WSL2: Find and Delete Zone.Identifier files

TL;DR:: Run the below code snippet to find and delete Zone.Identifier files that gets auto-generated while copying files to WSL2

find . -name "*:Zone.Identifier" -type f -delete

If you ended up here chances are these pesky *:Zone.Identifier files have broken something in your workflow. Otherwise they are harmless files that are generated while downloading a file by browsers & Windows explorer to store metadata about the file being downloaded.

The technical details are unnecessary for this post and most use cases, but suffice to say its is a NTFS feature and just identifies the course of the file by using one of the preidentified Security Zones that are defined by Microsoft.

But because the file name contains a : colon, which actually is not a valid character in a file name, it can break certain automated workflows and scripts. For most cases, specially on WSL / Linux system you can just delete the file without any thought.

To do so, just run the following command in the root of the directory where you want to search and delete these files, .e.g.

cd "~/Downloads && find . -name "*:Zone.Identifier" -type f -delete"

Microsoft says they have fixed it, but users think otherwise.

Issues #4609 and #7456 on the official WSL repository provides more details, however, this issue is definitely not fixed in Windows 11.

Need Help? Open a discussion thread on GitHub.

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