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I am running Windows 95 and using long file names, but they sometimes seem to get lost or deleted somehow

Explanation: You are using long file names in Windows 95 (file names that are longer than the standard DOS 8.3 convention) but sometimes the file's longer name disappears. For example, a file named "March Results.doc" may at some point end up having only the name "MARCHR~1.DOC". You may find that only the short file name alias shows up when you copy the file to another machine or to a floppy disk.

Diagnosis: Long file names are a welcome addition in Windows 95, but to be blunt, their implementation was a hack. In order to maintain compatibility many compromises were made in the way that they work, and several different things can cause them to become lost from the file system.

Recommendation: The problem could be caused by any combination of the following:

  • Using any disk utilities that perform activities such as scanning for file system corruption, defragmentation, directory sorting and the like that are from before Windows 95 or are not long-file-name-aware, can cause the long names to be stripped from directories or even entire disks. Don't use them! Only use utilities certified to work with Windows 95.
  • Older Windows and DOS applications that don't understand long file names will only see the short file name alias. Even if they are running in Windows 95, when you go to open your file with this software you will only see the short form alias, and that is all they will use when you do a "Save As" to save the file as well.
  • Be wary of file transfer and backup utilities that don't handle long file names carefully. If you use older DOS software to back up your hard disk then the long names will be totally lost if/when you have to restore after a crash. If you use a DOS (older DOS, not the DOS that comes with Windows 95) file-transfer utility then the files on the destination machine will only have the short names.
  • Be wary of copying files around the disk using older software. They may accidentally wipe out files that have different long names but the same short file name alias.

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