Sun. Sep 22nd, 2019

Samir Daoudi's Technical Blog

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STOP using folders in SharePoint !

While it makes complete sense to organise your files in folders and sub folders, this old bad habit needs to be dropped when working in SharePoint.

And don’t worry, almost everyone does, but as a SharePoint consultant, whenever I come to look at the document management function in SharePoint or I get asked to work on the information architecture, my main struggle is to explain why we should STOP using folders and sub folders in SharePoint, well and permissions obviously (I won’t talk about the use of Excel Spread Shit! in this article).

I did some research and found a well formulated 12 reasons why you should just stop using sub folders.

 

1. USABILITY

Nested folder structure is only known to the person who created it. Also, too many sub-folders tend to “hide” things.

2. URL LENGTH LIMITATION

SharePoint adds all folder and sub-folder names to URL. Overall URL length is limited to around 260 characters. You are out of luck if you create too many sub-folders.

3. FILE URL

Moving file from one folder to another means change of file URL.

4. SECURITY

Maintaining Security by folders in SharePoint is an administrative nightmare. Don’t even think about doing it!

5. USER EXPERIENCE

User Experience (navigation, finding the documents) just stinks with folders (it is so 1990’s!)

6. FILE DUPLICATION

With folders you can deposit multiple copies of same file into different locations – not a good thing when you try to organize documents and data in the first place!

7. 1 LONELY VIEW

There is another reason NOT to use folders. With folders, you get one view: the folder view. Using metadata, you can create unlimited number of views by whatever properties you have setup (i.e. organize documents by date, by customer, by project, etc.) So the document browsing experience is much better-off.

8. CAN’T SORT & FILTER

Since your files are buried in the folders, you can’t really benefit from sorting and filtering capabilities of document library headers (unless of course you are just sorting and filtering in the particular folder).

9. CHANGE IS HARD

It’s hard to change folder structure, while changing metadata is easy.

10. LOST DOCUMENTS

You can “lose” documents when placed in the wrong folder. Additionally, Also, too many sub-folders tend to hide things, making it impossible or too time-consuming for users to find a particular document.

11. NAVIGATION

When you are in a particular sub-folder, there is no way to tell in which folder you are at any given time, and no easy way to navigate to the parent folder (there is no breadcrumb on folder navigation menu available)

12. COST

If you are essentially recreating nested folders you had on file share, by using SharePoint, you have got yourself one expensive file share. Why not stay with folders on shared drive? Or go with the DropBox account?

 

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