I recently tried to back up and move my .emacs.d to another folder and got the error down below. Does anyone know why my system is generating all of these bak/ folders? Also, is it safe to delete these folders?

Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.4 Emacs 25.2

Of course, I'm assuming that this is an Emacs issue, but really I have no idea so any help would be greatly appreciated!

cp: /Users/lorenschwartz/Dropbox/emacsd/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak/bak: name too long (not copied)

1 Answer 1


I am guessing that this is an issue with your configuration. Emacs keeps backups of the files you edit. The rules of how this is done are described in section 18.3.2 of the Emacs manual.

More specifically the variable backup-directory-alist tells Emacs in which directory it should keep these files. Its value in my configuration is (("." . "~/.emacs.d/.saves/")). I believe in your configuration this value results in a recursion that ends up creating this huge string. So the first thing I would do, is check the value of this variable.

Edit: If indeed this is the issue, it should be safe to delete these files, provided that Emacs did not crash last time you used it, i.e. if you do not need any backed up files.

  • Thanks for the quick response. Indeed, my emacs did crash on my last session and it's now in a rather fine state of disrepair. I don't know exactly what I did to make this happen, but now emacs won't fire up.
    – darkhelmet
    Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 17:31

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