Fix Windows cannot complete the extraction error with ease

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Managing Editor
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  • The Zip archive format makes it more convenient to send or back up large files and groups of files.
  • Zip files are clearly prone to issues. Here we’ll go over the most common errors you could face when handling a zip archive on Windows 10.
  • Redownloading the archive file and using third party archive handling software tools are two easy ways to handle these issues.
  • For similar fixes, check out our dedicated Windows 10 errors hub.
The compressed zipped folder is invalid

Zip files are perhaps the most popular archive file format in the world. We all have had to deal with them when using a computer. That’s why it can get really annoying when we try to extract one just to be met with an error.

Windows cannot complete the extraction and The compressed (zipped) folder is invalid are two of the most common errors you’ll face when dealing with a zip file on Windows.

Why Windows cannot complete the extraction? There are a couple of variations of the error you can face when trying to extract folders – the destination file couldn’t be created or the file name(s) would be too long for the destination.

In this article, we’ll look at how we can deal with them.

What can I do if getting Windows cannot complete the extraction error?

1. Copy the zip to another location where you have full access

copy the zip

The destination file couldn’t be created – this usually happens because you don’t have permission to create the destination file.

This means the zip folder exists in a protected location, for example, the root folder of the C drive or Program Files folder. You can fix this issue simply by copying the zip to another location where you have full access.

This can be the Desktop, Documents, or wherever you keep your files.


2. Make the path less than 260 characters

The file name(s) would be too long for the destination – this one happens when the zip folder contains a file that has a long name or it contains a long string of folders inside one another.

Windows Explorer only accepts paths that are less than 260 characters (including the file name); it will refuse to handle longer ones by throwing an error.

There is an easy way to fix this: restructure the folders in such a way that no path is longer than 260 characters.


3. Change the location of the zip file

Sometimes, changing the location of the zip file works too.

If your zip file is in C:UsersUserDownloadsDownloadManagerFolderZip.zip, moving it to a location with a shorter path will save you some characters, and might solve your problem.


4. Configure Windows to support longer paths

  1. Open the Registry. The easiest way to do that is by pressing windows+ R and typing regedit.type regedit in run Windows cannot complete the extraction
  2. Use the left navigation to go to this address HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlFileSystem.
  3. Double click on LongPathsEnabled.
  4. Make sure the Value Data is set to one.Value Data
  5. Restart your computer.

You can also increase the maximum path length allowed in Windows Explorer by configuring the Registry. There is a catch, although.

This method introduces some compatibility issues with old 32bit applications, so if you are using or planning to use those applications, the first method might be safer for you.


Can’t access Registry Editor in Windows 10? Check this guide to solve the issue quickly!


5. Redownload the archive file

The compressed (zipped) folder is invalid – this error can occur when trying to extract or open a zipped folder. It is the most ambiguous of the errors and the hardest to fix.

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is redownloading the archive. Your download manager could’ve faced an internal error or your internet connection messed up during the downloading process.

This could’ve led to you downloading a corrupt file. Redownloading the file, if the size is small, would be really easy to do and wouldn’t require any substantial effort.

No method other than redownloading can help you with a thoroughly corrupt file.


6. Fix by using third party archive handling software

The compressed (zipped) folder is invalid error may also be fixed by using another program instead of the built-in Windows zip extractor.

While the built-in program is great, there is no denying it that it can’t stack up to some third parties applications out there.

We have a great article explaining the top 5 open source file archives. Sometimes trying another program solves the issue.


7. Use recovery and repair programs

These programs scan the archive for any potential errors and automatically fix it if it is possible. That’s why we’re recommending the best ZIP archive repair tools to choose from at the moment.


8. Find another source to get the file

archive on your computer

No matter the error you’re getting, if you’ve obtained the archive from the internet, you should try to find an alternative source to download the archive.

Sometimes there is no way around it, the archive was uploaded to their system significantly corrupted, and no tool can help with that.

Thankfully, it is very rare that you can find a file only on one server, and in most cases, if you look hard enough, you should be able to get the file from another source.

We went over the most common errors you’ll face when handling a zip archive on Windows including the commonplace Windows cannot complete the extraction and its variations.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and informative. Please tell us in the comment section if we’ve missed any specific error, or if there is a better and easier way to handle one of these errors.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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