14 Responses to “Folders are evil and will get you in trouble soon, if not already”

  1. 1 Mark J Owen September 17, 2010 at 9:43 pm


    Your comments about folders in SharePoint are valid only if a SharePoint document library is being used as a “bucket” for holding documents in an uncontrolled way.

    Indeed, the folder concept can lead to duplicate copies of a document, if the documents are able to be copied into SharePoint by end users.

    However, SharePoint now offers the ability to have documents inherit metadata from a folder. In a controlled environment, a user should not have to worry about where a document resides. By using a drop-box approach in SharePoint (a web part that is available in 2010), rules can be set up so that the user just drags their document onto the drop box, and then the document is moved to the correct document library & folder based on rules. (This can also be done using workflows.)

    Once the document is in the correct folder, it inherits the correct metadata from the folder.

    So – in short I disagree that “folders are bad”. Their is no metadata inheritance at the doc library level. Take away the folders and where do the documents inherit their metadata from?

    • 2 Gord Maric September 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Mark,

      I agree with your comments and do think folders have a place in SharePoint if used properly and with SharePoint knowledge and functionality. Unfortunately, from my observation folders are used in SharePoint the same way there are used in network drives. A way of trying to organize a big bucket.

    • 3 Liza September 2, 2011 at 12:25 am

      A wonderful job. Super helpful irnfomatoin.

  2. 4 Mike Atkins October 4, 2010 at 8:24 am

    How bad an idea is it to create a primary categorization in folders, and then to apply tags after that to create the necessary linkages?

    The problem with SharePoint (in my opinion) is still that the browser interface is limited for document browsing (SP 2010 is a great deal better than MOSS 2007, but stil has limitations). If everything is in one library, using tags, then browsing does not have the Explorer option.

  3. 5 Deb Walther November 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I find our clients are using the folders in the “old fashioned” way. This is how they have been trained to visualize data storage. It will be up to us to perform “change management” and retrain our clients in a way they can understand and see the whats in it for me” factor. Tags are good, but we must find a visual/kinesthetic way to teach our clients why they are so good.

  4. 6 Eric Fang October 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Good point!

    The only problem is how to convert the existing millions of files in network folders to files in SharePoint with tags, and how to let users get used to tags……

  5. 7 Pavel December 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

    But how about permissions? If the file is inside of folder, it inherits permissions from folder. So if i have folders for different user groups i am not forced to explicitly define rights to each file.
    The ugly situation comes also with use of Sharepoint Workspace, where you have all files in one hump – if no folders.

    • 8 Eric Fang December 12, 2011 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Pavel,

      I think Document set is much better than sub folder in that case.

    • 9 Gord Maric December 13, 2011 at 7:22 am

      Security is one place that folders do make sense. However, I question if a different document library, or even a new site makes more sense. Setting security at the very granular level in a site can get messy.

  6. 10 Inge March 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Gord: I agree re: your comment on security. I think that while folders for security purposes may be ok, a separate library might be better. Unless we are talking about only a few fairly stagnent documents, teaching the content owner about loading to the sub-folder could be challenging (at least in the environments I work in. So, if multiple current and future documents need to be secured, it might just be better to have a separate libary based on the same content type.

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