I was having this debate with someone about our company's WIKI as well as our email system. We were trying to decide, now that we have tagging and pretty good search, if there is ever a case where having information stored in a hierarchy is beneficial at all and worth the effort.

Can anyone think of any cases where you still would want the "folder" model where you have nested folders instead of just tags and good searching for managing information?


You have to think less with hierarchical folders. It's like multiple choice... "Well, it either goes in this folder or that folder".

Tagging is like going into a restaurant where there's no menu. You just ask for what you want. Works well for some people, but some people's brains can't handle it.

Also for less tech savvy users, they don't necessarily understand the tag metaphor as easily as they would understand the filing cabinet / folder analogy.


I can think of two reasons:

  1. Directory access starts to bog down once you get over ~5,000 files in one folder.
  2. If files are to be accessed by groups with various permission levels, you would certainly need to separate files into folders that have the appropriate NTFS permissions set.

Well, you have tags and then you can have folder hierarchy as yet another dimension to file indexing. Files sharing the same name need to be moved to different folders. And this is an important aspect for anyone keeping several revisions of the same file, for instance.

But another reason is the fact NTFS volumes actually are slower than FAT when accessing folders with a large number of files. FAT32 are considerably faster. Just so you have an idea, a 10,000 file folder on a NTFS volume takes around 4 times more time to open than a similar folder on FAT32. You can reduce the impact by turning off 8.3 file naming and last access date file updating. But this is only a marginal improvement.

  • 1
    Please always provide a comment if you decide to downvote a answer. – A Dwarf Oct 30 '09 at 4:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.