proved more difficult that I imagined using standard Windows commands. I did find a number of utilities on the net that did the job but I wanted something I could run from the command prompt that would simply record any offending files. In the end I commissioned someone to write a utility for me.


So all you have to do is run the utility at the command line and it will create a text file listing all the files with the default special characters listed above. The utility has also been created so that you can specify a list of characters to search for and it will use these. This means that you could use the utility to also locate files with specific characters in them, not just the ones listed above.


This utility is now freely available for all my SharePoint Operation Guide subscribers but if you aren’t get in contact with me ( and I’ll let you know what you need to do to obtain a copy.