(Note: before following this or any other tip on this site, please read the Disclaimer)
The advent of long file names forced the introduction of short "tunneled" names, to conform with ancient 8.3 limits, and application code based there-upon. These short names are used by the system as aliases to provide down-level compatibility. They are generated by the system, using the first few characters of the long name, appended with a tilde followed by a number to insure uniqueness. (Example: C:\PROGRA~1 as an alias for C:\Program Files)
Generating/resolving these aliases incurs overhead, which by now has become mostly needless, as support for 16 bit applications has been retired, so NTFS offers a way to disable this behavior.
But tragically, there are some applications out there that still have built-in dependency on short names – and the manner in which they fail is anything but forthcoming. Case in point, the live updater for Motorola Phone Tools. The app installs from CD, but demands to be updated when executed, and the update fails if short names are disabled. (Deeply annoying from the word go, I can assure you! To the R&D folks at Moto, and/or the hacks they paid to develop this crap: you suck, get it together!)
Usung REGEDIT.EXE, browse to the following registry key:
Edit the value of this DWORD data item:
(Short names enabled = 0; Short names disabled = 1)